Trip Report: The Euromed train Barcelona-Valencia in Preferente class
Once again, I found a great deal for Preferente (first class) on the Euromed service from Barcelona to Valencia. The Promo+ fare was just 1€ more than the flexible fare on the slower Talgo service that I had taken just a few days earlier from Valencia to Barcelona. (Earlier post about traveling in Preferente here).
After nearly missing my train once due to super long security lines at Valencia Joaquin Sorolla station, now I arrive at the train station pretty early, aiming for 30 minutes before departure. But strangely, there wasn't any security check in Barcelona. I wonder when it is they decide to use the X-ray machines, and when not?
I got to the platform so early that the train wasn't even in the station yet. But soon enough, it came, and I boarded. The car remained quite empty for the whole journey; I was sitting on the side with 2 seats, and had no seat neighbor all the way until Valencia.
From Barcelona to Tarragona, they served a drink with buttery crackers, and also offered newspapers.
Then for the longer segment from Tarragona to Castellón, dinner service started. This began with a hot towel.
Then they passed out menus.
As usual, there wasn't a choice of food, but I still really appreciate knowing what I'm eating. And it heightens the anticipation for the meal!
With the dinner, they offered consommé instead of the gazpacho; I suppose they print just one menu and list both possibilities, but serve the former in the colder months and the latter in the hotter months. They also offered bread: white, wheat, or seeded.
After that, they came around with a basket of condiments; I chose salt and pepper, olive oil, and grated tomato. They also did another beverage service, and I tried the peach juice. I was actually very hungry at this point, and wanted something more filling than water!
The appetizer was a rice salad with peppers, olives, carrots, and curried chicken. Predictably, it was a bit dry and hard, with the olives providing the sole source of flavor.
I was expecting the veal stew to have tender chunks of meat, but unfortunately the biggest of the three chunks had a lot of inedibly hard tendon, so I had to spit that out.
The best part of the meal was the blackberry and oat cake. It was nice and moist, and the oats on top provided some crunch and a nice nuttiness.
They also offered coffee, tea, and liquors after dinner. I asked for chamomile tea since I didn't want any caffeine at that hour. I was handed a teabag that was already wet, staining the paper wrapper with the tea. Gross! Since I'm not that big of a fan of chamomile anyway (not really liking any Western herbal tea, really), I just drank the hot water and didn't ask for a replacement. But it was strange to me how the attendant could not have seen or felt with his hands the wet teabag when he handed it to me.
After that, they offered chocolates and a wet towelette.
On this journey, the food wasn't the best, but Barcelona to Valencia is a long 3 hour 15 to 3 and a half hour journey on the fastest Euromed train. So having dinner is a nice way to pass the time, at least part of it. Dinner service ended about an hour and a half in, so there was still more than an hour and half to go. It's just such a difference from traveling on the AVE from Valencia to Madrid, because that total trip time is just an hour 40 minutes. So by the time I get on and check and reply to emails, I'm already in Madrid.
It's funny that I don't regard an 8 hour flight as very long, but a 3 hour 15 train ride as long. Maybe it's because it doesn't feel like you're going very fast on the Euromed? Or because you don't have the stages of flight breaking up the time, from taxi to takeoff to cruising, to descent to landing? In any case, traveling in Preferente is a nice way to break up the journey time.