If you are used to suburban or commuter trains on a daily basis, or maybe, even some of those old regional trains that stop up in the last town of every village, you can then dream of a different way to travel in this means of transport. The luxury Al-Andalus train is a convoy composed of four cars, a saloon with art deco style furniture, a charming restaurant with an excelent chef, cafeteria and seven suite-cars, with capacity for 64 people.
Made in France in the early twenties, five of the seven suite-cars, now restored, were used in the last century to move the British monarchy by French land road to the French Riviera. In this scenario, feeling like a king is more than just a way of speaking. “It’s a real gem of a train, one of the most luxurious trains in the world”, explains Javier Díaz Trisac, Renfe Commercial Services manager.
The differences between this train and the standard ones are as great as between the tourist class of the planes and First Class on Emirates. The most luxurious rooms of the Al-Andalus, for instance, have a a bed which measures 200 centimeters long by 150 centimeters wide. Any similarity with any previous journey on a train? The meals and dinners on board are provided by the Asturian chef Ramón Celorio, from the restaurant Los Arcos (Cangas de Onís). It serves Iberian ham of acorn, Galician seafood, Castilian roasts and wines from different PDOs through which the convoy crosses. Goodbye to the classical ham or tuna sandwich from… most other trains.
And there is so much more of course: onboard parties with live music, cocktails, newspapers and magazines, mini bar in every room, laundry … If you wish, you can even ask the crew to pick up and sort your luggage and place it in the wardrobe of your suite. A train that would make Sheldon Cooper happy, the nerd of the series ‘The Big Bang theory’, crazy for the trains.
The price, of course, also varies greatly between the different options to board. Although they are pretty difficult to compare. Each of the Al-Andalus train runs, lasting 7 days and 6 nights, cost aprox. 3,500 euros per person (500 euros per day). At that price, you can enjoy all the breakfasts, meals and dinners for the week, as well as excursions and tickets to monuments and shows during this exclusive and luxury train journey across souther Spain. The price is very similar to the only similar and unique experience, the famous Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, which links San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela. We arrange both exclusive experiences as highlight additions to our luxury tours in northern and southern Spain.
Of the selected 800 travelers who enjoyed the Al-Andalus train in 2016, 15% were Americans, another 10% British and 8% German. They were also used by Europeans, Australians and Americans.
The itinerary of Al-Andalus along the Camino de Santiago recently celebrated three decades. Until last year, it linked León with the Galician capital, and now this charming itinerary has been expanded with the departure from Madrid and the added stops of El Escorial and Segovia. The tourist train also has two other routes, one through Andalusia (Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Úbeda …), and another through Extremadura (Zafra, Mérida, Cáceres …), both departing from the Andalusian capital.
We have had the pleasure to enjoy this amazing ride a couple of times, and we can guarantee that the whole trip feeling was like being in some Andalusian castle “on wheels” in a timeless atmosphere.