Take the train from Madrid to Barcelona for a twin-city break


It’s the light I notice first. When I surface at Atocha station — Madrid’s main rail hub, an easy hop from the airport — I blink like a mole emerging from its burrow. Even though it’s out of season, the glare of the sun is almost desert-like, a product of the vast plains that roll out from the city’s suburbs. I walk the 30 seconds to my hotel, the shiny new Only You Atocha, and within minutes I am on the seventh-floor terrace, cold beer in hand, watching the sun flood the horizon a deep, flaming gold.

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