Trains, restoration and hotels

We started our day with a rainy walk to the train station in Cordoba and caught the fast train to Madrid. These trains can reach 300 km/hour. They are always comfortable and nearly always on time. I love trains and would always prefer them to cars when I am in Europe.

The challenge for trains is that every train journey starts and ends with a walk. European cities are densely packed. You can walk where you need to go usually. Besides in a few cities, like New York or Washington, once you arrive by train there is often no place to go w/o a car.

I would like American cities to be more walkable, but that is not how they have developed. Building fast trains in most places is and will be a waste of time unless and until this changes.

There was a proposal to build a fast train from Milwaukee to Madison a few years ago. That made absolutely not sense. Most of the travellers would live between those two cities. Even if the train made the journey in zero time, driving to the station would take more time than just driving to the city of your choice.

Restoration or not

There is a debate among antiquarians & archeologists about whether we should restore old structures or leave them in their current state of repair. It is a kind of purist debate.

I fall firmly in the middle about this, maybe a little leaning toward restoration. We should leave some alone as the control, but we should restore what we can, provided that (a big if) we can reasonably know what it looked like.

We still face the problem of “when”. This is very clear in Andalusia, where cultures are layered. To restore the Islamic splendor, we would need to destroy the Christian heritage. To restore the Roman grandeur we would need destroy both Christian and Islamic glory. You get the picture.

In Cordoba, they are restoring the old walls along the cathedral to what they were during Islamic times. This was an easy choice. The restored walls are many times better than the old weathered and destroyed facades.

Beer at the train station

We got some decent beer and good ham sandwiches at a shop at the train station. When you order beer in Spain, they do not ask you what kind. You get the beer they have on tap. So far that has been a brand called Cruzcampo. It is a reasonably good Pilsner style beer. I miss my IPA.

Interesting permutation. We were going into a better restaurant, but they shooed us away, claiming they were full. There were lots of tables. We could see the place from the shop we finally ended up. The tables did not fill. Not sure what happened. If I was the paranoid type, I would think up lots of reasons why we were “denied” service. Probably something prosaic.

Marriott

The Marriott Auditorium Hotel is a giant hotel. They say the biggest Marriott in Europe. Rooms are kind of in “Mad Men” style, as you see in the last picture. I used Marriott points and not many points at that.

You can benefit for point-money arbitrage. Presuming you have point enough, you need to look both to point and cash. Sometimes the cash price is low but the points are high, and sometimes vice-versa. My general observation is that you should pay money in the USA and use points in Europe. Of course, sign up for whatever points promotions are available and check all the dates. It can be a lot cheaper one day to the next. It takes some time to get the best rates, but it is fun to play the game.

It really does not matter which hotel chain you choose, but you should stay mostly at only one. I achieved lifetime titanium status at Marriott (it took me more than 30 years), so I get lots of stuff free and they treat me royally when I show up.

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