El albergue

El albergue

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Training Day

Yesterday was our epic day of training.  Training for what, you ask?  Well, that’s just it – it was training.  A day of train rides.  That wasn’t, of course, the main goal of the day, it just ended up being a rather large portion of it.  Funny how things work out that way. 

We had been planning on escaping the city for a while with a couple girl friends, and we settled on yesterday as our day of action, although what with getting up late and all, the actually level of action is a little debatable.  After the two sleepyheads in my apartment were finally ready, we were running a little late, but it ended up being ok, because we would have had to wait to catch the next train anyways, which didn’t leave until 1.  The first hour and a half of training was pretty uneventful, especially since I swear they were going the speed of that kiddie train ride at Disneyland, although I did almost freak everyone out at one stop because I thought we had to change trains…turns out we didn’t.

The last half hour of training out to location was spent in this older model of train that reminded one of my roommates of elbow-length gloves and elegant little suitcases.  We had heard that the best view of the mountain scenery was to be had from the right-hand side of the cars, so all five of us crammed into one four-seat section so that no one would have to lose any bit of the view.  It was a jolly little train ride, everyone swaying back and forth with the rhythm of the tracks as we occasionally broke out into Beach Boys songs or “Bare Necessities” from the Jungle Book.  (Don’t worry, the coach wasn’t crammed full, so we didn’t embarrass ourselves in front of too many people.)

It was when we stepped out of the train at the final stop that three of the five of us realized they hadn’t known we were going to the actual mountains, nor had they thought about how chilly it might or might not be as they watched the landscape going by the window become more and more piney and less and less oaky.  Let’s just say that they weren’t really wearing all the layers they might have been if they had known.  Hmm, I thought I had told them.  Whoops! 

It was ok though once we got going.  Once we entered the trees, it cut down on the wind, so we were able to sit down on a sunny little knoll and enjoy our picnic lunch in good spirits sans continual shivering.  Of course, trekking up the steeper specimens of slope really got our blood pumping, at which point it was nice to be in cooler air.  We strode along, occasionally stopping for a photo-op at a particularly beautiful spot, and filling our lungs with the sweet, fresh, pine-scented air of the mountains.

Near the end of the mere three hours we had to wander about before the last train back to Madrid left at 6 (next time, we’re leaving earlier!), we all lay down on a lovely grassy hillside in full sunshine, enjoying the gentle kiss of the sun on our faces.  Every once in a while, someone would start a murmured conversation, but it quickly ended each time in quietude.  For the most part, I stared up into the sky with its ever-changing mantle of clouds – I watched as a giant swath of pure white slowly swirled in pompous state away towards the south, leaving behind telltale feathery wisps that quietly dissipated into nothingness, revealing the unadulterated blue of a sky clear of the pollution of the city.  It was glorious.

At six, we were back on the trundling little train, making our way down off the heights, all five of us again smooshed into four seats on the side with the best view.  After the switch back to the line going to Madrid, we just sat back and relaxed, chatting or simply sitting in contemplative silence as we watched the progression of the colors of sunset march across the sky.  In total, I think we spent more time in the train than we did actually out and about on the mountain trails, but we still fully enjoyed our escape from the city.  It was training day, baby!

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