It's been 15 years' coming, but the high speed train from Barcelona to Madrid was really worth the wait.
Just over 3 hours door to door, despite four scheduled stops and a somewhat circuitous route designed to take in the population centres in this sparsely peopled country. Without stops its 2hrs 40 mins.
Comfortable seats, tonnes of legroom, movies on the screen and 300kph dialling up on the clock within around 20 minutes of leaving a nicely spruced up Sants station. All this for £29 each way if you book in advance and you get half your money back if it's more than 15 minutes late and the whole lot if more than 30.
Madrid? As impressively and imposingly post-empire as ever, a wonderful and gigantic Picasso exhibition and some more than decent food. try especially Juana la Loca for top tapas (4 Plaza Puerta de Moros. Tel. 91 364 0525) and the Galician Orixe (cava baja 17, 91 354 0647).
Just a shame about their football teams and their lack of beaches/mountains/sea etc etc
Sorry it's been so quiet, we've been launching a website and very nice it looks too. So a quick round up:
Celtic fans: loyal, funny and well behaved to the last. They put their Rangers rivals to shame
The Barcelona municipality for learning the lessons of the Rangers visit and entertaining them with paella, music, beer and big screens in Montjuic instad of letting them piss all over Plaza Catalunya
Jose Luis Zapatero. Looks like the PM will get back in at this weekend's general election. He's outsmarted the unpleasant Mariano Rajoy in both TV debates and generally run a brighter and more optimistic campaign. Perhaps Zapatero's Catalan list leader Carme Chacón went a little too far in comparing him with Ronaldinho however ...
The Celtic team. Now we knew they had no chance but we had no idea they would be so craven and pathetic in defeat. The fans deserved better
Real Madrid: another year, another failure to get to the quarter finals of the Champions League. shameful
Leo Messi. Hamstrings of cotton. Out for six weeks. He weeps, we weep. While you wait for him to return, read John Carlin's marvellous profile of the wonderkid
Mariano Rajoy: it's the end my friend. Possibly the last time a bearded man will run for the highest office in a western European democracy.