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