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RAILWAY ISSUES: Moving by train around Spain


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MOVING BY TRAIN AROUND SPAIN

 

 

Can you imagine being able to go from Boston to Washington in just 2h45m or from Toronto to Montreal in just 2h? And always from city center to city center, just a few minutes by taxi from where you are and without the need to board an hour before.

 

In Spain (and some other European countries) there is an extensive long-speed railway network. They are trains that circulate at speeds of 300 km/h and connect the centers of different cities. So much so that mobility between cities is done by train, leaving the plane only for connections with other flights or for much longer connections.

 

At the time I write these lines I have consulted tickets for ten days from now. Between all the companies there are 45 (yes, forty-five) daily trains from Barcelona to Madrid. The earliest leaves at 5:50, the last leaves at 21:00. The fastest lasts 2h30m and the slowest lasts 3h12m. It is not that the train goes slower but that it makes more stops and these add minutes to the trip. The train is the same in all cases.

 

In the morning, at peak times, there are tickets that cost 60-70 euros but throughout the day I have seen all kinds of prices, the cheapest for 17 euros.

 

They are different companies that, in all cases, offer the same trip, from the same station to the same station.

 

This is the case for traveling from Barcelona to Madrid. You can practically make any trip within Spain with these trains.

 

Barcelona to Madrid, the fastest takes 2h30m
Madrid to Seville, the fastest takes 2h42m
Madrid to Malaga, the fastest takes 2h45m
etc...

 

 

Inside the train you can not only take advantage of sleeping and resting like on the plane.

 

You can do other things like talk on the phone (there is telephone coverage on all lines), use a computer or tablet (there are no device limitations and you can use Wi-Fi on the trains), take the opportunity to recharge your devices at sockets (there are sockets in the seats),...

 

You can also take advantage of it to eat. You can bring your food or drink if you have it or buy it at the cafeteria. There is no limitation on bringing things in (it's not like on airplanes where you can't pass security checks with liquids). If you go in First Class they will serve you food

 

You can....you can even see the landscape while listening to music.

 

 

 

 

Where can I check schedules?

 

There are three railway companies. The main one operates on all lines. The next two only on certain lines.

I suggest this website
https://www.thetrainline.com/en-us
(the same website will be useful for other European countries)

 

It works very similar to a flight comparator.... but with trains. You select origin, destination and dates and they will offer you all the prices for all trains in tourist class and business class. You can compare and choose before buying.

 

If you want more in detail

 

Renfe:
www.renfe.com
It is the main company and, until 2021, had a monopoly. It will offer all routes.

 

 

image.thumb.png.729fa5cfd1806dd29e2e34e2623fc413.png

 

These are Renfe Business class seats

 

 

image.thumb.png.a3540a3f24fbad3c44e458cc8cdf03e0.png

 

These are Renfe tourist class seats

 

 

 

 

 

Iryo:
https://iryo.eu/es/home
It is owned by several companies, one of them, Trenitalia. The trains are like the Italian Freccia Rossa

 

 

image.thumb.png.a565858ba450778296f65df2fc3a4c8b.png

 

Iryo Business

 

 

 

 

Ouigo:
https://www.ouigo.com/es/
It is owned by the French company SNCF. The trains are the same ones that operate on some French lines.

 

 

image.thumb.png.1105028528ba362ad672938b0d5d533a.png

 

 

Ouigo tourist

 

 

From any of their website, or their app, you can buy the ticket.

 

 


Are the trains punctual?

 

A lot. A train is considered NOT to be punctual if it is more than five minutes late from the established time.

 

Can you imagine being able to travel by plane knowing that punctuality is almost absolute?

 

Spanish regulations require travelers to be compensated for delays. A delay attributable to the company of more than 90 minutes implies a 100% refund of the ticket after having traveled (you arrive later but the trip is free). The Renfe company has improved it and returns 100% if the trip is delayed by 30 minutes.

 

 

How much luggage can be transported?

 

It depends on the train and even the fare (but by paying you can transport anything)

 

Ouigo and Avlo only include free cabin baggage. For a small price (normally 10 euros) you can add suitcases

 

Renfe admits EVERYTHING. On their website they say only 25 kg and three suitcases but I have seen more things put on a train and no one stopped it.

 

Iryo admits... depending on the class you travel in.

 

 

 

What services do they include?

 

All trains have air conditioning and heating
All trains have toilets (much larger than those on airplanes)
All trains accept wheelchair passengers and have reserved areas. They also have toilets where you can enter and use a wheelchair (they are very large)

Iryo, Ouigo and AVE have cafeteria (Avlo only has drink and grocery machines)
They all offer you Wi-Fi. Depending on the company, it will be free or paid.
Check because there are quite a few trains (all AVE probably do) that offer you a plug in your seat


and... in-seat restoration.
Iryo and Renfe AVE have something like First class where they include food on board

 

 

image.png.19024524cdd049bbdbbe6a3a16479132.png

 

Meals in Renfe First class

 

 

 

image.png.f59eb104ea90b859d8b430ce1bc92c9b.png

 

Meals in Iryo First class

 

 

 

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About station names...

 

It is possible that looking for tickets you may find several stations in each city. Reason is the same system lets you buying a long distance train or a regional train.

 

Do not worry at all. 

In all cities except Madrid there's only one station for long distance trains (high speed trains).

You may push even over "all stations" (or an asterisk) and system will calculate it.

 

Nevertheless, these are accurate station names for each city

 

Barcelona Sants

Valencia Joaquin Sorolla

Sevilla Santa Justa

Malaga Maria Zambrano

Bilbao Abando Indalecio Prieto

Zaragoza Delicias

Alicante

Cadiz

 

and just in case you are going to travel FROM or TO Madrid be awared you will have two stations

Madrid Puerta de Atocha (Almudena Grandes)

Madrid Chamartin (Clara Campoamor)

 

Before buying a ticket, just requesting information, you can click on "Journey details". There will appear all stations to call for that train with accurate name (and ETA)

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Clarification on the name of the stations in each city.

Each city has only ONE station from which high-speed trains depart.
If in a train search engine we want, for example, to leave Barcelona, we can choose "Barcelona - Sants" or "Barcelona - all stations", because they only leave from one station in Barcelona and the computer will choose the only one possible.

 

 

The exception is Madrid where there are two stations.
However, you don't have to choose the season. Depending on the origin, you arrive at one station or another.

 

That is, it's not like going to New York and having to choose JFK or LGA. Trains only arrive at one station or another.

 

 

Trains from Barcelona and Zaragoza ==> Madrid Puerta de Atocha
Trains from Valencia and Alicante ==> Madrid Chamartín
Trains from Seville and Malaga ==> Madrid Puerta de Atocha
Trains from Bilbao, Gijón and La Coruña ==> Madrid Chamartín

 

 

And also,

 

Direct trains from Barcelona/Zaragoza to Seville/Málaga DO NOT stop in Madrid
Direct trains from Valencia to Seville/Málaga DO NOT stop in Madrid
Direct trains from Gijón/La Coruña to Alicante/Valencia stop in Madrid Chamartín (you don't have to change trains, it's just one more stop)
Direct trains from Alicante/Valencia to Barcelona DO NOT circulate through Madrid (direct via the Mediterranean)

 

 

For other types of connections, if you have to stop in Madrid, keep in mind whether or not you should change stations, although given the most common cruise ports, it will be very rare that you will have to change stations.

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In case of Renfe trains, they have the "Premium class" (not in all of them)

 

They will include a meal as you can read in this article

 

https://www.renfe.com/es/en/travel/prepare-your-trip/billetes-ave-y-largadistancia/premium/restauracion-premium

 

Cafeteria, where you can buy some items, will be always available

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This is very useful information.  If we wanted to stay in southern Spain and take the train to various cities (Valencia, Cordoba, Granada, Rondo, Seville), would you suggest we stay in one central location and take daily trains (or buses) or relocate to each one?  Or take day tours? We want to see as much of the countryside as possible without a car.

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1 hour ago, rcs931 said:

This is very useful information.  If we wanted to stay in southern Spain and take the train to various cities (Valencia, Cordoba, Granada, Rondo, Seville), would you suggest we stay in one central location and take daily trains (or buses) or relocate to each one?  Or take day tours? We want to see as much of the countryside as possible without a car.

 

 

Hello:

I would raise it as a logistical issue. If you moved by car, would you take day trips or move from city to city?
Clearly it is an issue of distances, times and comfort. Find the time (and price) of traveling between two cities and how long it takes. Is it worth going and coming back in the day or is it better to go, visit and stay in a new hotel? That is the question you have to ask yourself (and it depends on the number of days you are going to be in each destination and your preferences about moving every day versus packing your bags and changing hotels).

In case it helps you....

If you are going to visit Andalusia, the best located city to get around is Córdoba. There is a high-speed train to Seville (54 minutes), Granada (1h44m), Malaga (1h10) and Ronda (2h30m).
Of course, Cordoba-Ronda is only a few connections throughout the day (and possibly connecting) while Cordoba-Seville has a train every 30-40 minutes.

Valencia, for its part, is further away. There is ONE direct train between Valencia and Seville every day that takes 4h20m. The rest of the connections are connecting in Madrid (with connection time, around 6 hours).

And I remind you all that, between Barcelona and Madrid, there is the little treasure of Zaragoza (not so small, it is the fourth largest city and as big as Seville), that almost all the trains stop and that a one-day visit is worth it. the sorrow.

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We fine the trains a wonderful way if one simply wants to get between Point A and Point B.  But once you decide to go to multiple places (on a single day) we think that having a rental car is often a better option.  Also keep in mind that train stations are not always convenient to the areas where folks want to visit (such as within Ronda). 

 

Hank

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47 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

We fine the trains a wonderful way if one simply wants to get between Point A and Point B.  But once you decide to go to multiple places (on a single day) we think that having a rental car is often a better option.  Also keep in mind that train stations are not always convenient to the areas where folks want to visit (such as within Ronda). 

 

Hank

 

 

Hi,

 

It is clear Ronda is affordable by train but it is not in the best situation. As well as other nice towns.

 

But for Cordoba - Sevilla - Granada - Malaga I guess best option is the train.

(Valencia is far away from Andalusia, several hours by car and by train)

 

I do not know how many days you want to stay in that area. Each city deserves several full days at least. This is, IMHO, two cities in the same day is not an option.

 

If I were you I would get a hotel in Cordoba and will move to Sevilla, to Granada and to Malaga by train. Last day, rent a car and move to Ronda

 

Train is faster than car among these cities (and more comfortable)

 

 

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About Barcelona - Granada leaving at 11:00

>> At 11:00 a train leaves from Barcelona-Sants to Madrid. It only makes one intermediate stop (in Zaragoza-Delicias, the city where I live). Arrive in Madrid at 1:45 p.m.
At 2:35 p.m. a train leaves from Madrid to Granada. Make stops in Córdoba and Antequera (2 different stops). Arrives in Granada at 18:07
There is 50 minutes of margin to link. It is more than enough (I have connected trains in 15 minutes and I have plenty of time).
In Madrid both trains arrive and depart from the "Madrid Puerta de Atocha" station. Although it is the busiest in Spain, changing from one train to another is VERY easy.

Compared to the direct Barcelona-Granada train, it takes a little longer because you have to connect in Madrid and wait 50 minutes. However, it does not make any stops that take a long time. The train, while it is moving, will go at 300 km/h


>> Tickets are purchased on the Renfe website. It has an English version (and in French in case anyone needs it)
https://www.renfe.com/es/en
I recommend creating a username and password to purchase. You can later download the mobile application (or you can buy directly from there). With the username and password you can see the tickets.
The ticket arrives at the same time: 1- by email, 2- it is downloaded in PDF, 3- you have the travel locator.
They ask for the ticket BEFORE entering the platform. It is enough to show the QR code to access. The car and the corresponding seat appear in it.
The bills are "nominative". That is, you must indicate your name and passport before purchasing them (as on airplanes)


>> There are two types of seats and three types of fares

Tourist Seat, with "Bá si co" and "E lige" fares (translates in English as Basic and Choose)

Business seat, with "E li ge" and "Premium" rates.


The differences between Basic-tourist and Choose-tourist are basically the change and cancellation conditions.
In the case of Choose-business and Premium-business, in the second case the meal at the seat is included.

In any case, remember that tourist seats are more similar to business seats on many airlines.

In this Renfe document, in English, you can read the travel conditions for each fare
https://www.renfe.com/es/en/help/new-renfe-tickets

The Basic fare does not allow you to choose seats. If several are purchased, they are always sold together but they are random. It must be taken into account that 1 in 10 seats goes against the march. If you want to choose a seat, you must indicate it and there is a small supplement.


>> Eat on the train
You can bring whatever you want on the train (there is no limitation like on airplanes, such as water and other liquids). All seats have a table to eat (or to put your things, or laptop or...)

In addition, all trains have a cafeteria. They will not offer you a complete meal service but you can buy sandwiches, snacks, drinks, coffee, etc...

Furthermore, in Madrid there are 50 minutes where you can buy something in different places in the station

Spanish customs, the most common time for eating is 2:00 p.m. in Spain (a little late for other countries but yes, it is the most common time for eating). If you are in Madrid at that time you can buy something at fast food places and put it on the train.
Even so, the product menu on the Barcelona - Madrid train will be the same as that on the Madrid - Granada so you can know if you will be interested (by products and prices) or if you prefer to buy something at the station.


>> Luggage and languages
Up to 3 suitcases although I have never seen anyone count or make problems for luggage.

The signs and public address system at the stations are also in English.
The public address system on AVE trains is also in English


>> Picturesque tours.

It must be admitted that they are not the most picturesque routes of all. It's like going by car. Going slowly on a curvy mountain road is not the same as going on a highway with many tunnels.
The most mountainous railway sections in Spain have two tunnels that are among the seven longest in the world (so you don't see anything inside the tunnel either). This is what traveling at 300 km/h means.

Even so, between Barcelona and Granada the Ebro, Tajo and Guadalquivir rivers are crossed and... there is a place from which you can see Toledo (it does not pass through the city but it is quite close)

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a great source for English speakers is

 

themaninseat61.com

 

sorry this is nt clickable because I m doing it from memory. but you ll find it easily. As soon as Eurostar direct trains from London started, this site came into being and is the go to for British travellers going to Mainland Europe by train. agree all the comments above. if possible in continental Europe, always travel by train. In the UK for a different reason, our roads are mostly not good and pretty busy. 

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2 hours ago, sleepingcat said:

a great source for English speakers is

 

themaninseat61.com

 

sorry this is nt clickable because I m doing it from memory. but you ll find it easily. As soon as Eurostar direct trains from London started, this site came into being and is the go to for British travellers going to Mainland Europe by train. agree all the comments above. if possible in continental Europe, always travel by train. In the UK for a different reason, our roads are mostly not good and pretty busy. 

 

 

I am afraid, your link doesn't run (URL has been bought by someone and he offers at 3500$)

 

I suggest 

https://www.thetrainline.com/

 

It is in English (it is in more than 10 languages and several currencies) and checks trains from different countries.

 

Nevertheless, in Spain almost most of journeys will be done by www.renfe.com the main company and they operates in all lines

 

and you can check at   www.iryo.eu  a company part of Trenitalia  and www.ouigo.com that belongs to French SNCF

These ones operates in several high speed lines only but if you find interesting tickets, do not hesitate to buy them.

 

 

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Hello!  I have a question that I cannot find an answer to anywhere online, so please forgive my butting in here.  I have purchased two Spain Passes for my husband and I.  How do I make a reservation so that we are seated next to each other?  I can't seem to find a way to select a seat. I have made two reservations, but we are in separate cars!

 

Thanks!

Kathryn

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Hi, I do not know too much about Spain Pass (it is for non-residents only).

I would recommend you to write Customer Assistance to ask them.

Nevertheless, choosing seat is often a supplement

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  • 3 weeks later...

Starting today Renfe has made a change in menu for Premium service.

 

May you have a premium ticket, you will be able to choose among pasta, fish or meat dish.

 

It is just an option. Obviously cafeteria remains open and, for the rest of classes you can get in with your own food, sandwich or whatever

 

 

More info in English web

https://www.renfe.com/es/en/travel/prepare-your-trip/billetes-ave-y-largadistancia/premium/restauracion-premium

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  • 2 weeks later...

About ticket changes:

 

Renfe has three types of fares where you not only have to take into account the seats (standard seat or business seat), food included, etc... but also the possibilities of changing the ticket

 

- BASIC (BASICO) Fare: Tickets cannot be changed. The purchase you make is final
- CHOOSE (ELIGE) fare: ONE free ticket change can be made. If you have to cancel, there is a 70% refund.
- PREMIUM Rate: Unlimited ticket changes. Free refund in case of cancellation up to 1 week before. 95% refund in the previous days.

 

 

Logically, each ticket has a very different price but depending on your needs it may be interesting to pay a little more.

 

Regarding ticket changes, you must always pay the difference.

 

That is, if we buy a ticket to travel at 11:00 and it costs 50 euros, and on the day we want to travel we want to advance it to 10:00 and that ticket costs 60 euros, we will have to pay 10.

 

If there is no ticket available at the fare we have chosen but there is a higher one, they will offer it to us but we must pay the difference.

Edited by alserrod
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The Barcelona - Valencia trains at 10:15 and 12:00 are very similar.

 

The travel time is different because, for commercial reasons, one of them makes more stops than the other but above all because the one at 12:00 stops in the center of Tarragona while the one at 10:15 stops at a station in Tarragona but 15 km from the center. The road that does not pass through the center of Tarragona allows higher speeds in that section.

 

The 10:15 train comes from Figueres (next to the railway tunnel that connects with France) and has Alicante as its final destination

 

The 12:00 train leaves Barcelona and has Murcia as its final destination.

In terms of comforts, they are very similar and both are perfect for a trip like this. Just keep in mind that the 12:00 bus will take a little longer because it makes five stops between Tarragona and Castellón (it is the one that serves that area) and because it stops in the center of Tarragona.


Here are some photos of the interior of these trains.

(both are standard seats, not business seats)

 

 

 

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Hello

 

This is what Renfe webpage says

 

ELIGE

 Change the ticket at no cost once
 Partial refund (70% of the ticket amount)
 Luggage: up to 3 pieces of luggage (max. 25 kg)
 

 

CONFORT

 Extra-large Confort seat
 Unlimited free changes, Puente AVE (high-speed), Changes due to missed trains, Free change of ticket holder
 100% of the ticket price refunded up to 7 days after purchase; 95% of the ticket price refunded after this period
 Seat selection, Access to the Club Lounges and in-seat food and drinks
 Luggage: up to 3 pieces of luggage (max. 25 kg)

 

 

They point in CONFORT that changes due to missed trains are available and... they do not say in ELIGE 

 

I haven't ever used it but If I had to make a bet I would say available in Confort, not available for Elige.

 

A long time ago (they were different rates) I used it.

Missed train means up to one hour later and in station ticket office

 

 

Otherwise... if you have a 10:15 train and you change it at 9:45, that is not a missed train (I do not know how much in advance you have for the exchange)

 

Since the point where taxi leaves you in front of the station it is very fast to go to tracks. There's one baggage control (scanner) and ticket control before the tracks but it is really, really easy despite it is a major station. It is not an airport.

If you would know the station by heart, I would say 10 minutes are enough by far. 5 minutes if you really hurry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@alserrod:   MANY thanks for a wonderfully informative thread!!!  I have a question for you after some prelimiary explanations. 

 

My wife and I, plus another couple, will be disembarking the Celebrity Ascent in Barcelona on Saturday morning, 27 April.  We plan to take a taxi or Uber to Sants, then a train to Madrid.  We have a dinner-show in Madrid for 6pm, but otherwise we are unscheduled that day.

 

Since cruise disembarkations are, um, variable, we cannot be sure what time we'll actually get to Sants.  But we can reasonably expect that we can be there by 11am.  Using the links you've thoughtfully provided above, I note several fast trains on different lines for the late morning of 27 April.  I know what class we'd like for each of the lines, and what the change fees are for them.

 

My question:  Should we buy tickets in advance for one of the lines to definitely have seats, or should we wait until we actually arrive at the station?  Partly this question is 'How much do fares increase and trains fill up over 60 days?'  And partially, it's 'How much easier is it to walk into the station with tickets in-hand versus buying them on the spot?'

 

Thank you in advance for your advice.

 

--Marne

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, marne-c said:

@alserrod:   MANY thanks for a wonderfully informative thread!!!  I have a question for you after some prelimiary explanations. 

 

My wife and I, plus another couple, will be disembarking the Celebrity Ascent in Barcelona on Saturday morning, 27 April.  We plan to take a taxi or Uber to Sants, then a train to Madrid.  We have a dinner-show in Madrid for 6pm, but otherwise we are unscheduled that day.

 

Since cruise disembarkations are, um, variable, we cannot be sure what time we'll actually get to Sants.  But we can reasonably expect that we can be there by 11am.  Using the links you've thoughtfully provided above, I note several fast trains on different lines for the late morning of 27 April.  I know what class we'd like for each of the lines, and what the change fees are for them.

 

My question:  Should we buy tickets in advance for one of the lines to definitely have seats, or should we wait until we actually arrive at the station?  Partly this question is 'How much do fares increase and trains fill up over 60 days?'  And partially, it's 'How much easier is it to walk into the station with tickets in-hand versus buying them on the spot?'

 

Thank you in advance for your advice.

 

--Marne

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello marne

 

Definitely, if you know you are going to travel, buy your tickets asap.

If you think you would be interested in moving departure hour, choose a class that lets to changing, but anything is better and cheaper than buying just before traveling.

 

It is enough to check prices for tomorrow and prices for April 27th. What should it happen if you find those prices???  or worst.... they are full!!!.

 

Tickets are available on stations yet, but.... tickets are available on airports and we use to go to the airport with the ticket already bought.

 

 

Regarding your travel, remember you can choose Renfe, Iryo or Ouigo trains. They take the same time (if it takes longer or shorter it is just because one or more intermediate stops only).

Iryo and Ouigo have less trains just because a transport licence issue but if you find a cheaper or more interesting ticket in those trains, do not hesitate to buy it.

 

 

 

PS.

 

To go to the station from the port, taxi

to go to any other corner in Barcelona, taxi or Cabify. Uber exists but with barely cars. Cabify is the concurrence

 

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, marne-c said:

@alserrod  Wow! Fast response and great answers!!!

 

I'll get working on buying our tickets now.

 

Again, many thanks.

 

--Marne

 

 

Hi Marne, first of all, in which ship are you arriving to Barcelona?

 

 

 

I have glanced

Barcelona >> Madrid  for April 27th

 

Ouigo

departing 10:40, 59 euro

departing 13:50, 39 euro

 

Iryo

departing 11:55, 43 euro

departing 12:40, 23 euro

 

Renfe

departing 11:00, 102 euro

departing 12:00, 45 euro

departing 12:50, 102 euro

 

 

It is as choosing a flight with different companies and planes but so near one to other

 

 

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