The basic journey looks like this -
Arrive in Spain by air, train, ship or coach at least a day ahead
YOU WILL NEED TO BE IN TORTOSA ON THE DAY THE RETREAT STARTS TO CATCH THE 13.15 BUS WHICH ARRIVES INTO VALDERROBRES AT ABOUT 14.20
The Spanish bus website is Hife
This means if you are in Barcelona or Tarragona, you will need to catch the following train:
Barcelona Franca 09.13
Barcelona Sants 09.33
Arrives Tortosa 11.54
This train runs daily including weekends. (it’s final destination is Valencia). It costs about 15 euros and cannot be booked in advance.
If you are coming from another place in Spain you will need to look up connections to Tortosa. The Spanish train website is Renfe There is an option to change the language to English.
(Please all be aware that TORTOSA is where you get off not at L’Aldea Amposta Tortosa – which is the stop before.)
It is about 10 minutes walk from Tortosa train station to the bus station. See map. At both stations there are good cafés for coffee and/or lunch. (and WiFi!)
Buy a ticket for Valderrobres at the kiosk (about 6 euros) and take the bus to Valderrobres. This usually leaves from Stand 5, but check with the information office, it may not say Valderrobres on the front.
Departs Tortosa at 13.15 arrives Valderrobres approx 14.20.
In Valderrobres you’ll be met by some people from community at 14.20 for 4×4 trip into the mountains.
You have the option of walking the last 8km (5 miles) up to the retreat centre from Penarroya de Tastavins – we will take your luggage if you choose this option. It is a hilly 2-hour walk, and we will provide directions.
Note for the retreat team or anyone arriving for events other than the start of a retreat: there is only one later bus – Monday to Friday – leaving Tortosa 18.00 arriving Valderrobres 19.05. On Saturdays and Sundays there is no bus service at all. Please get in touch with the community if it looks like you have to arrive on a weekend.
Below you’ll find the following –
- Travelling to Spain by Rail
- Travelling within Spain by Rail
- Travelling to Spain by Coach
- Travelling to Spain by Boat
- Getting to Tortosa from Major Airports
- Getting the Bus from Tortosa to Valderrobres
- Travelling Back at the End of the Retreat
- Places to Stay en Route
- Visa information
Travelling to Spain by Rail
Wherever you are coming from on this planet, start your train travel enquires at TVG Europe. Other very clear and straightforward sites to help you with your inter Europe train travel is loco2 or seat61 These days it’s possible to travel in one day from London or Amsterdam to Barcelona.. It’s worth investigating and it does help the environment when you choose to travel by train.. (in stead of plane!)
Tickets can now be booked up to four months in advance with Renfe, six months with Eurostar.
Travelling by train within Spain
Please note that the local trains Barcelona – Tarragona – Tortosa cannot be booked in advance. What follows is for longer distance travel within Spain, if for example, you decided to visit the country a bit.
Renfe is the web site for Spanish railways. It translates into English and some other languages. To book Spanish trains by credit card on the internet click on the ‘TIKINET’ logo to get into this system. (Where it says ID number – just put in your passport number.) You print out the booking confirmation with your ‘localiser’/booking reference on it and present that at the station in Spain. The fast euromed type trains are reservation only and quite expensive. These are the ones that go to Alicante, Madrid etc. There are also slow trains that don’t need booking but they stop at many stations.
Note: Tortosa is not among the list of mainline stations offered initially but IS among the list of ‘all other destinations’ which can be accessed by clicking somewhere on the page. You will then get all times and prices from wherever to Tortosa.
Travelling to Spain by Coach
Fares and days of travel vary, so check them out on eurolines, the main company for coach travel wherever you are in Europe, or, if in the UK, by phone: 08705 143219 (it can be easier to book by telephone). Open return tickets are available, it will only take a phone call or quick session on the internet by a friend to confirm your return date and send you a printed ticket (an sms ticket on your mobile phone may also be possible).
Travelling to Spain by Boat
Nagarakshita has written notes of her journey by sea so let us know if you’d like details.
Getting to Tortosa from major airports
Akashavana is in a mountainous region inland between Barcelona and Valencia. The most convenient airports we have found are Barcelona International, Reus and Valencia (the airport called Barcelona Girona is to the north of Barcelona and is not at all close) Valencia is less hectic than Barcelona – helpful especially after a retreat – and there is a Triratna Buddhist Centre and a sangha there too.
Barcelona international airport – Trains to Barcelona Sants Station run every half hour from the airport. Journey time is about 25 minutes. From Sants you will need to get the train to Tortosa which will probably leave from a different platform (Via) – there are information kiosks in Sants station, often with someone who speaks English. Trains from Barcelona Sants leave for Tortosa about every hour and a half, (N.B. the final destination is not always Tortosa). Trains to Tarragona are more frequent.
Beware – Barcelona is a hot spot for pick-pockets and several retreatants have had things stolen (at Sants station in particular) . Please take extreme care and keep money, documents etc separate with a list of important numbers and phones etc. A main ploy is to distract travellers by offering to help with bags.
There is also a coach service between Barcelona airport (Terminal 1) and Tarragona bus station. To check bus times go to empresaplana (the bus fare is higher than the train).
Recently Hife started to run a regular bus service between Barcelona airport (Terminal 1) directly to Tortosa bus station (it involves some swapping from bus to bus just outside of Barcelona, ask the bus driver when you get on the bus) It is quite straightforward and a comfortable way to get to Tortosa. Check the hife website for times. Note: If you arrive at terminal 2 you have to take the airport shuttle to terminal 1 which takes about 10 minutes.
Reus airport is near Tarragona and Salou which are both on the train line from Barcelona to Tortosa. Ryanair fly to Reus airport and their webpage has info on bus transfers. Some retreatants have not found these buses to be reliable. A shared taxi might be a good idea.
Valencia airport – there is a metro from the airport to the city centre which takes about 25 minutes.
Some trains from Valencia are direct trains to Tortosa, but for most you will need to get off at “L’Aldea–Amposta–Tortosa” station and then a train to ‘Tortosa’. There is also a regular bus service to Tortosa from L’Aldea. Check the Hife website for times.
Boarding Passes:- In case you can’t print your boarding pass for your return flight before you travel to Akashavana, the support community can do that for you. Please provide them with all the information needed, ideally at the beginning of the retreat.
Getting the Bus from Tortosa to Valderrobres
As you come out of the main entrance of Tortosa train station turn left and immediately take the next left on to the new pedestrian crossing. In between metal fences At the end of the pedestrian crossing turn left. Take the second right - Carrer de Santa Maria Rose Molas. You’ll see the bus station ahead of you on the left hand side (a building with curved roofing). There is a cafe inside the building as well as the ticket office. It will take about 10 minutes to walk that distance.
Travelling Back at the End of the Retreat
It is essential that you read this section before booking any return travel
WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GET A FLIGHT OUT ON THE DAY THE RETREAT ENDS. BUS/TRAIN TIMINGS ARE SO TIGHT IT WOULD TAKE ONLY ONE SMALL DELAY TO MISS A FLIGHT.
Only if you travel back by Elipsos TrenHotel can you leave on the evening that the retreat ends.
On the day that your retreat ends you will be taken to Valderrobres in time to get the bus leaving at 14:25 that arrives in Tortosa at about 15.45. The next train leaves from Tortosa to Tarragona and Barcelona at 17.25 [there is a train that departs at 15:54 which you may be lucky enough to catch, but unlikely.]
Train departs Tortosa at 17.25 – arrives Tarragona at 18:30 and at Barcelona Sants at 19.40.
Flying from Valencia
Trains go from Tortosa to L’Aldea-Amposta, where you usually change for a train to Valencia – a few trains go directly through to Valencia. Connecting trains and buses go from Tortosa to this station – check renfe web site for information on train times.
Train departs L’Aldea-Amposta at 18.14 – arrives Valencia Estacion Del Norte at 20.25.
Trains to Valencia airport go from Estacion Del Norte every 20 mins and take 20 mins. If you are flying out from Valencia, you may need to stay in Valencia overnight.
Places to Stay en Route
Spain is famous for Fiestas and other big events so it is possible that a town may be totally booked up. Advance booking is strongly recommended.
There are a number of places to stay in Valderrobres, there is the Fonda Angeleta. Double rooms are between 40-45€.
A less exciting alternative is the Hotel El Salt close to the old town rooms are around 50-60€. Both are 5 mins walk from the bus stop. The only morning bus leaves Valderrobres at 6.38am – (please double check time) and gets to Tortosa about 8.00am (not weekends). The next train to Barcelona leaves at 9.18 arriving Barcelona Sants at 11.53.
Horta de Sant Joan
Picasso’s favourite village right on the border between Catalunya and Aragon is on the bus route from Valderrobres to Tortosa. ‘La Fabrica’ is a self catering apartment right in the village square owned by Oscar – you can find it on trip advisor. There are also several other accommodation options of varying degrees of luxury.
The self catering will allow you to expand on the very limited vegan and vegetarian food choices – tortilla, bread, salad and cheese basically – as the local shops sell plenty of seasonal fruit and veg.
From Horta there are beautiful walks, downhill bike rides with swimming options along the way, and even an opportunity to go kayaking on the nearby Ebre river. The local Picasso Centre is also well worth a visit.
A couple of lower cost places that retreatants have stayed at are:
Hostal Levante tel. 93 317 95 65
Pensio Alamar tel. 93 302 5
Hostal Cal Siles (Near Barcelona airport) tel. 34 36 08820 www.hostalcalsiles.com
Barcelona is much more expensive than other places.
(Akashavana Trustees ask that any team members claiming travel expenses bear this in mind and try to stay in other places or else be willing to pay the difference themselves. Valderrobres, Tarragona and Reus are much more reasonable priced than Barcelona or Valencia.)
An easy and cheap place to stay is Hostal Noria in the Plaza de la Font tel no 0034 977 238 717. However it can be noisy as it is centrally located. NB this is a different place than HOTEL Noria – which is more expensive, near the beach and more quiet. You should book in advance which is easy to do through a site like booking.com. You can get a taxi from the train station, or walk taking an outdoor escalator up the hill.
Indigio Hostel has been recommended as very clean. It is about 18 euros in a taxi from the airport and a walk from the train station. It provides breakfast, they speak English on the phone, but have no single rooms.
If you’re travelling by coach – you could make a short holiday of it, especially if you alighted from the coach before Barcelona at Girona, which is a lovely place (cheap pleasant hostel – Pension Viladomat 0034 972 203 80
Accommodation booking and confirmation: Please note that the support community usually won’t do new bookings for you. In case you have to confirm your reservation, the support community can do that for you. Please provide them with all the information needed, ideally at the beginning of the retreat.
The links below give basic information about who needs a visa for entering Spain and the length of time that your visa will enable you to remain in Spain. Please check on any visa requirements in good time before the retreat.