From its beginnings three decades ago, the Strawberry Train has become over the years a classic of Madrid tourism. The tour combines the history of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez - holiday residence of the Spanish monarchy - with that the railroad itself. The Madrid-Aranjuez line was the second rail link on the Iberian Peninsula, put into operation in 1851.
The sense of classic travel is further enhanced by the carefully restored wagons used on this route, like the four Costa coaches with wooden seats, which were part of the long line the company MZA (Madrid-Zaragoza-Alicante) acquired between 1914 and 1930 in order to modernise and standardise its rolling stock. These railway vehicles are perfectly preserved with bodywork and seats of wood, "guillotine" type windows and little balconies at the ends.
During the hour-long journey, travellers can partake of the famous tasty strawberries of Aranjuez, while hostesses dressed in period dress offer comprehensive information on the tours usually scheduled: a visit to the city, the Royal Palace and Prince’s Gardens, and either the Barge Museum or the Bullfighting Museum.
The interior of the Royal Palace is visited in small groups with a guide. It is a journey through the history of the Spanish monarchy, and the sumptuary and decorative arts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Outside, a refreshing and relaxing stroll among the flower beds and fountains offers itself. All of Aranjuez has been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by Unesco and is an ecological, artistic and cultural treasure.
You are free to choose where to take your afternoon snack, although various establishments offer discounts for train travellers. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious produce from the gardens and hunting in the area, such as asparagus or pheasant.
The return to Madrid aboard the flagship Tren de la Fresa (Strawberrry Train) takes place in the afternoon, although there is also the possibility of staying in Aranjuez overnight and returning to Madrid on a regular train the following day.
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