going to debconf9
I've known I was going for ages, but yesterday I finally got train tickets despite renfe's efforts to stop me. I'm flying London Gatwick to Lisbon on TAP, then getting the TRENHOTEL train to Cáceres, arriving at 05:05 on the 15th, afterwards reversing the journey, leaving Cáceres at 01:53 on Aug 1st.
If you're in the UK (or if you are losing the will to live fighting with renfe's hopeless website) you should probably get in touch with http://spanish-rail.co.uk/, which turns out to consist of one person (Mercelo Saito) who is a nice chap, but is currently rather busy, so if you fail to get him on the phone (+44 (0)20 7725 7063) your best bet is to mail firstname.lastname@example.org telling him what tickets you are after, and a phone number where he can call you back.
It seems that the renfe system's meltdown is due to the combined effects of going from 30-day to 90-day advance booking, and a festival that's occurring on the east coast somewhere. Mercelo thought that it's possible that the discount tickets could well still be available, but that the system that lets you get these was totally unavailable over several days of trying, so I ended up deciding to pay the extra so that I could get the tickets in my hand.
spanish-rail.co.uk are the official agent of renfe in the UK, and as such have a renfe ticket printing machine, so they can print tickets on the spot. If you do turn up in person, they're in a managed office building (Regent House) with no sign on the outside of the building, so don't assume (like I did) that you'll be able to walk down the street and see a shop-front with "Spanish Rail" emblazoned across it.