Last Thursday, my second to last day in Barcelona, I decided it was time to finally go see the monastery at Montserrat, which is considered one of the big attractions of Barcelona. I got up early; the monastery is a one-hour train ride outside of Barcelona. Because the monastery sits atop a ridiculously high mountain, you have the choice of cable car or rackway to get up. Apparently, the more scenic of the two is the rackway; I chose cable car, accidentally. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. The cable car is a pretty awesome way to go up the mountain. Neither the cable car nor the rackway bring you completely to the top, but they bring you to the “main level”, if you will. There, you have the museum, a variety of souvenir shops, a cafe, the basilica and a bunch of other really important buildings. Awesome coincidence: we arrived at the “main level” just in time for mass. Now, I’m not a religious person, but how often do you get the chance to go to mass on top a mountain a beautiful church? It was an hour long, but I only stayed for half of it. Nevertheless, the songs were very soothing.
To go to the top of the mountain is another story. As it turns out, Montserrat is a hiking attraction. I was here because I was sore from walking around all week and I wanted a break. Also, I was wearing a long skirt and flip flops: not exactly ideal hiking attire. On the other hand though, this is my second to last day in Barcelona; the train cost me 16 euros (a little deep for my wallet, thank you); I’ll probably never come back here again; and if I don’t go up any higher, I’ll just get bored. So, I bought a 7.40 euro ticket to the semi-top of the mountain, St-Joan Superior. There, I spent the next two and half hours wandering on trails. I didn’t have enough energy to do the whole thing; it’s way too much and you have to come prepared. I bet with good hiking shoes and food for a picnic, it could be a pretty epic day. I would highly recommend coming, prepared.
Also, it was sunny. It was the first day all week that you count the number of clouds floating by on one hand. This got me eager to go back to the hostel, get changed, and go to the beach. Once I was fed up with hiking, that’s exactly what I did. I don’t know if anyone could have gotten to the beach faster.
The first picture of the day: view of the monastery from the cable car station at the bottom.
Looking down as we’re going up in the cable car.
In the courtyard. I took this picture after sneaking out of mass early. Taking pictures during mass was most definitely forbidden, so I didn’t bother. Also, it kind of ruins the experience if all you can think about is sneaking a picture of the procession. I mean, come on.
In the streets, on the “main level”.
I took this picture walking up the rackway to go to St-Joan Superior. The Basilica and the rest of the monastery sits on top of the museum.
The St-Joan Superior rackway. At the bottom, is the “main level” of the monastery where they have the Basilica.
The rackway station of St-Joan Superior. From here, you could spend hours and hours just hiking the trails. One of the trails leads to the top of the mountain just behind the rackway station. I chose two trails, but they were both just soooo freaking long… The monastery isn’t just on the ‘main level”. There are random little chapels all over on several different mountain tops. Montserrat is huge!
The mountains here are so oddly shaped!! They’re not sharp, but they’re super steep. Awesome weather!
I would have uploaded more pictures, but, for some reason, it’s taking forever. Again, I would only recommend going to Montserrat prepared. If you go really early and have a good map (which I didn’t), spending the day at Montserrat can easily become a highlight of going to Spain.
On my last day in Barcelona, I slept in. I met some students from the University of Waterloo. Two were art students from New York, and one was a software engineer from West Van. Turns out he plays Div 1 rugby from the Caps. We all went to the beach and got terribly burnt. The water was also sooo nice. After being near heat exhaustion the day before, a cool dip in the sea was exactly what I needed. I’d have to say, Barcelona wouldn’t be Barcelona without the beaches. They’re so close to everything and it’s so easy to get sucked in.
I had an amazing time in Barcelona. I met some awesome people and highly recommend going. Lonely Planet named it this year’s number one European hot spot and it’s really easy to see why.
Until next time,