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Sept. 21: Barcelona -- Montserrat

It was difficult to wake up today... so tired! Kurt and Phil went out to breakfast while I decided which of the many things in my newly-reunited wardrobe to wear. Heide arrived a bit later than originally planned, due to continued cab difficulties, and we all set off for Montserrat.

We took the metro from the Placa de Catalunya to the Placa de Espana where we caught the train to Montserrat. Kurt & Phil bought a train ticket that included a cable-car ride up to the monastery, and Heide & I purchased tickets that included a train ride up to the monastery (takes longer, but is less heart stopping).

The train to Montserrat took about 50 minutes; the train up to the monastery took another 15 minutes or so, and we were there by 11ish.

We moseyed down a lovely and peaceful path with incredible vistas of the valley below. It's evident immediately that this is a perfect site for a monastery -- so peaceful and meditative and beautiful. Along the way there were many mosaic altars and shrines along the way, most decorated with flowers of some sort.

After walking back to the main buildings, we explored the basilica, which is a beautiful church. We found seats and stayed to listen to the boy's choir sing two hymns. The acoustics were wonderful and it was lovely to sit and listen.

From there, we walked up above the monastery, approximately a 45-minute hike, to the top of the funicular that only takes about 5 minutes to get you there. However, although the climbing was tough, we were rewarded with stunning vistas of the valley and monastery below. I should have pictures posted soon to show you.

We probably should have taken the funicular up, and from there we could have climbed even higher. However, by the time we reached the top of the funicular, it was clearly time to go down. So we took the funicular down the mountain.

Kurt and Phil had a bite to eat, and Heide and I attempted to see the black Madonna, but the line was too long. So we hit the gift shop instead, before returning to Barcelona.

Then, out to a diner-like place recommended by our friend Rick Steves, where we had grilled-cheese sandwiches (quite good, actually!), a stroll through the outdoor market to buy some fruit for tomorrow and some gelati for tonight, and then back to the hotel to pack up and get ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow... Girona!

(PS... I'll fill this in with more details, and some background when I am a little less tired.)