Montserrat (a couple days late)

So Thursday I visited Montserrat just north of Barcelona. Montserrat means serrated mountains and they surely do look like it.
I purchased my Trans Montserrat ticket from the TI (tourist information) office in the Plaça de Catalunya the night before to make it quick and easy to get there. This ticket provided for the metro within Barcelona, the train from Barcelona to Montserrat, the cable car (or rack railroad, but I chose cable car) ride, the audiovisual exhibit, and unlimited rides on the funiculars up in the mountains.
I wanted to be in the first cable car up the mountain so I hopped on the metro about 3min walk from my hotel and got onto the 8:16 train to Montserrat. Thankfully I stopped at a bakery across from my hotel before heading on the metro and snagged OJ and a ham and cheese sandwich on brioche. I ate this on the train ride up.
For those of you who remember, I was sick a while back and I’m not completely recovered, but I feel MUCH BETTER. I just keep coughing and really blowing my nose a lot. Of course, I keep forgetting to buy tissues… A really nice lady on the train gave me a whole packet of travel tissues which made my stomach feel much better (less swallowing of mucus, yuck!)
Anyway, we finally got to the stop, Montserrat de Arie, for cable car access to Montserrat…

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Waited for it to open and then for us to board the adorable, German made cable car that would take us up the mountain.

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The next shots are taken as I’m riding in the cable car on my way up to the monestary…

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You can see just how far up we are by watching that empty cable car go back down the mountain!!

Once up on the mountain the sky turned gray and it started misting… Not exactly my ideal weather for walking steep trails, but I am on vacation and this may be the only time I get here, so we must persevere.
But first I walked up to the basilica and toured around the perimeter in a crowded line with other tourists. This church is actively in use… The community around the mountain attends services there.

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The next photo is of the ‘black Madonna’ who was apparently found in a cove in the mountain range by some shepherd children.

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After touring the basilica I needed some fresh air and so I took a ride up the funicular and then followed the signs to hike back down to the monastery. It was pretty steep uphill for a short while at the start but then started going downhill quickly. Here are some pics taken along the way… Note how mystical most of them look…

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Finally, after eating some fresh cottage cheese with honey, from the local cheese farmers who set up farm stands up there, I headed back down the cable car…

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… Through the mist and onto the train system to make my way back to Barcelona. After getting into the city, I made my way to the Sants estacion, where I found the Renfe station and ticket counter and proceeded to purchase all the train tickets I needed for the next few days. I had been trying online, unsuccessfully, for days to purchase. I finally figured out it was because their website doesn’t support safari (the browser on my iPad and iPhone) and that is why I couldn’t do it. I feel better with the tickets in hand…

I’m now in San Sebastain and trying to make the best of the rainy cool weather. I have a new scarf & jacket (kind of water repellent) and tissues!! Life is good. Warming up right now after meandering around this AM and shopping/eating. Will head out again this afternoon and really try to take some pictures!!!

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