Monday, August 17, 2015

Day 11: The Monastery on the Mountain

On Wednesday (August 5) Dad, Alyse, Tanner, Jason, and I took the train up to Montserrat. Banks didn’t think his kids would do well on a day trip missing their naps, so he and Nan stayed back in the city.

Our train left from the Plaza de España station in the morning, and took us through the countryside outside of Barcelona until it arrived at the mountains where Montserrat is located. From there we transferred into a special, smaller train that took us up the mountainside and deposited us in front of the monastery.

On the train

The first thing we did when we arrived was go through a little museum that told us about the history of the monastery. In a nutshell, chapels have been built in these mountains for over a thousand years, and this monastery was built at some point around a statue of Mary and Jesus. Napoleon's troops burned the monastery down in the early 1800s, and then it was rebuilt.

We decided that before we went and looked at the main monastery, we’d go on a hike to see the Santa Cova chapel. Jason and Tanner decided to take the path that went up to the right and walk the whole way, while Dad, Alyse, and I decided to ride the funicular that said it would take us to Santa Cova.

Dad, Alyse, and I got on the funicular, expecting the ride go uphill (like Jason and Tanner’s path) and to take us 40 minutes (which was the estimated time to Santa Cova on our map). Imagine our surprise when the funicular started down the hill and it became increasingly obvious that our ride was really short and would take no longer than two minutes. We were laughing and super confused, but figured we must have read the map wrong.

We got off the funicular at the bottom of the hill and started on the path labeled “Santa Cova” that led around the corner, expecting the chapel to be right there. And then we rounded the corner and found out the path was long, and along a cliff! Dad didn’t like that. Dad didn’t like that at all. He’s had a lifelong fear of heights, and Alyse and I were teasing him about how far down it was. I sat on the wall on the edge and that really freaked him out.

After five minutes or so of walking along this path, we looked at the map again and realized that it expected us to walk 40 minutes to Santa Cova. With Alyse being six months pregnant and my Dad clinging on to the wall opposite of the cliff, this wasn’t going to work.

We turned around and started back to the funicular, with my dad holding on to the rocks away from the edge. The path was at least seven feet wide, but from how he was acting you would have thought it was one. Alyse and I couldn’t help giggling at him, but he kept telling us to stay away from the edge and that he was getting nauseous.

We made it back to the funicular (all safe and sound) and started up the hill on the path Jason and Tanner had gone on. We hoped we’d find them before they looped all the way around the mountain trying to find Santa Cova. Luckily, after just five or ten minutes walking along that path, we met them coming back. They’d realized their path was the wrong one, too, and decided to come back and find us. So, none of us successfully reached Santa Cova, but we did have nice nature walks and we had a lot to laugh about.

Views from Jason and Tanner's walk

We were hungry by the time we got back so we got sandwiches at a café next to the monastery (we all got bacon and cheese – I didn’t like mine, so I got some snacks from the shop next door instead) and then went to the monastery.

The line was really long to see the statue of Mary, so we just went inside the chapel instead, then came back out. We took the funicular ride up to the top of the mountain to see the view, stayed for just a few minutes, then took the funicular back down to the monastery to catch our train home.

The funicular up to the top
At the top of the mountain

We barely made the train, but we did get on, and traveled back to Barcelona.

Once back in the city, we hung out at the hotel for a little while, then went out to the port and had dinner. And after dinner went back to dad’s room one more time to hang out that night. :)

These are all the free goodies we collected from my dad's suite during the four days we were in Barcelona. We divided them up evenly between everyone on this night, our last one in that hotel.

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