Today we head to the mountains as a last minute change -- I say last minute, but really we didn't plan much, so we changed our very loose 'plans' from a week ago. A short hour train journey northwest of Barcelona and you are in a completely different landscape. The plan is Monserrat Monastery which is built on the side of the mountain. How do you get to it you ask? Well none other than a very steep cable car - or as my friend calls it 'the large bucket'. Yes, we started from the level of the cars below and yes this is a close up picture with plenty more height to climb before it docks at the monastery.
Considering Mr Ennis is afraid of heights, the fact that he always finds cable cars for us to ride is on one hand amusing to me and on the other hand terrifying cause the things terrify me! Luckily this one was much bigger with more people so I wasn't pushed up against the edge staring straight down. Plus the thing didn't swing in the wind like some of them have -- all positives making this cable car the best one I've ridden.
Once we are at the top, there is a whole community to explore. This is still a working monastery with 80 monks living there along with a music school for boys which operates as a boarding school through the week for most students due to the remote location. Because we made such a last minute decision, we weren't able to get tickets to see the boys sing, but it sounds like they are fantastic to experience live (youtube video here).
One claim to fame this monastery has is the 'La Moreneta' or the 'little dark skinned one' also known as 'The Black Madonna'. This is a Madonna that is believed to have been carved in Jeruselum and was moved to this location in 718AD to protect it. The monks were not allowed to move it, so they built their monastery around it. It's also believed that the Madonna started as light wood, but over the years has turned darker -- probably due to exposure to candle smoke. It made for a beautiful centerpiece of the church (she is in the middle window at the top).
The rest of the time we spent wandering around the mountains hiking up and down and all around enjoying the scenery. It was a bit hazy, but not rainy like the forecast predicted which we called a win overall. The pictures are worth a thousand words here, so I'll stop talking...
After training back from Monserrat, we explored a couple more Gaudi places and then ate at The Good Burger (welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger). It was actually really good considering we really hadn't eaten much substantial at all that day.
Tomorrow we begin our trek west with our first stop being Toledo. A town with a really rich history that we cannot wait to experience.