Saturday, September 11, 2010

First Day in Spain

I have to say, I do like arriving in foreign locations in the evening because it helps so much with jet lag! We got up around 8:30am, and while it was a little hard to drag my head off the pillow as soon as we opened the curtains and let the warm morning sun shine in I was ready to head to Montserrat—a monastery with lots of nice hiking trails through the “serrated mountains”—especially since you can see the mountains, right out our window. We had a quick breakfast downstairs, rearranged our backpacks to hold just what we needed for the day instead of everything they could possibly hold for the trip over here, and hit the road.
Luckily, I had printed directions out from Via Michelin because the roads here are SO CONFUSING! The guy who delivered our car to us at the airport said it would be really hard without a GPS, but we didn’t get one. And now I wish we had! None of the roads use directions (like North/South) as part of their name, so the only way to tell if you are going the right direction is by town names. But then sometimes it seems to say the same town name in both directions at a split! Yikes! I only printed directions out going one way, thinking it would be simple to do them backwards—ha. We made it (both ways) but most of the time I had no clue if we were really going where I wanted us to or not!
View of the Monastery tucked into Montserrat
The monastery seems to grow right out of the rocks near the top of the mountain ridge. We wandered around the buildings till the 1pm service when the boys’ choir sang in the basilica. At the front of the basilica is the Black Virgin, a statue said to have been carved by St. Luke and brought to the region 50 years after the death of Christ by St. Peter, who hid it in a cave. It was lost during the Muslim invasion, but found again afterwards through a vision. A chapel was originally built to house the statue, but when the Benedictine monastery was founded in 976 La Moreneta, as she is called, was moved to the new basilica.
Inside the Basilica
After the service we took to the hills, at first on wide, paved trails lined with statues depicting scenes from the life of Christ. After stopping for a small picnic lunch we headed down a very narrow rocky path to what we hopped would lead us to Santa Cove, the chapel built in the 17th century on the site where the statue originally is said to have been originally found. After winding all across the end of the mountain (giving us some lovely views going all the way to the Mediterranean) we did make it to the chapel, and from there back up the step climb to the monastery. Man, my legs were tired! We walked for over 4 hours, and I really want to know how far we went! But it was a good day, and a good way to get our time zones switched. Tomorrow we head back to downtown Barcelona!

Santa Cova

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