The Maas family took a city tour with us, but they also wanted to spend a day out of town. After learning a bit more about the things they like doing, I suggested them a couple of options for day trips and they decided to go to the Montserrat Monastery, then have lunch in Sitges. It’s one of my favorite day tours out of town!
The driver and Miriam, one of my best tour guides, picked them up at their hotel and took them to Montserrat. This wonderful place is the spiritual heart of Catalonia and a Natural Park, a Holy Mountain with breathtaking views, and a Basilica full of history. All in one!
They arrived just on time to climb the stairs of the Black Madonna chapel, before it closed for mass, and following Miriam’s instructions they did as locals do: touch or kiss Her hand and make a wish. Then they had some time to explore the mountain. There are a few things that can be done: for those that enjoy hiking, I love taking the funicular to Sant Joan, then walk down back to the Monastery admiring the impressive views.
For those passionate about art, the Montserrat museum is a must. Plus there is also an audiovisual show and exhibit about the life in the Monastery, a huge gift shop with nice quality souvenirs and presents, and a small farmers market where the vendors are always happy to give you free samples of their delicious cheeses.
Time flies there, and before you know it’s already time to head back to the basilica. We usually prefer to arrive 30min before the Escolania choir sings, so we can get a place to stand as close as possible to the altar (if you wish to get a place to sit, then you must be there one hour earlier!). Punctual as always, five minutes before 1PM a monk takes the mic to welcome the pilgrims, read a short passage of the bible in several languages and invite everyone to join him praying the Our Lord prayer in your own language.
And right after that, the boys of the choir enter the church quietly and arrange themselves around the altar. They sing two songs: the Salve (an anthem of the Virgin Mary) and the Virolai, the song of Montserrat. It just takes 10min, but their voices transport you to paradise.
After that, it’s time to head back to the car: the driver is waiting for us to take us to Sitges! The drive back to Sitges is quite scenic: first with views over Montserrat in all its length, then across the Penedès wine country. By the time we arrive to Sitges is around 2PM: time for lunch!
We know many restaurants there, but one of our favorite is that one overlooking the beach: great food and great views! And then after lunch there is some time to walk around the village and explore its marina and the white-washed streets of its oldest part.
Sitges is an old fishermen town where gathered the bohemian artists of the first generation of the Catalan Modernist Movement, and where also built their houses the immigrants that came back rich from America. I love walking around it!
And then, back to the car, most of our guests fall asleep until we arrive to Barcelona. It’s been such a pleasurable and relaxed day…
Want to go to Montserrat and Sitges with us? Check out our website!