Today I was so excited! I was going out of town, taking the Reznik to Montserrat!
Montserrat is at the same time an impressive rocky mountain that is a Natural Park, and also a Basilica that is the spiritual heart of Catalonia.
The driver and I picked them up at their hotel, and we headed to the Ronda Litoral to exit the city. We took a road that crosses local vegetable farming as well as well as industrial areas, driving up the Llobregat river. On our way I answered some of their questions about the history of Barcelona and our local language Catalan. They seemed very interested to learn more about the present political situation and the growing will to seceed from Spain. I gave them a historical perspective of the conflict, and what political and economical facts have ignited the current situation, and how people are experiencing it.
Then, as soon as Montserrat appeared to view, I started giving them an introduction about the place: its fascinating geological origin, and the legend of how the Black Madonna was miraculously found in a cave.
The traffic had been nice, so in just 45min we reached the foot of the mountain (some other times it takes about 1 hour). We stopped to take a picture of the monastery and the mountain from the bottom, and then I asked them if they’d like to take the cable car or if they’d rather continue driving.
The cable car ride takes 5 minutes, and is very steep but fun. However, Linda was scared of hights, so we decided to just drive to the Monastery instead: the views are equally spectacular!
The Reznik had booked a 6 hour tour, with men that we have time to visit the Black Madonna shrine. The first thing we did with getting there, and we arrived on time before they closed the gates ( as during services they don’t allow people visiting the shrine). The line wasn’t too long, but it is always good to have to wait a little bit a custom is way you get more time inside the Basilica sites chapels to admire their artwork.
Once it was our turn to enter the Black Madonna shrine, with it as it is traditional: kiss or touch her hand and make a wish, of course! And we took a couple of quick pictures, because there were other people behind us waiting to do that, too.
On the way out, we also stopped to lit up a candle, and now that we were not in a hurry anymore, I showed them around the outside of the monastery and I told them more about its history and artwork.
Now we needed to decide: would they like to visit the art Museum, or take the funicular up to Sant Joan and then hike down, or maybe get tickets for the audiovisual show and visit its exhibit? Be decided on this last thing, and that also allow us some extra time to visit the farmer market where we bought mató (the traditional Montserrat ricotta cheese), and we were offered to try a different type of cheeses.
We also had time to have a coffee break and visit the giftshop, before heading back to the Basilica around 12.30: Even if the boys choir doesn’t sing until 1 PM, if you don’t arrive early enough it is very hard to get a good spot to watch them sing (and if you wish to see, you need to be there at least one hour earlier!). This time we were lucky, we managed to get some great spots almost first line in one of the side alleys.
While we waited for the kids to arrive, we kept discussing the Basilica and other things they wanted to know. and little before the choir arrived, one of the monastery monks made everyone get up and take together the Lord’s Prayer, each visitor in their own language aloud. It gives you such a feeling of spirituality and connection!
Finally, the does that connects with the Escolania school opened, and the kids of the choir entered diligently and arrange themselves around the altar. They sang a version of the Salve ( a song dedicated to the beach and Mary), and then everyone stood up to listen to the Virolai, the anthem of Montserrat. I learned that when I was a child, and I can’t stop myself from joining in in whispers every time I hear it.
After the singing was over, it was time to head back to the car. The driver was waiting for us at the end of the street that takes to the monastery, in a turnabout right after the farmer’s market. It was time to go home!
On the way down the mountain we took a different road, so we could show the Reznik other areas of the mountain. I took also the opportunity to show them some rocks that have quite curious shapes (my favorite is the one called the “Camel”!).
And soon we where joining the highway on our way back to Barcelona, when we arrived around 2:30 PM on time for a late Spanish lunch.
Did you like my story? Check out my website if you wish to take one of my tours of Montserrat.