Day #5. This was supposed to be a slow day and about time too. We had walked a lot the past few days.
We went and travel afield out of Barcelona. We were going to Monserrat to see the Virgin of Monserrat.
We had to take the regional train, R5, to Monserrat from the Plaza de Espana.
Breakfast was in one of the restaurants on the feeder roads to the Plaza de Espana. The name of the restaurant is Bar Andrurina, not that the name meant much to us. It was just a normal restaurant. We sat outside over the issue of smoke. Moreover, it is better sitting outside — people watching.
Drinks was cafe con leche (again) and fresh orange juice. I had the egg with tomato sandwich while Suanne ordered the pork coin sandwich. There was not much flavour to the pork, Suanne said, and added that it tasted more like a tomato sandwich. Breakfast was €12.30.
There was a counter down at the subway station that helps tourists on planning the day at Monserrat. Apparently we could make all the arrangements at the train station itself. It was not only the train tickets but also the gondola ride, entrances and even meals.
We went with the works mainly because we did not know what to expect. The package is €37 per person which works out to be around $57 Canadian. This includes the train from Barcelona to Montserrat, cable car, rack railway, audio visuals, museum and a meal.
The train took about an hour to get to Monserrat. We enjoyed the extended ride and slept part of the way there. We were still recovering from jet lag too, you see.
Even though we had never been here before, we knew the moment we were near Monserrat. The scenery changed and what we saw was the unmistakable jagged cliffs of Montserrat. Right up at the top, nestled between the ridges, was the famed monastery of Catalonia.
Most tourists will get to the top of Montserrat via the bright yellow cable cars. At peak time, the lines to go up is very long. There appears to be only two cars alternating between the two stations. We were early and so we just needed to wait for the next car.
We were squished into the small car like sardines. If you were not one of the few lucky ones to get to stand by a window, it is a very uncomfortable ride. We ended up in the middle where we could not see anything at all.
We thought this will be like some medieval castle. It was like a little town with modern buildings. Monserrat was first mentioned in history books as early as the 9th century. According to stories, Montserrat is suspected to be the location of the Holy Grail — interesting.
We saw lots of cars. It was only then we realized that there is a way up here by road. It sure did not look like there is a road from where we took the cable car.
We went first to the audio visual room. We were the only one there! But it was comfy with air conditioning and all. It was too comfy that we fell asleep. Woke up when the lights came on. We stayed to watch the video the next round.
The day was hot and humid. One would have thought that it would be cooler at the top of the mountain. It was not.
So we decided to duck into the museum next knowing that it will be air conditioned. There were strictly no pictures here … not even at the foyer! The museum surprisingly had a good collection of paintings including Picasso and Dali. There were also early church items on display too.
The Inner Courtyard is the oldest surviving part of Montserrat.
We then did what many people come to Montserrat to see — the Virgin of Montserrat. We took a look at the line and thought … OK, let’s just wait in line. Everyone around us was speaking Spanish (or Catalan, whatever) that it did not occur to us to ask the most fundamental of questions. How long is the line?
From where we stood, it seems like it’s less than 50 meters to the entrance. We were so wrong!
The line went on and on and on. We did not realize the time because the line moved from one area to another and there was something to see along the way. By the time we realize how long it will take to get to the Virgin, we had already waited for one hour. We were told … “Oh, you are close. Only one hour more”.
One more hour?!?
So we queued for TWO hours in all. We really had no choice. There is nothing much more to see in Montserrat and it was really hot outside. Moreover, we had already waited for one hour. So, what is one more hour right?
If we knew earlier we would not have queued to see the Virgin. At the end of the line, this is what we saw …