Meeting Montse in Montserrat
Montserrat Travel Blog› entry 8 of 11 › view all entries
September 21st, 2009 – by: Pearl510
I caught the train without any troubles this time. It wasn't much of a challenge though, as I bought the "all inclusive" Trans Montserrat ticket in advance, mainly out of laziness. I think that maybe, if I would have bought all the tickets separately, I would have spend a little less. But then again, now I didn't have to waste time queuing or buying tickets at the funiculars etc. After all the troubles with tickets and trains yesterday, I was happy to play it safe this time.
En route I met a lovely American couple who asked me out on if I was traveling alone, where I was from, etc. It was an interesting conversation as the woman happened to have grown up in Catalonia (as born from a Spanish mother and Portuguese father). She told me about the importance of the Mont Serrat Monestary, not only for religious matters but also because it preserved much of the Catalan identity and language during the Franco era. An importance so big, that many Spanish girls later were named after this cloister. And so was she: Montse.
The three of us got of at the second Montserrat stop: the one that leads to the Cremallera. There's another stop earlier, for those who want to take the cable car up, but that didn't appeal to me much. First of all, I don't like heights that much, neither the possibility of falling down.
Once on the site, I first visited the Cathedral itself. In front of the entrance, there is a little patio giving nice views over the morning lit facade of the building, showing the 13 statues of Jesus and his apostles. There's a circle on the floor where people go standing with there arms raised to the statues, in order to receive a blessing, I presume. If someone can tell me what the legend is about, please do.
After wondering the grounds around the monastery, I decided not to waste a good day sitting inside the cathedral. The queue to see the black Madonna was so long it could have easily been an hour wait, while the weather was just perfect.
From the upper station of the funicular, several paths lead to different viewpoints and chapels. I first walked some 15 minutes to the St. Joan chapel, from where there are wonderful views over the plains and mountain. I sat down to eat a cookie but after only 2 minutes a giant wasp appeared, and she was on a mission to conquer my food. That I didn't like at all. There were plenty of other tourist around (Germans, by the way) so I didn't want to make a scene, but I couldn't help getting really upset as the animal didn't leave me alone.
After that lucky encounter, I took the path that left from the other side of the funicular station. I didn't really knew where it went to though. At first I just wanted to take pictures from another angle, but the landscape was so stunning that I kept walking on an on. For the first 20 minutes I didn't see a single person. It was SO quiet out there. I remember doubting about going back as I had no clue of were I was going and got the feeling that no one else was taking this route.
It was a beautiful walk past rough rock formations, a little church and another viewpoint, where a cross stood. Then, almost back at the monastery, I passed Montse and George again. Apparently, after he had eaten my cookie, the wasp had left him (aiming for the lunch of the German girls) and they had taken the funicular back down.
My last walk was one to the Santa Cova, the cave were the statue of the Virgin Mary is said to be found. Now there's a chapel build around it, where people leave gifts to thank the Lady for making their wishes come true. I didn't take the funicular down but walked instead. This side of the mountain was shaded now, which made the walk more pleasent. The views weren't as spectacular as the ones from on top, but it was a nice walk anyway, and the chapel was very charming and quiet.
Last but not least I went back to the Basilica, where the queue for the statue was now very short (I reckon most people visit first and then go up the mountains). The path led through beautiful niches of which many where decorated with wonderful mosaiks or woodwork. But it was the Madonna that was really stunning. I had noticed a similar styled statue in the Esglesia de Santa Maria del Mar, and I wanted to memorize the Madonna well, so that I could compare both. I had thought of a wish as well. It is said that when you touch the Madonna and make a wish, it will come true. So I had a deep thought, decided what I wanted the most of all, and decided to wish for that.
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