As much as I can love a city, sometimes I just have to get out of Dodge while the getting is hot. So while today’s post refers to Barcelona Day 4, I’m actually putting you on a train and we’re climbing the heights to Montserrat (which means serrated mountain).
The last time I was in this part of Spain, I visited the Benedictine abbey called Santa Maria de Montserrat, queued up and touched the statue of la Moreneta (the black Madonna). It was very windy and chilly that day and I secretly hoped that I would some day get to come back and scale its jagged hills. Be careful what you wish for…
When you reach the base of Monserrat, you can either take the cable car or train up to the abbey. I choose the Cremallera, or rack railway:
I am incapable of describing to you the rush you get when you get there. You know it is not a movie set.
You know it’s one of the most important religious retreats for millions of Catholics around the world, with a history like no other, including having a publishing house with one of the world’s oldest presses still running (its first book was published in 1449).
You know its celebrated Escolania, a boys’ choir, is a treat to behold and the reason why people rush the basilica to secure a place during its daily performance:
But what I know yet cannot articulate is the sense of being one with the universe when I am up here. It’s not about religion or faith or any such discourse. It’s about seeing how beautiful nature can still be even after it’s been assimilated by man for his own purposes. Before I go off on another tangent, let’s just look at the next three photos which say all that I cannot…
So that’s basically my view while I munch on my patata bocadillo this sunny afternoon (btw if you plan on a day trip there, bring food as there are limited options at the abbey)…
With the wind rustling through my hair, I take the last few bites and ask myself how we all got so lucky to have landed on this planet. But it’s time to go. I’ve come here for a reason.
So up the funicular I go to get to the hiking trails…
There are options depending on the duration and difficulty of the trails. It’s all a mystery to me but ultimately the goal is to reach the summit of Sant Jeroni.
The problem is on a crowded day, you’ll get advice from strangers telling you to climb up this hill and down that tunnel, so then you completely lose focus. So after all, a hike to the top that’s supposed to only take 2 hours or so becomes 4. But who am I to complain when all these detours lead to the photos that you see here?
But the point is to get to the point. Yep, 1236 meters above sea level. As in 4,055 feet.
And I have to say, just as I finally can see the destination, the last few steps up are the toughest given the strong, strong winds. I grip on to the railing as my fear of heights rears its ugly head and begins to howl back at the winds. The funny thing about trying to conquer your fear of heights is that it doesn’t really work. You just struggle with it as it hits.
In my last photo I want to show you how magnificent this place is, away from all the allure of the abbey. If you look closely you can see a tiny hiker on one of the crags:
Even when I stand at my tallest out here, I am but a speck of dust in this great, big universe. And this is why I roam.