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Adventures of a short vet

Montserrat Monastery

SPAIN | Tuesday, 5 October 2010 | Views [3022]

To be fair it is pretty high

To be fair it is pretty high

As the weather was meant to pack it in later in the week I decided to head out to see the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery while the sun was still around. Once again my nerdy research made the trip a lot easier, as I managed to catch the metro to Espana station where I bought a combined train + cable car ticket from a machine (which conveniently had an English option). Having just missed the train I was glad I’d packed a book for the 45 minute wait for the next one. It’s easy to get off at the wrong station as there are 2 stops on the mountain – one for the cable car and another for the furnicular (little rail car for people scared of heights yet wanting to go to the top of a very high mountain) and a few people made this mistake. Should’ve checked google first!

Unfortunately I arrived at the monastery just as mass started, which meant I couldn’t enter the church until it finished, so I decided what the hell, let’s climb the highest mountain instead! I caught the furnicular up to the Sant Joan stop, then followed the signposted track up to the peak of Sant Jeroni, a mere 1,236m above sea level. Since I’d decided I needed a bit of training before my Morocco trip I hoofed it up, and reduced a 1.5hour climb to under 1 hour! The views were AMAZING, and apparently on a clear day you can see right across to the Pyrenees Mountains. On the way back I watched a couple of crazy guys rock climbing up a curved granite face. Apparently the Cavall Bernat (1,111 m) is an important rock feature popular with climbers. Little did I know I would soon be doing the same thing! I had enough time for a fast-walk up Sant Joan to the little hut, but unfortunately not enough to visit Santa Cova, where the Virgin Mary is said to have visited. Beware the path back is extremely steep, to the point where you have to lean back to keep your balance – my poor aching knees! I managed to get back to the monastery safely enough to visit the church to see the Virgin of Montserrat, a "black Madonna" statue, which is an object of pilgrimage as well as the patron saint of Catalonia. It was beautiful and worth the second visit, but I decided not to take photos as it felt somehow disrepectful in the solemn church. It was a moment I am unlikely to forget any time soon.

On the train home I met some ex-South Africans who had emigrated to Israel almost 40 years ago and raised their family there. It was very interesting hearing their views on traveling and Israel, and we had a good long chat while randomly having to change trains and wait for another one to come along.

After a long day of hiking and traveling there was no better way to end it than with a glass of sangria on La Rambla. Ah!

Tags: black madonna statue, hiking, monastery, montserrat, sant jeroni

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