Sunday, July 30 –
The next morning we ate our free breakfast of jamon, croissants, queso and orange juice before heading into the train station. We decided to take a day trip outside Barcelona to see some spectacular scenery in the mountains around Catalunya.
A Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya train took us from Plaça d’Espanya station in Barcelona to a small train station. After disembarking, we boarded the Funicular de Sant Joan funicular railway – one of the longest in the world – that took us to the top of a mountain range. For a while we were higher than some low-hanging clouds which lent a dramatic backdrop to the mountains. Upon arrival at the top around 4,000 feet, we explored one of the great monasteries of Europe – the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The monastery makes up an entire cluster of buildings dramatically perches amongst ridge of the mountains and isolated from the plains below.
We toured the cloisters, cathedral, plaza and other buildings. For centuries before the first printing presses, the monks worked on writing out some of the world’s most beautiful Bibles by hand. It gave me arthritis just thinking about it! We saw some of the old Bibles, and the calligraphy of the elaborate works was rich and colorful.
That afternoon, we admired the views all the way to the Mediterranean before taking the funicular back down. We said goodbye to Montserrat and took the train back to Sants Station. That evening, my brother and I decided to splurge on a good dinner. We chose a restaurant on the beach called Marina Moncho’s. Under an umbrella, we watched the sunset dramatically sink into the Mediterranean as we enjoyed some great seafood. I ate some gambas a la gabardina, had ensalada de casa, and enjoyed some amazing Spanish bread before a dessert of choco y almendras. It cost about $60 for both of us, but it was worth it!
Afterwards, we went back to the foot of Montjuic to watch the Magic Fountain one last time. It delighted both young and old, Spanish and foreigners. Just a fantastic way to end the trip. I had a relatively early flight the next morning, so we had to go back to the hotel and get ready for our departure on Monday.