Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 11 - Barcelona

Our final day in Spain.  We have had a fantastic vacation and we are ready to go home.  In fact, we are on layover at Heathrow Airport in the UK as I write and post our final Spain vacation blog.

What We Did Today:
We hopped on another train and went an hour or so outside Barcelona to Montserrat, meaning serrated mountain.  The monestary is nestled in the jagged peaks at 2,400 feet.  The first monks built huts at Montserrate around A.D. 900 and the monestary was founded in 1025.  The Choir School followed shortly thereafter and is considered the oldest music school in Europe.   The boys choir still perform concerts.  We were fortunate enough to hear them sing live while we were visting.  As with many monestaries and places people consider religiously sacred, Montserrat has had it's share of turmoil and destruction.  

We took the cable car (funicular) to the top

View from the funicular while ascending the mountain

The top attraction of Montserrat is La Morneta, the small wood statue of the Black Virgin, discovered in the Sacred Cave in the 12th century.  Legend states she was carved by St. Luke and brought to Spain by St. Peter, hidden away in the cave during the Moorish invasions and discovered by shepherd children.  Carbon dating puts her at 800 years old.  The original statue was lighter and she has darkened over the centuries from candle smoke, humidity and the natural aging process of her original varnish.  Pilgrims follow a long, ornate passageway inside the basillica for their moment to touch the virgin and be "alone" with her.  We followed the pilgrims in and had our moment with her.  Just before you get to her, is an arch-coverd stairwell filled with shimmering tiles of several female saints.  The space stood out from the rest because is sparkled with light where the rest of the basillica is dimly lit and filled with dark, ornate wood furniture and carvings.  She sits behind a protective case and her hand is accessible through a small hole just big enough to put your fingers on hers.  Sorry - no photos allowed.  

Outside the Basillica 

Inside the Basillica - La Morneta is in the window above the the back of the alter and if you look closely you can see the boy choir in their white robes.

Then we ventured up even higher via the Sant Joan Funicular, another 820 feet.  Looking down at the monestary.  

The view on the way back down from Sant Joan

We met people from all over while spending the day here.  We heard more English spoken, with American accents, here than we did our entire two weeks.  We met people from Philadelphia and Houston.  While waiting for the Sant Joan funiclular we had a lovely chat with two gentleman from Norway.  We learned the English, Scandanavians and Irish all vacation in Spain.  The main reasons being it is easy to get to with loads of flight options and it's much less expensive than other warm climate countries in Europe.  These two gentlemen were snowbirds from Norway.  One has a house with his wife outside of Barcelona.

Word of the Day
We saw this on a couple menues and finally asked.  "Farm crashed eggs" means fried egg.  We assumed it meant scrambled eggs just due to the word crashed.

Till next trip,

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