Saturday morning we set out to figure out the trains of Barcelona to take us to Montserrat Monastery. Surprisingly, and compared ti what I'm used to in Boston, the train schedules were incredibly easy to navigate and quite punctual.
After about an hour train ride, we arrived at the foothills of Montserrat. From there we hopped on a second train that would take us up to the top to the Monastery.Montserrat It is notable for enshrining the image of the Virgin of Montserrat. The monastery was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt between 19th and 20th centuries, and still functions to this day, with over 70 monks. Montserrat is the highest point of the Catalan lowlands. Its highest point, Sant Jeroni, can either be reached by hiking or through the Funicular de Sant Joan. We of course, took the Funicular to the top and were able to take a few of the easier hiking paths around the top of the mountain. From Sant Jeroni, almost all of Catalonia can be seen, however we had a bit of a hazy day, so unfortunately our view out to Mallorca was a bit obscured.
After exploring for the better part of the day, we sat down for a beer and gelato and waited for the train to arrive to take us back to Barcelona. Montserrat was definitely my favorite adventure of this trip!
That night we went out to dinner at a small restaurant called TAPS and had a lovely meal of local tapas including pan de tomate which is my favorite dish of bread smeared with tomato that I tried back in Mallorca! After dinner we walked around a bit to Placa Espanya to view the Magic Fountain exhibit! This was a wonderful show in the center of the city where there of course is a gigantic fountain that that changes colors to music!
The next morning, we took our adventures a little easier and had a slower start. We again took the train and headed north of this city this time to Park Güell. Park Güell is now a public park system composed of architectural elements designed by Antoni Gaudi. The park which is located in La Salut, was purchased by a man named Eusebi Güell to create a gated community for the elite of Barcelona in the beginning of the 1900s. It was built until 1914, but never truly finished, and was opened to the public in 1926. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Park Güell is an incredible reflection of Gaudi's artistic vision. During construction, his personal style expanded through inspirations of geometric and organic shapes and textures.
From the Park we walked about 30 minutes to view Sagrada Familia, which is the church that Gaudi also desgined and is still under construction.
While we didn't have a chance to enter the church, we grabbed a drink and a snack and sat outside the church and then walked the perimeter to view it in its entirety.
That evening we again took to the streets to explore the Gothic Quarter and found a wonderful restaurant to enjoy Paella and wine before our trip back to Madrid the next morning.