A Travellerspoint blog


Beautiful visit to Montserrat, and relaxing on the last day

sunny 87 °F

Sadly, we leave tomorrow to head back to reality, so this may be our last interesting post. We could never have imagined such a wonderful, relaxing, exciting honeymoon, full of learning, decompressing, and enjoying. We truly feel so lucky to have been on this journey, and especially to have done it together. And thank you for reading along with us! The comments have been really special and we’re so glad to hear you’ve enjoyed it. Now, to fill you in on the last two days…

Yesterday (Sunday), we had planned a journey to Montserrat, which is just outside of Barcelona. Montserrat was founded as a monastery in the 11th century, which was destroyed in large part during the French War (~1808) but was restored beginning in 1844. Montserrat is located on a huge mountain with absolutely incredible views of Catalunya, and it came highly recommended to us, so we knew we had to go. Honestly, I woke up on Sunday thinking that I’d rather just stay in bed, but I am SOO glad we ended up making the journey. After Kev worked out (and I actually did stay in bed), we jumped on the Barcelona Metro to Placa de Espanya, where we caught a 90-minute train to Montserrat. Once we arrived in Montserrat, we had to take an “aeri” (a cable car) to get to the monastery, on top of the mountain. Here are a few views of the aeri itself, and what we saw from the aeri. We also have a fantastic video of our journey, but I still can’t figure out how to post videos :) IMG_3673.jpgIMG_3675.jpgIMG_3680.jpgIMG_3689.jpgIMG_3693.jpgIMG_3695.jpg

The aeri took us to the base of Montserrat, where we were surprised to find that it was more like a village than just a one-building monastery. Right away, we were amazed by the gorgeous views from the top! We had a quick lunch – salad and cherries for me and chicken and pasta for Kev. Then, we headed out to explore the area and see the views! Here is the monastery itself. Today, the monastery is home to 80 monks, who follow the Rule of St. Benedict and devote their lives to prayer instead of work. The monks must meet as a group to pray 5 times per day, plus spend considerable time in private prayer, reading the Bible, and other spiritual works. Wow! IMG_3704.jpgIMG_3708.jpgIMG_3710.jpg

We took a very steep funicular up to the real peak of the mountain, which was 1,000 meters above the monastery. From there, we did a 20 minute hike to the Chapel of St. Joan. We THINK it may have been originally built in 16 AD, but we couldn’t read the sign because it was faded. It was definitely restored in the 1500s. IMG_3716.jpgIMG_3725.jpgIMG_3728.jpgIMG_3729.jpgIMG_3733.jpgIMG_3740.jpgIMG_3752.jpgIMG_3755.jpg

We hiked back to the funicular stop, and then took a 50-minute route back down to the monastery. On the way down, we passed St. Miguel’s Chapel (seen here), as well as a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. It made me think of Pops, my great-grandfather, so I included it here! IMG_3734.jpgIMG_3738.jpgIMG_3743.jpgIMG_3769.jpgIMG_3773.jpgIMG_3777.jpg

These hikes were absolutely gorgeous. We loved the scenery, the peace and quiet of raw nature, and the chance to spend (more!) time together. We didn’t really know what we would be doing (hence wearing a skirt for the hikes), but were pleasantly surprised. We would absolutely recommend this to anyone who travels to Spain! IMG_3746.jpgIMG_3750.jpgIMG_3751.jpgIMG_3758.jpgIMG_3763.jpgIMG_3766.jpg

Once we left Montserrat, we did the reverse journey (aeri, train, Metro), and were tired when we got back. We relaxed a little bit and then walked around the streets of Barcelona looking for a place to eat. We ended up at this amazing buffet place with a salad bar and a hot line. Not the most authentic place ever, but definitely a Spanish flavor and exactly what we were craving. We ended up coming back and heading to bed (after blogging, of course!) IMG_3780.jpgIMG_3781.jpg

Today, we had resolved to use the last day of our honeymoon in the absolute laziest way possible, and we succeeded! We slept 11 hours (I’m not even joking! In a very strange way, walking around all day in such extreme heat, experiencing new cultures, and having new adventures is really tiring and we were worn out!), drank some coffee and read a little, then worked out. We went to the grocery store to grab some to-go lunch, and came back and ate it in bed while watching “The Proposal” (Kev wanted to watch some war-ish, manly movie, but I told him that wasn’t very honeymoon-ish!) and relaxed some more. We really spent most of the day lounging around in our hotel (which is pictured here). Tonight, we walked around La Rambla a little more, looking at some of the street performers that are ALL over the place (a few samples here), and the random pet stores in the middle of the street (Kev wanted to buy a turtle!) We ended up going back to the place we went the first night for dinner. Kev had cheese pizza (again), I had asparagus/ mushroom/ parmesan salad (again), and we shared chicken skewers (again). It was great! We are sad to be returning to the States tomorrow, but are looking forward to catching up with each of you a bit more, packing up, and starting our new lives in Chicago! The only downside of our awesome mileage tickets is that we have to conquer 5 flight legs over 48 hours in order to get back to Miami! We’ll keep you posted! IMG_3782.jpgIMG_3785.jpgIMG_3787.jpgIMG_3789.jpgIMG_3791.jpgIMG_3793.jpgIMG_3797.jpgIMG_3798.jpg

Posted by megandkev 12:27 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Crazy architecture, lots of sites, and very little ham

sunny 101 °F

Because we had such great success with the Hop-On/ Hop-Off Bus in other cities, we decided to kick off our visit to Barcelona with its own version on our first official day, Saturday. We worked out and had breakfast before hopping on the bus around 11:30am. We didn’t get off until around 6:30pm, so we saw a ton of sites and got a great feel for the vibrant city of Barcelona! Because pictures out of a moving bus window just don’t turn out that well, I’ll focus on the places where we actually hopped off the bus to look around, rather than the places we saw through the window only! It was another HOT day … up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit … and we were definitely feeling it by the end of the day, but really enjoyed our tour!

We are staying on La Rambla, the main street of Barcelona, which runs right into Placa de Catalunya, one of the two major plazas in Barcelona. It’s a huge roundabout with tons of stores lining the circle, and statues and vendors inside the circle. We forgot to take pictures, but we’ll get some tomorrow. This is where we caught the bus.

Our first stop was Casa Batlló, which was built by Antoni Gaudí, easily the most famous and well-known architect in Barcelona. Gaudí worked in the Art Noveau style, and to the average Joe (or Megan or Kevin), his work just looks trippy and crazy! He almost never uses straight lines, and employs bright colors and strange proportions that make you feel as if you were in a fun house. Gaudí worked on several of Barcelona’s most famous architectural wonder, and Casa Batlló is just one of them. It was built between 1904 and 1906, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005. Here you see the outside of the building, which is located in the middle of a normal city block and definitely stands out! IMG_3540.jpg

We took an audiotour (where you have your own headset and go at your own pace), so most of my information is from there. This is the main staircase, which is said to resemble the backbone of a huge prehistoric sea mammal, and forms the middle support of the “body” (house). You can also see that the walls and ceilings are all hand-painted with scaly designs, and the stained glass throughout is very ocean-like, both of which carry on the symbolism of the sea animal and ocean itself. Notice how Gaudí uses NO straight lines! IMG_3547.jpgIMG_3552.jpgIMG_3557.jpg

Gaudí supposedly did not work on the actual building of the house himself, and didn’t even draw out accurate plans, but just hand-crafted this plaster model and asked his builders to recreate it. He would then make on-the-spot changes and additions until it met his standards … I have a feeling he’d be a tough boss! Here are a few shots of the inside of the house, including a huge skylight spanning all 5 stories of the house that is lined with handcrafted, blue tile (darker at the top, since the sunlight is stronger there). There’s also a “spine” room that makes you feel like you’re inside the ribcage of the sea animal (supposedly!). IMG_3562.jpgIMG_3580.jpgIMG_3559.jpgIMG_3587.jpg

Gaudí did some crazy things with his outside terraces, as well. Here you see the balcony (notice the random pillars blocking the exit from the house) and the roof garden, with some funky chimneys. We really enjoyed this visit and enjoyed hearing the “artistic” perspective, since we are pretty uneducated in that arena! IMG_3566.jpgIMG_3570.jpgIMG_3571.jpgIMG_3584.jpgIMG_3586.jpg

Our next stop was Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s most famous church, and Gaudí’s dream, which he worked on for over 40 years and was almost manically obsessed with. Construction started in the late 19th century, and when Gaudí died in 1926, he said “my client is in no hurry for Sagrada Familia to be finished … God has all the time in the world.” Apparently, he knew it would drag on for a while, and it’s still not completed! It’s now completely funded by private, anonymous donations, so progress is quite slow. Unfortunately, the line to enter was crazy long, so we didn’t try to wait, but we spent time walking around the outside and admiring all the intricate details that went into constructing this enormous church! IMG_3593.jpgIMG_3597.jpgIMG_3598.jpgIMG_3600.jpgIMG_3603.jpgIMG_3615.jpg

Our next stop was Park Guell, a large park designed by (you guessed it) Gaudí. The Park has several interesting features, all of which integrate Gaudí’s work with nature. You see here the famous statue of a lizard, the view up to the Park, and the pillars of the “cave” originally designed as a marketplace. The Park was really interesting to walk around, but at this point we were hot and hungry, and Kev decided that he was not Gaudí’s #1 fan (despite being really glad he saw everything and learned about the style), so we decided to leave and grab lunch. IMG_3620.jpgIMG_3622.jpgIMG_3626.jpgIMG_3633.jpg

As many of you know, I love Spain and have such great memories of almost every part of it … besides the food. Now, for some people, it is delicious, and the Spanish certainly take pride in their cuisine. As many of you also know, neither Kev nor I are the biggest fans of ham or unidentifiable meats (besides Wild Boar. We LOVE Wild Boar, as you all now know – ha!). Ham just so happens to be the most important staple of the Spanish diet, followed closely by other unidentifiable meats, SO … we’re not the biggest fans. I know I’m offending any Spanish people reading this, so I’m sorry … it’s our problem, not yours! :) Anyway, we looked for an “un-Spanish” place but couldn’t find one, so Kev went with the standby cheese pizza, and I went with the “Mixed Salad with Tuna,” of which I had WAY too many while I was studying in Madrid. It was pretty good, but we didn’t gain points for authenticity. IMG_3634.jpg

Anyway, after we got back on the bus, we passed by a famous Monastery (Monestir de Pedralbes), the Palau Reial (former royal palace), and Futbol Club Barcelona (the stadium of Barcelona’s main soccer team, shown here). We also saw the Placa de Espanya (Barcelona’s other major plaza), and several neighborhoods with unique architectural styles. We got off briefly at MNAC (the National art Museum of Catalunya), but didn’t go inside – we just wanted to see the views! They were great. IMG_3654.jpgIMG_3655.jpgIMG_3656.jpgIMG_3662.jpg

We drove past all the Olympic stadiums and facilities from the 1992 Olympic Games (you see the Torre de Calatrava, used for Olympic communications, here), as well as the World Trade Center and the Port of Barcelona. Here’s a picture of Kev on the bus (I think it was heat stroke that got to our heads!). IMG_3666.jpgIMG_3648.jpg

Finally, we returned to La Rambla (seen here … more pictures later), took a quick nap, and headed out to dinner. We did a terribly American, terribly touristic thing … we went to Hard Rock (gasp!). I have to say, though, it was pretty good! Kev had a chicken sandwhich with bacon and cheese, and I had the most gigantic salad in the history of mankind (basically a huge head of romaine lettuce split in half, thrown on the grill – very interesting! – and topped with chicken, pineapple, blue cheese, pecans, and balsamic vinegar). After dinner, we called it a day and relaxed in our hotel, resting up for the next day in Montserrat! Only 2 days left … then back to reality! (PS ... like the blue dress in these pictures? I bought it from a vendor in Florence!) IMG_3667.jpgIMG_3669.jpgIMG_3671.jpg

Posted by megandkev 14:09 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

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