Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Mountains of Montserrat, Spain

One major force for our return trip to Barcelona was to take a day to see Montserrat. Here in this jagged rock mountain formation a Benedictine abbey pops up unexpectedly. This has been Catalunya's most important pilgrimage site for a thousand years. Hymns explain how this "serrated mountain" was carved by little angels with golden saws. Sounded like our kind of place.Plus we felt a little overwhelmed by the smog and pollution in Barcelona. I hadn't remembered it from our last visit but a visible blanket was everpresent. The fresh mountain air seemed a perfect prescription after the urban bustle and sprawl.We geared up for our Montserrat day trip - Connor jammin' with her Ipod Shuffle and her box of raisins as we attempt to get her dressed. What more do you need?!? And why does dressing a two year old have to be such a piece by piece workout?!?We wound through many hairpin turns to reach Montserrat. We drove but there are also cable car and funicular options too. Up, up, up into the clouds. Elmo got to join us too!There was a baffling festival of sorts going on. I tried to find information about the celebration but came up short. These large puppet men were dancing and twirling to a band. Connor was at first intrigued and then terrified. Can't say I blame her!Here Kirk assures Connor the big dancing people were not out to get her.We darted across the dancing into the church. Montserrat is a major pilgrimage site for folks to come and rub the "Black Madonna." There were choirs and concerts inside - we enjoyed the merriment.Stumbling across the votive flickering Ave Maria Path we of course had to light a candle and say a prayer. We may have cut out a lot of expenses by moving abroad, but the church candle purchases are a new line item on our balance sheet!All in all I have to be honest...Montserrat fell kinda flat given our high expectations. The scenery was beautiful, but the crowds put a bit of a damper on the serene-ness. And the crammed cafeteria lunch spun it away from the religious/cultural AHA experience we imagined. We were glad we went to check it out for ourselves, but with limited time in Spain I would put Montserrat farther down on the must-see list than I originally ranked it.

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