Over the last few days I had yet another friend visit from England, Helen, who is also a photography enthusiast. Not being much of a tourist, there are still some popular attractions local to Barcelona I have not yet ventured to visit. One of them being the monestary/abbey, situated just under 1km high on the side of Montserrat, 48km west of Barcelona. So it was that we decided to blat out there using the bus service from Sants station, costing just €5.10 per person each way, taking just over an hour, & departing at 09'15.
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We didn't research our destination before leaving, but had expectations of finding an ancient, wind-&-time eroded monastery peopled by silent robed figures, be-sandaled & shorn, emanating vibes of instant calming. But no, it wasn't like that at all, in fact neither of us saw anyone who resembled a monk during the whole 6 hours of our exploration.
The journey there was uneventful, meandering out of Barcelona through industrial suburbs, passing old decrepit & collapsing factories, & the very lively, mud-filled river Llobregat. Soon we were climbing Montserrat, the day bright & sunny, &, within a few minutes, ascending above the vast swathes of mist that were slowly rising, with the ground temperature.
We arrived in the coach park at just before 10:30, & immediately set to photographing the near slopes of Montserrat as the morning mist crawled upwards over the lower peaks. It seems that this phenomenon occurs only for a short spell, & we were fortunate to arrive when we did; for within about an hour the cloud banks that had drifted up the side of Montserrat with us had all but dissipated.
Between the coach park & the abbey we encountered a series of stepped concrete terraces from which we shot views over the mountain slopes, & also upwards towards the various buildings of the monastery complex. For November the weather was great, about 22C, warm & bright; & being aloft that extra kilometre the suns rays had a little less distance to travel before encountering our bodies, ensuring we gathered a little more of their heat as the seconds passed.
After shooting for maybe an hour we left the terraces, passed the cheese & honey venders, & stopped off at the cafeteria ina vain attempt to satiate Helen's unsatiable appetite for tea.
After tea we wandered round to the courtyard of the abbey. By this time many more tourists had arrived, & the place was buzzing. We tried the underground museum, but didn't fancy paying, & exited rather loudly, making the most of the oddly squeaky rubberised flooring. As I mentioned earlier, we did no research regarding the history of the abbey, so I will put links at the end of the post should you feel an inner desire to further your knowledge on the subject. This is, afterall, essentially a photography blog to show you what I get up to with my camera when I'm out & about.
So, we got to shooting around what turned out to be the outer court yard, before venturing within the outer walls of the abbey itself, where there was a smaller courtyard surrounded by rooms & statues, etc. One of the rooms containing a spontaneous flock, arrived for early afternoon mass. If you are religious & Christian then you would probably find this area appealing to your ritualistic side, as there was also a 'silent' room for prayer & an area for lighting & placing candles in front of Christian icons.
The abbey is served by a train service & cable cars besides the road which allows cars & coach access. But if you want to reach the summit of the nearest peak without walking, there is a novel form of transport in the form of the funicular railway. This feat of engineering consists of a pair of carriages connected by a cable which is looped around pullies & powered electricly. The two carriages counter-balance each other, so that one ascends as the other descends a steel rail at an angle of about 60 degrees. So by this means of transportation we arrived at a nearby peak which was just a few metres short of 1km.
We took to a path that led further upwards at a gentle incline, taking a few pictures along the way, but time was getting on, & we needed soon to return to catch our coach back to Barcelona (though not before Helen secreted herself on a hidden plateau for a spot of mountain meditation).
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