Published: June 18th 2012June 18th 2012
Hotel in Barcelona
Montserrat Sunday Fathers Day June 17, 2012
Also called the saw tooth mountains, this is the site of a famous historic Benedictine monastery built in the 1500’s and destroyed by Napoleon in the later 1800’s. The monastery is the resting place of the “Black Madonna”
The story goes that the monks once held a famous carving of a Madonna made from cherry wood. Over the years the stone darkened naturally. It was discovered recently that the hands and face were actually painted, first brown then black, so as to preserve the statue. The statue was venerated and considered very sacred and thus, valuable. When the Moors invaded Spain in the 1500’s the Black Madonna was hidden in a cave, to protect her from the infidels, in the hills around Montserrat. There the statue remained hidden and was presumed lost, that was until it was accidentally discovered by one of the monks that still resided in the rebuilt monastery. A new cathedral was built atop the mountain and the statue was placed high on the altar, 60 feet above the cathedral floor. It is still venerated today by locals and visitors alike, who stand in queue for hours to climb
Sacred Family Cathedral designed by Gaudi
the hidden staircase to spend 15 seconds in prayer with the statue.
The monastery is modern and old at the same time. It is only 100 years old, rebuilt in 1900, but was built in a classical style giving it the feeling of old with the construction of new.
After our walking tour, we were allowed free time to explore and eat. We dined at one of the cafeterias on sausage and pizza, and finished off the meal with a local treat. A goat milk cheese, the consistency of cottage cheese, sweetened with honey, locally made of course. It reminded us of the yogurt we had in Greece, a similar treat with honey.
After lunch we returned to the bus for the drive down the mountain and to the hotel. We will decide then if we will return to the city to walk and shop, or if we will rest a bit before our special dinner at the buffet restaurant, famous for having over 70 appetizers to begin you meal.
We arrived back to the hotel and the siren call for a nap overcame any hope of going into town to shop. Cathy hit the bed
Rick and Alla
while I washed up and was fast asleep before I returned from the wash room!
Dinner 8:15 PM
As promised we went to the local buffet noted for its amazing food and it was not disappointing. We enjoyed a beautiful drive downtown with 17 total people; the rest either stayed in bed or went shopping. I hope the others had as great a time as we did.
First were the cold salads and there was a score of those. Greens and mixed salads some with crab and some with cheese but all colorful and delicious. Next came the fish. Shrimp, crab, calamari, crab stuffed Rangoon, and many other delights. Then there were the hot meats and soups to round out the options.
At our tables were free flowing bottles of white and red wines, cold water and beer and pop to order. The wines were local and excellent. After the appetizer came the main course which was served Gaucho style. The meat was prepared on an open spit and served on swords at the table. The waiter came to your table and offered you a slice or two. We had beef (flavorful but cooked rare), chicken
(excellent), two kinds of fish (the tuna was a little overdone) and some absolutely perfect sausage. You could eat as much as you wanted and we did. A plate of sorbet with a delicious slice of chocolate mousse rounded out the meal. All was washed down with strong espresso.
After dinner we did a tour of Barcelona by night. We drove to the site of the 1992 Olympics and were treated to panoramic views of this beautiful city. Then we drove down to the site of the 1929 World’s Exposition and were treated to the sights and sounds of the dancing fountains. There were thousands of people walking the old exhibition mall area enjoying the sights and sounds. The night was calm and cool, the heat of the day behind us. The whole evening was more than very enjoyable.
After the dancing fountains it was time to say goodbye to Barcelona and head back to the hotel for some much needed rest. Our wakeup call is 6:30 AM with breakfast at 7 and departure to Valencia and another full day of touring.
There are more photos below