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Published: March 26th 2012
This week new classes started and while language classes stay the same, my culture classes are now Spanish Modern and Contemporary Art and Hispoamerica Culture through literature art and painting, and we get to go on a field trip tomorrow! Field trips, siestas, beaches and sangria? This just might be paradise!
After travelling around the past couple weeks, I decided to take and easy weekend and enjoy Barcelona and take a trip to nearby Montserrat! This is an area built into the mountains with a lot of religious and catalan historical value. When Nepolian found the town, he destroyed it and once the people started to rebuild Franco put the laws that rejected Cataluynian culture into affect and the project was postponed. Franco's death fueled the reconstruction and rebirth to this amazing landscape, which is now one of the greatest tourist's spots in Catalunya.
Only an hour train ride away from Barcelona, the station sits at the very bottom of the mountain range. In order to get to the top there is either a tram that goes vertically up on tracks, or a german built cable car. We decided on the cable car and take the opportunity
to watch the ground dissappear slowly away! Where the cable car lets off isn't actually the very top, but about 1000 or so meters from it, but it is where the Basilica that houses the Black Virgin is located. There is also museums, shops and an open market that gives samples of cheese, honey and fig and nut snacks.
The Basilica's exterior was under construction but the inside made up for it! The gold trim along the ceiling and lit torches lined the aisles of the ongoing mass! Not just the ceiling of the altar was painted in this cathedral, the whole walls surrounding it were as well, and never have I seen such a large organ set up!! All along the hallways leading to the Virgin are statues and stained glass of saints and other biblical tales. One section that was really beautiful was the entryway to one of the stairwells that had angels carved out of a white marble, I still don't understand how artists can take such care and time to make each finger, ear, feather and toe absolutlely perfect in stone.
The story behind the Black Virgin is that when Neopolian came to destroy
the city, it was one off the only pieces the monks could hide and save. She was hidden in a cave down the mountain and kept safe and stayed there for quite some time before being moved to her now resting place above the altar overlooking mass. The tradition is to kiss the orb in her hand, the only part that is not encased in glass. On the way out of the Basilica there is a cave-like walkway of candles lit for prayer and loved ones.
After visiting the Basilica we decided to put our butts to work and starting climbing to the top! Little did we know until about 30 minutes up that the trek is 1-3 hours depending on where you want to go, so we decided ( in our jeans tanks and sneakers....unlike the other decked out hikers fit with spandex and hiking poles) to hit the first stop we could come to which was only about 850 meters up. The "stairs" up are all carved into the mountain and at points they dissapear into a flat landscape or change into dirt trails. As sore as we were, the views kept us motivated and it was
so worth all the sweat! From where we stopped you could see both ends of the mountain range with the station and town resting the valley between them. Everyone we passed were very friendly and seemed to be enjoying their time just as much as we were! There was even a mother-daughter pair enjoying some wine on a bench about halfway up...they had the right idea 😊
After taking a little break to eat some lunch and wander, we decided to find the Sacred Cove, about a 40 hike further down than the cable car dropped us. Now we kind of though that this cave was going to be a huge bear like cave with religious drawings on the walls and everything but it was actually a Chapel built around an altar carved into the mountain, where the Black Virgin used to be housed. A tradition in the chapel is to leave a souvenior behind as an offering, there was everything from directions, harities, pictures, helmets and socks so I decided to leave an American penny! Thinking that the 'real' (we didn't realize it really was the cave yet) cave had to be on the dirt/mud trail that followed
lookin up view
under the chapel, we took it about halfway and then decided that sliding down a mountain probably shouldn't be checked off the bucket list!
Hiking back, we took the time to look at all the religious statues that lead the way to the cove and continue in awe of the landscape. We had a snack, grabbed some souveniors and tasted a few cheese and fig treats before getting back in the cable car to return to the train station! It was a great day for an adventure, and we absolutely appreciated it after having a few days of rain this week.
Since it's my first Sunday home for "family day" I'm veryy excited to have eaten lasanga and calamari for lunch and we're about to enjoy some veggie pizza and salad for dinner!!
Until next week stay happy and healthy!! Thanks for reading!
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