It’s evening and the tunes are starting to flow through the cool night air. A sparkling sound from the big thumping Sonos speaker gets my head in the game, gets my fingers to moving, and finds a beat that is hard to ignore. Some kind of lethargy has taken hold, and a bit of real-time fatigue, set in motion by a 24 day trip to Europe where we toured Barcelona, Lisbon, and the island of Madeira. If I’m honest I’d say the biggest trouble is that I’ve shed my jet lag but left my heart and a large dollop of my energy nine hours away. Maybe getting it down on paper with a few photos to support, I’ll be able to return to my bay area digs, heart, bones, and spirit.
Last year my wife and I started reading Dan Brown’s book Origin, and while I found the premise interesting I did not find reading it particularly rewarding. The story had its engaging moments, especially the artificial intelligence bits. I didn’t finish it. On return from our adventure one of my friends asked how I enjoyed Barcelona given that I’d read Origin, and I was clueless about her meaning. She said the book is, at least in part, set in Spain. I had not noticed that.
We already bought the book from Audible so I downloaded it and started at the beginning. The opening scene is at Montserrat (serrated edge) monastary, where we traveled to view the black Madonna. Now I have a book to read, but this time with a bit more attention.
We took the metro to the train and rode north out of Barcelona through small cities and farmland, toward a towering mountain, with steep crags at it’s pinnacle.
There are two stops for Montserrat (serrated edge) train station. We took the first for the gondola. The second, I believe, is serviced by a tram that rides a track up the mountain. I’m not positive, but there may be a walking option. The station was the launching point for the gondola that moved us up to the monastery in about 5 minutes. It’s steep, but follows the contour of the land so is never that far from the ground, but looking back down into the valley, it’s a long ways. We were there in October. It was cool on the mountain, but overall, the temperatures were quite mild throughout our trip. Not so, I hear, in the summer months.
When we entered the grounds I was trying to imagine how they built this place. It’s work getting things up the mountain now, but around 1025 AD? It’s a long way from anywhere, and it’s up a mountain. Would be fascinating to go back in time and be a fly on the wall, to see them making measurements, cutting stone, hauling heavy materials up a steep, rocky mountain.
Note the people standing above and to the left of the crucifix. We stood in line for our turn to get there and see the Black Madonna. As we stood in a slow moving line along the inside wall of the cathedral we could look out into the sanctuary and get an up-close viewing of the architecture. Our Donna, below, with the Black Madonna.
There’s a beautiful entry with expansive views over the valley below. We heard about a series of hikes that are available, but that will have to wait for another day.
Outside the cathedral the sun was getting low in the sky, casting long shadows across the valley below where we’d catch our train back to Barcelona.
The ride down was quick and easy. Our car was full and it rode quite a bit lower than a fairly empty car that we pass on our decent.
I’m still a little tired, but I’ll renew myself and talk about Christ in our travels.