Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 93: Ross Roams Montserrat

I grew up in the middle of a forest on a mountain. I always loved camping and being outside. After spending four years in the industrial jungle of New York City, I fell in love with nature again while living on a farm in Austin, TX. Throughout my travels in Europe, many of my fondest memories took place while I was in nature. Given my positive past experiences, when Samuel, my host in Barcelona, suggested that I go to see Montserrat, a monestery built into the side of a mountain, my shutter finger twitched excitedly.

With my eye pressed up against the lens of Samuel's telescope I saw it. Sure enough, they built that sucker right into the side of the mountain. Even 30km away, from Samuel's living room it looked amazing. I was so hyped to go, but in true Murphy style fog blanketed the next two days. Three days later, I woke up, looked out the window and smiled. Today I was going to Montserrat.

Even before I left I made a bad decision. Sebastian was kind enough to put me in touch with two friends of his who are also designers that live in Barcelona. The day previous, I set up a lunch date at 3 (yes, I was born to live in Spanish time). Naturally, I left late for Montserrat and there was no way I was going to get back by three. I was feeling guilty while waiting for the train. I had no phone so I had no way of contacting them. I desperately asked a dude next to me if I could use his iPhone to send an email. "It only works in Japan." he replied. A few seconds passed and he asked "Where are you from?" Turns out that he and his friend were also going to Montserrat. We talked for the entire train ride and explored the monestery together. They were fascinated with an American that meditates and I was fascinated by Japanese who play baseball.

Arriving at Montserrat VIA train.

One of its many beautiful plazas.
Groovy Japanese dudes.

My writing can't speak to Montserrat's magnificence as well as my pictures but it was breathtaking being up that high. I can't imagine how difficult it was to build a town in such a challenging location. It's not quite alien controversy worthy, but definitely an amazing feat.

We explored for most of the day but when I wanted to hike up to the top we split ways. Thankfully I was able to find a phone and cancel my lunch date. With a lightened mental load, I headed off; onward and upward.

This reminded me of some landscape out of Myst.

Lovin' it.

Spectacular scenery.

As I wheezed up stairs, tackled treacherous trails, and fended off mountain goats, every step was more breathtaking than the last (literally). It took me two hours to reach Montserrat's highest point. While I was standing on top of the mountain, it was right after five and the sunlight candied the mountains. I was so high that I could see for kilometers. Barcelona was faintly visible off in the distance. The light from the setting sun made some killer photos but it also reminded me that it was getting late. I pulled the train schedule from my pocket and nearly had a heart attack. The last train returning to Barcelona left in an hour. Stressing about missing my only way back, I took a last look, shoved my camera into its house, and bolted down the mountain.

Lots of people were out enjoying nature.

There were transitions between rocks and forest on the trails.

Lush forests.

Great place to meditate.

With my bags jumping all over, I navigated the rocky trails at full speed. Huffing and puffing, I got a burst of energy once I could see the monastery. I zipped past this older dude who was wearing a red coat. Finally I came upon the funicular wich chauffeurs people to the top of the hill. I only had 15 minutes left. Unfortunately, the fanicular was closed so I hurried down a nearby trail. As I was coming down the mountain, I saw the man in the red coat about 5 minutes ahead of me. The white rabbit.

I got so close to one I almost wet my pants.

Pretty high, huh?

I gotta dance on every mountain I climb.

I ot back to the monastery right on time but there was no train in sight. It was getting dark and I had no way of getting home. I missed my tent. Sweaty and red faced I approached the white rabbit to ask for a ride. By the luck of the universe, he was headed to Barcelona and spoke a little English. We hiked down to his car and chatted over the hour long car ride. He had been rock climbing for 35 years of his life. The Scorpions blared over the car's stereo.

Returning to the monastery.

I arrived back in Barcelona safe and exhausted. I cannot recommend Montserrat enough. It was a magical experience and one of the highlights of my trip. Too bad I paid for the two-way train ticket.


**I still have tons of photos to upload and panoramas to add to this entry.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails