Thursday, 22 April 2010

Montserrat Marathon


A 2:30am start to the day was not on the agenda. However, that was the time Jonah chose to wake up and refused to go back to sleep. He was followed shortly by Lara and then Elliot. We acknowledged a lost battle and by 430am the whole family had finished breakfast.

So on to Montserrat we went as planned trying to catch the 736 am train from Placa Espanya. Although the instructions to get there obtained from the DISboards and cruisecritic was nearly 2 pages long and was explicit with details, we still managed to get it wrong. We somehow missed the underground link from the metro at Placa Espanya to the FGC section and so had to figure it out above ground. Travelling with a stroller didn't help. We had planned to get the funicular (rack rail) up as it opened earlier and then catch the aeri (cable car) down if we felt like it at the end of the day. In the chaos and confusion of the moment, we bought the wrong tickets. But we did make the train! The doors closed just as we entered.

As we got to Montserrat-Aeri station, we unfortunately had to wait an hour in the cold for the cable car to open. Malcolm and Elliot set off on a walking track and the rest of us waited it out in front of the station. Thankfully the attendant didn't take too much longer to open it up. We trooped in to escape the chill and treated ourselves to hot drinks from the vending machine. Before long we were up, up and away!

Waiting for the cable car station to open to get to the monastery at the top of the cliff

The end of the cable car ride
The view once we got to the top was spectacular. We certainly didn't regret making an effort to come here early. There were relatively few people about and we were able to go straight to the Basilica and see the Black Madonna without having to line up.
The Basilica

The inside of the Basilica

We spend the rest of the morning exploring, taking the Sant Joan funicular to the very top. Again, I can't believe how steep the rail is! By the time we had lunch, we were exhausted and started to make our way back home.

The Sant Joan funicular

The view from the front

In the cablecar on the way home
On the train, the whole family decided that we'd forgo Poble Espanyol and go shopping instead! So we stopped at Placa Catalunya and shopped from 3pm to 6pm, slowly making our way back to our apartment. We had a brief stop for afternoon tea at the cafeteria atop Cortes Ingles which boasted a lovely view of the city. I was excited to find my Zara store and promptly purchased myself a new top and coat. We had a dinner of tapas at Placa Reial. The Sangria tasted so much better than the ones we've had at home. And I don't what they put it in, but the Spanish version of aioli is amazing. Potato chips have never tasted better!

We asked the children what the highlight of their day was, and we were humbled by their answer. Elliot's was finding a sparrow's nest whilst on the walk with Malcolm and Lara's was simply being allowed to buy a hot chocolate from the vending machine. It just reminded us that often its the simplest thing that children appreciate and that it needn't be expensive.
I go to bed exhausted yet again but very happy and satisfied. I'm looking forward to the sight of the Magic tomorrow as we plan to visit the Harbour front tomorrow, and sincerely hoping that the children will wake up later!

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