spain

Europe: Barcelona pt. 2

We decided to separate the Barcelona blog into two parts, because the second half will be from our trip to the Montserrat monastery. 

I kept on asking Chantelle where she had found out about this place, and she kept on saying "I don't know, Pinterest?" Like a few of the places we had planned to visit, I literally had zero idea what to expect. Here is what I learned about Montserrat from the day that we spent exploring the beautiful mountain monastery. 

I learned that this place is super old. Apparently people have lived on this mountain as monks, or hermits for hundreds of years. Second, I also learned that there was a Spanish king who spent his last days here and died on the mountain. Lastly, there was so much that we didn't have time to see, which is always never fun. 

The day was quite eventful. We were told by Google Maps to take a certain bus to get there. We took it, and were dropped off in the middle of this tiny town and no direction to get up the mountain. It took a couple conversations of broken English to realize that we were right beside a special train station that only went up and down the mountain (the station conveniently hidden across a bridge, behind a bunch of houses on a hill). From the very start, this was a magical place and I can see why people revere these mountains as sacred and spiritual. The world seems to slip away as you climb higher and higher. Once you reach the top, all you can hear is the wind, and see an incredible distance in every direction. There is an old cathedral that anchors the little village in the mountain with beautiful sculptures and treasures. After exploring through the old church we took 1 of 2 trams to the very top of the mountain where multiple old chapels are found scattered throughout the mountain range. There are pathways literally carved into the side of the mountain which we thought were really cool. I also have this weird obsession with stairs that are carved into existing geography, and this place had so many random stairways carved into the mountain, leading who-knows where.

After spending a few days in the busy rush of Barcelona, it was an amazing trip to Monsterrat. We felt like we could have spent days exploring all of the different chapels and walks dedicated to different saints and priests. We will have to go back one day! 

Europe: Barcelona pt. 1

We arrived in Barcelona after a hectic morning of travel in Nice, trying to get to the airport. Long story short, we were under the impression the buses in Nice were on strike and had been recommended to rent bicycles and bike to the airport (8km away). So we set off with all of our bags to rent bikes that are all over the city at these automated stands. Well.... turns out nothing is in English and our French isn't that strong, even waving someone down to help us didn't work so the whole riding bikes to the airport idea was out the window. We then saw buses (not on strike after all) and ran after not one but two buses that weren't even the correct ones. Finally got on a bus dripping in sweat and made it to the airport. We were standing in line to check our bag and we were evacuated by military police due do an unattended bag in the terminal. At first we were frustrated after the morning we just had, all we wanted to do was to get on the plane to Barcelona, then it actually became quite scary because you have no idea what these police men are saying (wasn't paying attention in grade 10 french class) and they are carrying huge guns and yelling in French. Anyways it turned out to be okay and we were able to board our plane to Barcelona with only about an hour or two delay. 

Hello Spain! We found our Airbnb apartment after standing in the wrong building across the street and knocking on the wrong door for quite some time (oops). Our hosts were great, very kind and helpful providing us with a lot of suggestions as to where to eat and what to do in Barcelona. We started off by walking into the Gothic District of Barcelona which was amazing. Narrow alley ways filled with shops, bars, restaurants, and churches were around every corner. We also walked the famous La Ramblas which is a huge pedestrian street lined with the same sort of things as the Gothic District. The next day we woke up with sore feet and were quite tired so we took a beach day! The water was so clear and warm, it was so relaxing! After the beach we took the metro to go and find Sagrada Familia which is a large Roman Catholic Church designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1882 and is still being built to this day! The building was amazing, we actually had to stand across the street to be able to see the whole thing (plus it was like 24 euro per person to go inside and we were definitely not paying that!) After marvelling for awhile we left and ventured our way to Parc Guell which is located on Carmel Hill. Let me emphasize the word HILL... so thankful there were escalators up the middle of the street because there would have been no way I would have made it up all those stairs. We wandered around the park like lost puppies for awhile trying to find the famous area with all the coloured tiles. Eventually we asked someone for directions and made it to the entrance area. The park limits the number of visitors and requires you to pay an entrance fee, we were kind of bummed considering it was getting late (about 8pm). They told us that they were actually sold out of tickets and that we had to wait until 9:30pm when the park was open to the public (and free!). We contemplated waiting the hour and half because it was getting dark, but heck we were already there so we decided to wait. Once "inside" (it's a park, it's outside) we were glad that we didn't pay to get in. Yes it was beautiful and had a lovely view of the city but come on it's a park! Anyways, we'd highly suggest it (book in advance if you want a prime time and if you don't mind paying) and it was worth the adventure of getting there and waiting until 9:30pm. 

Up next on the blog, part 2 of Barcelona with our trip to Montserrat Monastery.