Unable to bear the thought of leaving without doing everything I wanted, I take the scenic train out past the suburbs to the great hills beyond.
The mountains have all sorts of rock formations sticking out. Following the river, I manage to get off at the wrong train stop as I push the wrong button to open the door. But I get to look out at the town of Montserrat and it’s little hovels dotting the hillside, including a gothic bridge and some chapels. I catch another scenic train ride up the mountain to the monastery at the top.
The old building is iconic, visited by Joan of Arc and many notable figures throughout history. Statues and artwork line the old walls, which have been recently restored. The best part is the breathtaking landscape surrounding the building. Cut into the cliff side, rocks jut out the top like daggers.
I hike up past the funny shaped boulders, entering the surprisingly shaded forest. I see lizards scuttle about and smell the dung of recently re-introduced mountain goats.
Around each pass, the view shifts a bit and I see more and more of the rocks. I find all sorts of shapes and what look to be cartoon-ish faces. What do you see in the mountains?
I finally get close to the top and catch a view of the rocks that I could see coming in on the train. I gasp in awe as I make it to the summit, clouds rolling in and creating a mystical feel with the mist. Then, the sun comes out, and I get a great view into the valley and surrounding rocks, while haze sits on the horizon.
Rushing back down the steps, I follow the path out a different way—much more paved and sunny. I enjoy this view of the serrated rocks as well, some sticking out in all sorts of…shapes. I see where all the artists draw their inspiration from! The other side of the hill has lots of boulders, like scales lining a dragon’s back.
I eventually make my way down to where I started from, passing a reporter who is taking up the best viewpoint. I run down to the cable car, which offers a great view of the hilly valley and river.
I miss the train unfortunately and have to wait an hour for the next one. This delay would cause me to miss my flight (or at least the check in, since I couldn’t do it online for some reason).
But fortunately it isn’t so expensive, and I get to explore Barcelona more!
I spend the next day eating all the churros, croquettes, and other fried goodies I can get while seeking a replacement charger and walking around the Rival district.
I devote the afternoon to the casa Batllo. Now THIS is a great tour. The architect Gaudi had complete freedom with this apartment, drawing inspiration from the ocean and nature. The color pallets derive from the Mediterranean, windows are shaped like gills, and crustacean spirals are featured throughout. There’s even some cathedral glass on the balconies that mimics the hazy clearness of the Mediterranean. And, of course, his mosaic tiles are ever present, on the roof in the shape of a dragon’s back with creative chimneys.
I even go back the next day to take my picture with the facade —are the balconies masks or animals?
I explore the rest of Eixample—admiring the architectural feats and inspiring designs. Everything feels so creative. Walking back in time to the Børn neighborhood, I walk down every medieval street. Though still narrow, these streets seem somehow more welcoming than the neighboring gothic district. I spot all sorts of great art nouveau houses here too. I even find some chocolate covered raspberries —my favorite!
I spend the evening at the beach—exploring the cute neighborhood of Barceloneta and watching the sunset.
A wise man on the subway said to me, “ If you don’t want to spend time, you have to pay money; if you don’t want to pay money, you have to spend time”
So I use the rest of my metro tickets to zip across the city, checking out the last UNESCO heritage sight in Barcelona—the hospital. I enter through the wrong entrance, taking pictures discreetly of the hospital, going around as patients and nurses roam the streets. Then, following other misguided tourists, I leave the campus and find the REAL entrance, and I can’t describe my feelings of excitement. I love seeing all the pavilions up close, and each is dedicated to a different patron Saint. Some even have insignias—an R for Richard for example, named after the sponsor. There are exhibits inside some and the original tiling is still present.
The most impressive building is the administrative headquarters, complete with a large clock tower and a lookout over the gumdrop village. I also got some Indian, wander around the University area a bit passing by the original gothic hospital, and then eat the Indian food at the park Ciutadella as the sun goes down. What a great ending to my time in Barcelona !