Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A 3 Part Train Ride to Montserrat

Day 2 Barcelona. Today was the day for Montserrat, the site of an old Benidictine monestary set high on a mountain which after many trials and tribulations was finally destroyed by Napolean in 1812. The church was rebuilt in the 1900's, complete with a series of death-defying trains and funicular.... things. I'm not really sure WHAT a funicular is, I think it is generally a basket or box that hangs from a cable that is then "reeled in" to it's final destination.
Anyways, to get there you have to take a normal train from Barcelona to Montserrat, then take a cog train (a train that has a mechanical cog attached to a track (sort of like the wheels in a clock) that prevents it from falling backwards down the mountain) to the site of the monestary and very peculiar museum.
Inside the new Monastery

The main attraction at the monestary is the "Black Virgin", a very old statue of the Virgin and bebe Jesus, the skin of which has turned black over centuries of smoke from the candles and incense used in ceremonies. The statue was found in a cave near the mountain, which is apparently a fairly common occurance in Spain. In fact, so many Virgins have been found in the country that there is a national holiday devoted solely to "Found Virgins". I think people should keep better track of their virgins so they don't go off getting lost all the time. The Black Virgin is in the back of the altar, and there was a crazy long line to go see her, so we skipped it and went to the museum.

Ah the museum, the most random collection of things to exist in one place at one time in a place that call itself a museum. There were many paintings by some less famous Spanish artists and many of the subjects of the paintings were of Barcelona or Montserrat itself. There were also a spattering of lesser pieces by Miro and Dali, as well a whole collection of posters by Picasso. And then, who could forget, the Egyptian section, complete with mummy, it's casket thing, and embalming jars. What, exactly, all these egyptian things were doing atop a mountain in a Benedictine monestary in Spain is beyond me. We pondered this relationship for a while, and then took our final train up the mountain to the very very top. This train, or cable car I guess, literally LITERALLY went STRAIGHT. UP. the mountain. The car was stepped against the angle of the tracks so you couldn't feel just how steep it was, but... it was steep. Way steep.
That track is at like, 150 degrees up the mountain.

The views were fantastic, even though it was a little cloudy and misty. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Mediterranean Sea on one side and all the way to the Pyrenees Mountains on the other. We couldn't see quite that far, but my mom thinks we should tell everyone we could anyways. I don't know why she feels that way. But, now you know when she tells you that she saw the Mediterranean Sea from the top of Montserrat, it's not really true.

On the ride back, Steve, who had been causing problems for us all day with his "I know everything" attitude (which already resulted with us getting off at the wrong train stop and having to wait forever for another train, and would later result in me having to wait over an hour for my dinner), had "found out" what time the train was leaving, and chose to go to the bathroom. Well, the train came early, so we got on it. And then it left. While Foxy was standing with his dick in his hands in the bathroom. Well, he was in for a great surprise when he came back outside an no one, not even the ticket attendant was there. We finally called him after we figured out what the Spanish country code is, and my mom found his number, and he was still standing dumfounded at the previous station. Luckily another train was coming in 20 minutes, so he didn't have to wait long, and then many laughs were had. But, let this be a lesson to you all! When you try to control your travel companions, you will be undermined and left standing in an empty train station an hour from Barcelona!

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