Monday, 1 September 2014

Day 119: El Nasrau to Montserrat - Mon 1 Sept

Day 119: El Nasrau to Montserrat - Mon 1 Sept
We’re happy to follow Garmin through criss-cross of highways out of city. Headed towards pinnacles of Montserrat (“serrated mountain”) initially under dirty grey pollution cloud, fortunately mostly cleared by time we parked across from cable-car station. Driver advised us to cross bridge (irregardless of 3-ton limit!) and park next to station itself where staff could watch vehicles, as we were highly likely to be broken into if we left them unattended by side of main road all day. Hanging inside the station was a photo of the bridge destroyed in civil war - not designed to reinforce confidence!! 

Keeping an eye on vehicles until last minute....

Took bright yellow cable-car to Santa Maria de Montserrat Benedictine abbey, walked grounds, mountain's globular fingers looming overhead, statue Abat Oliba, founder, and one of new school of clean-angle sculptors where eyes followed you no matter your direction…. 

Rode funicular to Sant Joan lookouts and walks, back down in time for quick lunch, and head in early to basilica for seat in time for angelic boys’ choir (Cor de l'Escolania - oldest choir school in Europe). Queue over an hour long to file past and touch black Virgin of Montserrat statue (so we gave it a miss...)

Took funicular down to walk steep 1.6km trail of 15 Mysteries/ 3 decades of Rosary, statues and icons by famous sculptors and artists of Catalan Art Nouveau movement including Gaudi. Trail ends at Santa Cova Chapel (story goes original image of virgin, made of wood, was found in mountains and people tried to retrieve it but it was too heavy so they built a chapel in situ (since then it's been relocated to Basilica, and replica is now in Chapel). 


Santa Cova Chapel

Ebony Virgin

Enjoyed tremendously the magnificent art gallery of old masters - El Greco, Carravaggio, Degas, Monet, Picasso, religious themes, archeology and portraiture, icons (including iconography of Our Lady of Montserrat), plus more modern section (Dali personal favourite!) GirlRob was struck by Carravagio’s “St Jerome in meditation”, reminding her of her father.

Dad in the riverbed, by Tricia Reust (GirlRob's sister)

By time we called it a day and took cable-car back down it was too late to get on road for Valencia. Staff gave us permission to camp overnight in car park (rack railway next door ceased about 7.00pm) Three teenage boys on bikes came to say hello and have a cold drink with us. Mountain pinnacles were spectacular up close, also made a wonderful backdrop for dinner, blogging, photos, route planning. Hopefully we will get a view of sunrise on the face before we head off in the morning. 


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