27. Oct, 2021

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TUESDAY 26-10-21

My word we were up in good time this morning. I'd even set the alarm clock which enabled us to leave the campsite at Benicassim at just after nine o'clock. We had a journey north which was going to take us about three hours, and we wanted to ensure there was time at the other end for our visit to Montserrat Monastery which we were to reach by cable car.

Just before Barcelona we turned left and headed inland a little, arriving in a car park close to the cable car station. The narrow bridge across the river to the car park for the cable car banned motorhomes as well as buses etc, and little wonder, so we didn't have much choice as to where we parked.

While The Chef prepared lunch I walked over the bridge armed with my wallet and reading glasses to see what the score was regarding tickets. It was straightforward enough, and two return tickets cost twenty-three Euros. Right next door is a railway station which allows visitors from Barcelona etc to catch a train to the cable car station then hop on the cable car, or to stay on the train because amazingly the train goes right up to the monastery.

There were only five of us on our trip up to the top though the Chef noticed a sign which said it held thirty-five which would certainly have been a squeeze.

So a bit about the Monastery:

Montserrat is home to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat, and the nearly thousand-year-old Benedictine monastery that has been at the service of pilgrims and visitors who come to this unique mountain. The community consists currently of around 60 monks that follow the Rule of Saint Benedict (6th century). They are devoted mainly to enriching their religious experience, to their daily work and to welcoming pilgrims. The monastery is a place of encounter, prayer, dialogue and culture. Montserrat boasts one of the oldest boys' choirs in Europe.

It's quite an impressive complex up there and it even has a coach park for visitors, though I wouldn't want to drive one up there, and I certainly didn't consider taking the motorhome because we'd probably have struggled to get up there only to find a sign banning us.

The main attraction must be the Basilica, and we joined a queue to get a ticket with a time on it for our visit, but unfortunately just after we joined the back of the queue the lady issuing the tickets must have realised it was her siesta time and simply let the whole queue through while she walked off. This meant that we were in a very slow moving line around the edge of the building and couldn't understand why it was so slow moving. Eventually having climbed up two or three floors we came across the statue of the Madonna, which, never mind the rules, everybody wanted to be photographed with and touch, and nobody else had space to get around them. Once we were through that pinch point we were away, and able to walk round to the front of the building and walk in through the front doors and down the aisle.

While we were in there some lovely singing started and I thought it was a recording of a choir boy but The Chef told me later outside that it was one of the female visitors and pointed her out.

I have to say that the complex up there is well geared up to part visitors from their money including large bars of chocolate for ten pounds a bar and coffee and gifts shops galore, none of them cheap.

Once we'd seen all we wanted we made our back down and are now relaxing in the motorhome in the hope that nobody will move us on as it is a very convenient place to spend the night.

Tomorrow we begin the journey northwest heading towards Castro Urdiales which is not far from Santander.

I have started a new chapter today because I'm aware some of them are too big. The one 'To Carmona' will have to be split in two after we get home. It will be a bit time consuming but needs to be done as it takes too long to wade through all the pictures and text to reach the beginning. I think in future I'm going to have to reduce the number of photographs I upload each day.