Barcelona – Montserrat and La Rambla/Gothic Quarter

Continuing the Paris/Barcelona Trip Report, if you missed it you can read from the start here: Paris and Barcelona Part 1. To read from the start of the Barcelona segment, see my posts on Air France and Atenea Aparthotel and Castle Montjuic and the Magic Fountains.

For our first full day in Spain we decided to head out on a day trip to Montserrat, a Benedictine monastery in the mountains. The trip by train from Barcelona took about an hour. We purchased the TransMontserrat ticket for 26,60€ which included the train, a cable car ride, funicular rides and admission to the audiovisual gallery of the monastery. There was also a TotMontserrat option which included lunch and the museum but we decided against it. When we woke up the morning of the trip and looked at the forecast it said rain the entire weekend. Since it wasn’t pouring we decided to go on Saturday in case Sunday was worse! We arrived at Montserrat in a very cold rain and already sick, which was not overly pleasant. The views were entirely worth it though. With the rain and clouds, there was incredible fog in the mountains. It was almost magical.

There are two options to get up to Montserrat. One is a cable car ride, the other – for the less adventurous, is a train. My friend and I chose the cable car and it was awesome!

Cable Car up to Montserrat

Cable Car up to Montserrat

After the cable car ride, you’re dropped off at the basilica. This is where the black virgin is located. This is also where tons of people are waiting to see it. My friend and I explored a little, but I was much more interested in the mountain scenery. So we headed up the funicular to get higher up for a better view.

Inside the Basillica

Inside the Basilica

The funicular ride was neat. The track almost went straight up the mountain. When we arrived at the top there weren’t very many people around – probably because it was cold, rainy and windy and not many people are that dumb. Hiking around a mountain top in those conditions is not really ideal even if the trails are good. But…it was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I took it. My friend walked around a little with me, but wasn’t feeling well so she waited inside while I walked further up. The views were breathtaking. I think I stopped every ten feet to take it in. For a while there was no one in sight and only the sound of rain and birds. My feet got soaking wet, I was freezing and sniffly already from the cold and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

View from the top

View from the top

The picture doesn’t even do it justice. I was constantly trying to wipe rain off the camera lens. I briefly thought that maybe wandering around the top of a mountain in Spain in the wind and rain alone was probably not my best idea. But it was entirely worth the risk. I took a picture at the riskiest point, where I had to walk on the edge because of a giant puddle. I figured that way if I fell maybe they’d find the camera and see what happened, haha.

Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge

My friend said I scared her with what I was willing to do for good pictures, but I’m still alive! Here’s a shot of the view down from the cable car ride back to the train station.

View down below the cable car

View down below the cable car

Montserrat was amazing and I highly highly recommend it for anyone who appreciates breathtaking scenery. It would have taken our entire day walking around the top if it was not rainy and cold out. But even in the cold rain it was worth it. Our biggest problem was with being sick though. The cable car ride change in altitude really messed with our ears and really hurt on the way down, which left me terrified of the flight the next day.

After heading back to the hotel and changing our wet clothes, we went back out to check out La Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter. We knew that the TransMontserrat ticket included two free metro rides, so we used that to get back on the metro and it worked. We actually used it three or four times. Not sure why, but it worked so we went with it. It saved us from buying another T-10 (read more about the T-10 pass here) overall.

At the Drassanes metro stop there is a neat artisan street market. I had read a lot of complaints that La Rambla was really touristy, and I agree some of it was. But we really liked the vendors set up near the metro. My friend bought candle holders, figurines and other decorative items there. We walked around that area and the Gothic Quarter for a little while and bought a ton of touristy souvenir items there. The Gothic Quarter was really neat, and I’d love to spend more time there if I wind up back in Barcelona one day. But for a two and a half day visit we only had a little time there before heading back to the hotel before dinner.

We were craving seafood and asked at the hotel if they could recommend anything and they said we really needed to go to the waterfront for that. So we ate near the hotel, and it was nothing special. But we decided we would go for seafood the following night.
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About Rebecca

I'm an engineer who is new to the points game. Hoping to share my discoveries as I collect points to travel the world.

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