Barcelona--Visiting the nearby towns
Here, there, and everywhere
Although there is much to see and do in the City of Barcelona, there is also a wealth of Spanish history and culture just a train ride away!
We took the train to this beautiful seaside town where our friends Jim and Robin were staying. They met us right away and led us on a delightful tour of their favorite Spanish village. We toured the old town, the cemetery and their favorite haunts. On our first stop of the day we ran into a teenage sailing school--later we saw them sailing in the bay. Then we had a delicious lunch on a beautiful patio terrace at Restaurante Casa Hidalgo. Finally, after a little more touring, we finished the day with more wine on a rooftop terrace. It was a great day with new friends, whom we hope to meet again, in Chicago or on the road.
Just a short journey from Barcelona, one of the first cities founded on the Spanish peninsula by the Romans, Tarragona offers an abundance of history. Part of the city wall and the last amphitheater built by the Romans is still preserved, as are many other buildings built in the first century AD. Of course, there is a wonderful cathedral with a rose window, from the medieval town. They have also opened a park that is walk around part of the walled city that remained.
Then, there is the aqueduct. Paul and I had planned to walk there after lunch, as he said it was a short distance. Not understanding that the circle around 5.6 kilometers on the map meant that once we reached that circle, there was that much further to go--on a highway, no sidewalk. Now, Paul and I can easily walk 3 miles, but it would have been 4.5 miles back to the train. Luckily, we have a phone now, with a Spanish chip, so we called a taxi to take us. Still intact, it is a graceful reminder of the engineering and skill of the Romans. It was worth the journey to see this construction in the wild environs, standing solid and solemn. When we boarded the train at the end of the day, we were very pleased with our adventures.
Montserrat--A religious retreat
Our final day trip to Montserrat proved to be another delight. The train up the mountain provided beautiful scenery as we went up through the clouds to the Monastery. It was hard to imagine how the sight for this monastery had been selected, on the top of the mountain, far from the cities.
From the train, we took the cable car up to the town around the monastery. Built in the eleventh century, it was rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries and houses the Black Virgin. Newlyweds come here to receive a blessing from the Virgin. A famous boys' choir sings every day at 1:00 p.m.
We decided to tour the museum(free on that day!), which unexpectedly houses a good collection of expressionist art. Following the visit to the museum, we faced the crowds in the cathedral to hear the choir. When we left the cathedral, there was a band playing and people started to dance a national dance of Catalonia. It was entertaining to watch while we waited on line to visit the La Madona Negra (Black Virgin).
Following our tour, we took the funicular to the train back to Barcelona. We were starving when we arrived and sussed out a restaurant recommended by the now famous Jim and Robin, Los Caracoles, "The Snails." I ate a giant plate of the best snails ever and did not share with Paul, since he doesn't like snails.
Next up, adventures in food and wine. Buen provecho!