For the last post in the Barcelona series, I’d like to take you…outside Barcelona. Just an hour outside. No big thing — we’ll just hop on a train at Placa Espanya and relax as we are shuttled away from the coast and deeper into Catalunya. Here we are: the seat is comfortable, the world outside our window is beginning to look different — we exchange city views for pastoral ones, then move into a more arid zone, with dense shrubbery and reddish soil. Lulled by the scenery, our minds are starting to drift into–
DO Y’ALL KNOW THAT I BROUGHT A CASE OF HERSHEY BARS AND A BOX OF PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS ON THIS TRIP? DANG, I REALLY SHOULD HAVE TAKEN SOME OF THAT WITH ME TODAY.
Oh, sorry. Did I not mention? There are four middle-aged American tourists in the group of seats behind us. And they are obnoxiously loud, with one voice in particular rising above the rest. Now, there exists a stereotype concerning Americans being loud and obnoxious whilst traveling in Europe. I hate to perpetuate stereotypes, so allow me to say that I’m aware that many Americans are not like this when traveling. But I also know that respectful Americans sometimes pretend to be Canadian when traveling in order not to be associated with this type of person. So, let’s all try not to be this person. I’ll admit to you that I’m extra annoyed by her because of my North American love for Hershey’s chocolate, which I haven’t had for a long time because it’s not available in Europe. This woman has brought a case of it to Spain. How long can her trip be?
But I digress. So here we are, getting closer to–
MY DAUGHTER? THAT GIRL IS SO BUSY. SHE’S WRITING SO MANY GRANTS. FIRST I TALKED TO HER AND SHE WAS WRITING ONE GRANT. THEN LATER SHE WAS WRITING ANOTHER GRANT!
Sorry again. I seem to be getting too distracted here. How about we pick this up again when we get off the train, okay?
(Incidentally, this is why I must do all my writing at home, as opposed to in cafes or other kinds of public spaces. Especially now that I am often ensconced in a foreign language, I cannot help but listen when someone is speaking English in public. It’s sort of a curse.)
…YEARS UNTIL RETIREMENT…BUT HIS WIFE SAID…THOSE KIDS JUST LOVE HER…PEANUT BUTTER?… TEACHING THEM LIFE SKILLS…
Ah, so here we are — finally — at the Montserrat station. Montserrat, when translated into English, means “Serrated Mountain.” Here’s the best panorama I could manage, given the hazy day and my limited photography skills:
So, how cool is this? It’s a mountain that is almost as playful and wacky as Gaudi’s architecture. Maybe it lent…or he was inspired by…? I don’t know for sure, but let’s go up the mountain for a better look. Um, this means we have to take a funicular. It’ll take fifteen more minutes. But it’s going to be–
THIS IS PRETTY, Y’ALL!
Yes. That’s what I was getting to. Uh huh, she’s here too. And she’s right. She’s irritating as heck, but she’s also right. As the train climbs the mountain, we can see the plains of Catalunya below (N.B.: I believe these to be the celebrated main-rain-in-Spain-plains). The expanse of green is broken at intervals by cities and the roads running between them. The sight reminds me of a human body, with the cities forming organs and the roads between them arteries and blood vessels…don’t you agree, co-narrator?
THINK THEY’LL HAVE FOOD UP THERE? LIKE A RESTAURANT, OR A CAFETERIA?
Oh, so you won’t cooperate. You won’t even be–
WOULDN’T THE FOOD BE STALE BY THE TIME IT GOT UP THERE? BA HA HA.
Ah, forget it. The ride’s nearly over.
After disembarking at the top, we’re going to notice a few things. Number one: It’s noticeably colder up here than in the city below. Number two: it’s noticeably quieter than in the train (Bonus item three: There is food. A restaurant, and a large cafeteria).
This mountain is probably swarming with tourists in the summer — I base this conjecture on the frequency of the trains, the aforementioned capacious eating facilities, the very large gift shop, and the fact that my guidebook said the Basilica’s Black Virgin (she is black due to centuries of exposure to candle soot, apparently, but for a long time the cause was attributed to simple miraculousness) draws many visitors of faith. But we’re lucky — we’ve come in January, and so we can enjoy the environs in peace and quiet. When we go ON SOME HIKING TRAILS, FOR EXAMPLE, WE WON’T SEE ANYBODY–
Whoa. That was weird. What, is it contagious?
I think this means it’s now my turn to stop talking. Here, enjoy some pictures of Montserrat. Enjoy them, if you can, in perfect, glorious silence — as we did the train ride back to Barcelona.