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Posts Tagged ‘Montserrat’

Up and up

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Considering the ear-popping height of the monastery at Monestir de Montserrat perched in the Montserrat mountain range, one might not think there’d be any reason to travel higher. And certainly, at 725 metres, why would anyone?

We’d be wrong, my friends, because the human spirit simply has to strive altius, fortius, citius — oh wait, wrong event. You’ll take my point, however.

These limestone pillars were whipped into shape by millennia of wind and rain and call to those looking for a greater — and in this case, spiritual — challenge.

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Taking that little funiculaire (top photo) to the top was a 20-minute journey with a distinct temperature change at the top.

This little sign let informed us there was more to see so we followed the stony path upwards.

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We walked up to this little stone structure, the Saint Joan Chapel, which was built adjacent to a series of caves where a hermit lived in seclusion after wandering for 70 years on a spiritual quest.

My information is thin here as was my success at reading the Spanish information posts.

The caves skittered along the side of the mountain — and I write ‘side’ very literally — and while one was able to walk kilometres along the steep and narrow path littered with loose rocks, the physical challenge of doing so caused my travel companion to remark with some concern (remembering his, ahem, Human Resources Professional designation) that the absence of any sort of railing or guard to prevent from from falling straight to a colourful death (I believe his exact words were, “Are they kidding?!”) make this hike somewhat more risky than one taken in our home and native land.

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Pretty, si?

But did you think the climb ended here? Not so, amigos. The human spirit must always aim higher.

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So we tackled this little puppy. Not straight on, mind you, as did a gaggle of climbers with harnesses, ropes, climbing shoes and helmets.

No, we opted for a decidedly more adventurous way, on a little goat path studded with loose sand, loose pebbles, loose rocks, fairly loose boulders and a briefly helpful four metre length of rope.

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When leaving the Barcelona train station early in the morning, the agent was very careful to remind us that we should not miss the 4.15 p.m. train down the mountain…. for then we would miss the last possible option to return to the city….

The reality of that possibility struck our little brains up high on that pile of limestone and we hastened to the funiculaire, cleverly, or perhaps not so, stationing ourselves in the first of three cars.

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Precipitous comes to mind.

Human ingenuity is another.

On our wee island back in Canada our house sits at the top of its own rocky outcrop, our driveway a 500-metre quest to the 475 m height of our kitchen window. My father always wonders aloud on his visits, “What would ever possess someone to build a place up so high?”

Closer to heaven. What else could it be?

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