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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spain -- Barcelona 8.9 - 8.10.09

Sunday 8.9.09 -- Montserrat
The sound of a text message woke me up. I had a bad feeling.  I jumped out of the bed, looked at the cell phone. 8:29 AM. "Sh*t! We were late!"  

For the past couple of days, I was the one setting up the alarm to wake D and E up.  Last night, E came home at 2 AM from her sister's hotel.  Half asleep, I moved the alarm half an hour earlier and went back to bed.  Turned out, I did not set up the alarm on my cell phone properly.  We were supposed to get up at 6 AM and take the 8:36 AM train to Montserrat. 
I yelled, "Girls, wake up! We are late. We have 30 minutes to get ready. Hurry up!"  Truth to be told, I did not think we would even be able to catch the 9:36 AM train.  Three girls sharing one bathroom, one hair dryer, one mirror, and trying to be ready in 30 minutes?   I did not think so.  But I have to aim for the best and prepare for the worst. 

I worked D and E like a Drill Sargent. "15 minutes left, girls!"  "5 minutes left, you need to hurry up!"............. I was in the kitchen preparing the sandwiches for lunch since I got ready faster than D and E, giving them the minute count, and thinking to myself, "Holy cow, I look like a mother preparing lunch for her kids and rushing them out to catch the school bus!" 

45 minutes later, we were on the street hailing a cab to the Estanya rail station.  

9:30 AM, we were inside of the station.  D and I bought our Trans Montserrat tickets via cable car version at the tourist information booth in the airport when we first arrived.  E quickly purchased her ticket at the ticket booth in the station. 
9:33 AM, we made the impossible!  Hats off to D and E for their total cooperation.  We were sitting on the train, looking cute as ever.  Montserrat, here we come, finally! 

We have been meaning to visit Montserrat much sooner.  However, with so much happening in the past few days, we had to keep postponing the trip till the last day, unfortunately, the most crowded day of the week, Sunday.  A little over an hour later, we had arrived in Montserrat.  The cable car up to the mountain provided  an amazing view of the landscape.  The monastery was surrounded by majestic figure like sandstone mess.  The church bells were ringing and echoing that created a mystical aura.  Unfortunately, the boys choirs were on holidays during the time we visited, so we decided to to take the funicular car up to the Sant Jeroni Path first.

Having been in the city for the past four days, it was a breath of fresh air and welcomed change of pace to hike on the mountain.  The hike was pretty mild and easy.  We were fascinated by all the surrounding  gigantic stones.  We looked for the hidden faces and figures.  There were so many! This smiley face was our favorite.  We even gave it a name (which I forgot already..)  

It felt like these stones had thousand-year old souls. They created an indescribable energy in the air.  We rested on top of the mountain with a 360 degree view.  After awhile, We began hearing thunders, one louder than another.  The clouds slowly gathered.  We were not ready to leave yet.  Then,  lightning pierced through the dark cloud.  Eventually, we felt rain drops.  We knew it was time to go.  We walked back to take the Funicular car down to  the monastery.  

By the time we got down to the monastery, it was raining cats and dogs. The trans Montserrat ticket included a short film about the monastery.  After the short film, the rain stopped.  We walked to the Basilica.  On the way there, we got distracted by the local food vendors selling all kinds of cheese and honey.  All of them were eager to offer you some generous samples.  Before we knew it, we were sampling all kinds of cheese and walked way passed the Basilica.  

Once we were back to the Basilica, there was a huge line of people waiting to see the black virgin.  Oh well, it was a Sunday.  We waited in line immediately, and took turns to visit the inside of the Basilica.  It took us almost an hour and a half to finally see the black virgin.  I was focused on taking pictures of the black virgin that I did not even take a good look at her.  Walking out of the Basilica, I was like, "Wait a second. Why did I just spend 90 minutes waiting in line to see the black virgin?? I am not even catholic."

We went back to the vendors to buy some cheese and honey.  It started pouring again.  We ran into the cafeteria, got some coffee and shared the cheese cake we just bought from the vendors.  I am not sure if there is a name for the cake, but it was so creamy, moist, and super tasty.   

The weather was really miserable.  The sky was dark, the rain poured like a waterfall, and lightning and thunder kept on going. It was definitely the weather we did not experience in Barcelona.  We were finally not hot and sweaty for a change.  We were cold and wet.  I was glad that we went up to the mountain first.  I would hate to miss the hike, the view, and the sandstones.  We decided to head back to the city and ran to the cable car station in the pouring rain.  Once we got there, it was another long line for about a 45 minute wait.  

We got back to the city around 7:30 PM.  It was still early!  It was our last night in the city.  We decided to have a nice dinner before D flew to Rome to meet up with her husband, and E and I flew to Madrid.  I went home first as D and E went to the internet cafe to check on their emails.  After I was showered and dressed, D and E were still not home.  Huh.. this is taking a lot longer than I expected.  I started packing  while I waited.  Finally around 9:30 PM, D and E came home.  "This is ridiculous! It's getting so late. Let's go, before we would miss the dinner again!" D stormed into the apartment rather annoyed.  "Are we going to take a shower and change first?" E asked.  "We don't have time! Let's just go.  We still have to come home to pack after dinner."  D said.  I asked D and E what took them so long at the internet cafe.  Turned out, it was the mysterious phone situation with E trying to call her sister and not having any success in the phone center.  D lost it in the phone center and made a scene.  People working in the center tried to help to no avail.  Finally D and E had to give up calling E's sister and came home.  (I was secretly relieved that I was not there.  Two Leos going crazy at the same time is not something anyone wants to witness.)  

Just before we were about to leave, D came to a realization.  "Why do I even bother to bring a bag with me? I have been running around pretending I have something worth stealing on me. You know what, I am just gonna go."  I could not stop laughing.   It was true.  D had nothing valuable on her anymore.  No camera, no cellphone, no credit card, no money.  E had lent D some cash, and I helped D with credit card purchases.  We were all a bit paranoid with our belongings walking on the streets and taking the metro since the robbery incident.  So was D, protecting her bag with nothing in it.  

E still needed to meet up with her sister for the Madrid hotel arrangement before our flight tomorrow morning.  As we stepped out of the apartment, E's sister called.  I gave E my cell phone and parted ways.   D and I headed to La Paradeta for seafood.  Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday. UGH... it's like there is this dark force preventing us from enjoying the food in Barcelona.  So many good restaurants I wanted to go were closed in August.  We were always rushing to eat and had to eat out of convenience most of the time.  The one day we had a decent dinner, D got robbed. What the heck??

So, with no specific place in mind, we checked out a few restaurants on Passeig del Born and settled on the restaurant, La Tavern del Born.  We ordered Spanish wine for a change, a few tapas and tried trips (it's probably pork trips, I prefer beef trips much better).  With food in our stomachs and alcohol in our blood, we were semi-relaxed despite the fact that the restaurant was rather loud and smoky.  We left the restaurant a little past midnight and went home packing. 

E came home around 2 AM.  As if we did not spend enough time together the past couple of days, We kept on talking until we all lost our voices.  I was the first one going to bed around 3AM, and E stayed up the whole night.

This trip had been hectic, stressful and full of drama.  We did not even have time to do any shopping!  However,  the opportunity for three married women in their 30's having a girlfriend getaway in Barcelona was hard to come by.  We really enjoyed one another's company and this unique and crazy experience.

Monday 8.10.09 -- Adios, Barcelona
Last shot of the group in the apartment before we left to the airport. 8.10.09 6:30 AM.


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