ITALY AND SPAIN 2010

 

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

Trip Log 21.  Day 21. Montserrat

Tuesday November 2, 2010. Rocky Mountain High

Before we leave, Sharon and I take a picture each of the other one through the window of Ramon's computer room. We are standing on the stairs, leading from Ramon and Emma's floor (first European, second American) up to our floor, one level up. I think this used to divide indoors from outdoors before they expanded by putting the two extra stories on top of the ground level story.

Breakfast is over, and we're in the car, headed for Montserrat. It's about 11 am, and Sharon says the legend is that tiny angels used golden saws to make the sawtooth mountains that are Montserrat. Serrated mountain.

We pass through the city of Bruc. When Napolean invaded Spain, he surrounded the Spanish army. With the soldiers in the mountains, it was echo country. A small boy played so loud and so fast on his drum, and the echos were so strong that Napoleon withdrew because he thought he was hearing thousands of soldiers , and that's the story of El Bruc.

We arrive at Montserrat, looking for parking. We are at the bus lot, still looking. I see a bus from the compay of Julia. Sounds like a good name for a movie: A Bus Called Julia.

I pack up all my gear, and Ramon lets us out, then parks way the heck off, down the mountain road somewhere, behind all the other cars parked there, and walks back up. It must have been a long way off.

I suddenly notice that I don't have my binocs, and I remember putting them on the floor between my feet near the end of our trip. Ramon volunteers to go back for them, and I accept his offer. I'd probably get down there and not find the car. I celebrate not having to fix my own mistake by shooting lots of pictures, as does Ramon when he returns. Thanks Ramon.


It turned into a gorgeous day.


(L and R) Helicopters are the workhorse of the mountains


(L) The funicular. (R) Who's that in the dark?


(L) Here's the proof that we were there. (R) Sharon, reaching into what she's hoping is an ATM cash machine.


(L and R) Two vastly different pieces of sculpture. I love the face on the knight on the right.


(L) Looking up. (R) The train is one of three ways you can get here.


(L) Sharon ain't afraida no height. (R) Ramon did this self-timer photo of the four of us in the shade.


(L) The church. (R) Loved this series of arches.


(L) Please let me take off this riiculous skirt. (R) Ramon will do anything for the right angle.


(L) Apartments occupied by the monks, I think. (R) The twelve disciples, each with his own pedestal.

The monastery is also undergoing renovations, and one building is encapsulated under a photo of a huge organ. Ramon says he has heard that it might be the biggest in the world. Hmmm. May be.

Sharon has been seeing a new bird, and after scouring her bird book and showing me, we think it's a Rock Sparrow. Nice little bird.

Ramon and Emma have timed our visit so that we can see the young boys singing during the one o'clock service. Actually they thought it was a noon service and we were going to miss it, but then they find out that it's at one pm. So we're all right, and we begin heading that way.

It's a gentle ceremony, is the boys singing. Afterwards, we go poking around, and Sharon finds this giant candle, then a battery of colored light candles.


(L) Intricate carvings. (R) Inside the church, for the boys' singing. {There is a school here for boys which is called the "choir school." They must have full classes but they also learn singing. Their voices are so pure and clear.}


(L) The boys choir, including four in the center, at top. (R) Beautiful stained glass work. {This church also holds the "black madonna" statue. Legend has it that it was carved by St. Luke, brought to Spain by St.Peter and then hidden durng the time the Moors occupied Spain. It was subsequently found in a cave by some boys and brought to this church. Pilgrims come from all over to pray to the Madonna.}

(Not the black madonna)


(L) Sharon's big on this candle. (R) Very colorful candle lights, as Ramon and Emma pass at left.

I try to practice what little Spanish I know. Somebody asks where my camera is (or something similar) and I say, "Aqui! Aqui!" Only I pronounce it "Ah-kwee, Ah-kwee." This gets a good chuckle from everybody, then I have to explain, "There is a married couple on our street who are our good friends, and her name is "Kwee." So then everybody relaxes, realizing that one simple error like that doesn't necessarily mean I'm not fluid in Spanish. Or even English. I try to hide my incompetence in a double negative.

We take some great photos at this wonderful place, which one might also call Shangri-La or Heaven's Gate or Mountain Retreat, but is the same Montserrat that several of our friends in the San Francisco Bay Area have visited before us. I like to imagine them here.


Wave to the camera


Nice day.


We need to break for lunch. Emma saves our table as Ramon takes this shot, all while Bob and Sharon are in the long hot line at the cafeteria. {Which turned out to serve us cold food! What's up with that? We could have gone to the shorter line which had sandwiches and such. Oh, well, live and learn.}


(L) The snakey shuttle.


(L and R) Emma has purchased something in a flat box, with handle. This turns out to be something like a big flat doughnut, or flattened loaf of bread, only instead of bread, it's doughnut. See? {A traditional Catalon "cake" She also bought one for her cousin who was sick.}


Elegant arches and columns dress up the atmosphere, which actually didn't need any dressing up.


About 3000 feet below. I made that up. It's WAY down there.


A couple of cool white carvings bid us good day.

Finally it's time to go, and Ramon delivers us into the city, where he drops Emma off at her cousin's, who is having a rough time in her life right now.


(L and R) Sunset at the beach.

Then Ramon takes us to the beach, where we've said we wanted to go many times. Well, here we are. And right away, I see ... WAIT. WHAT? ... a naked man walking the beach.

I demand equal rights for women. Then Ramon says they already have 'em, as he points out three girls frolicking in the surf far up the beach. Well, just so they're equal. And what'd I do with my binoculars? Oh there they are, around my neck.

As the sky darkens and the lights come on, there are wonderful scenes here. Ramon positions us for the record.

I stop in an elegant underground restaurant to use the rest room, and Sharon convinces me that I have inadvertently used the ladies room rather than the men's. I disagree, "Maybe it was adverdent."


(L) I love this sail-shaped hotel, right on the beach.

Ramon gets the car and picks us up.


The tourist bus, like the Hop On Hop Off bus of Rome.

Ramon heads into the major roundabout, but BAM, all traffic comes to a complete stop. After several minutes, he takes the bull by the tail and faces the situation. He worms his way out to the right, and bypasses the results of the traffic accident we hear about the next day.

Hey, it's great to have a guide who knows his way around.

So it's home, pack up our gear for our two day birding adventure, and off to sleep.

But first I have a story to pass on, reminded to me by Kerry Kohring, another Missouri University friend of mine and also of Rrrrrramon's. He said he found Ramon, outside one of our favorite drinking spots, and he had a little too much to drink. He and another friend, Clarke Garry, loaded him into the little luggage space of Clarke's sports car and brought hiim back to the dorm. Ramon kept saying, "My weaks are very leg."

And with that I'll say good night, on the eve of our two-day guided birding trip

Viva Pajaro!!!

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