Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm Lost in the Prado!

Ah! Sunday in Madrid! David and I awoke in our rather posh hotel, cozy in our bed with a fluffy down comforter and crisp white sheets, king size pillows to match the king size bed. Apparently, the Melia Castilla has quite the conference center, and has an auditorium that can seat a million people. Of course, I am kidding. I honestly don't remember how many, but I remember being impressed and wondering where they would put them all. It was also fun to stay someplace that provided a bevy of toiletries: a dental kit complete with toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste, a razor, of course a shower cap, a comb! I was running a little low on shampoo at this point so all these items were tucked into my luggage for use at the apartment. Yay!

I also spied this interesting ad (?) in our room. Roughly translated it means something like, "anyone tell you like watching television". That's how google translate does it anyway. This baffles me. Is this an ad for a movie or something that Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton were in? Or just another example of how American movie stars do lots of ads in Europe and Japan? Why does Harrison Ford look so annoyed? And Diane Keaton...perky as always. What is going on here?

David and I were hungry and decided we should wander about the neighborhood and find some food. But first, I had some ironing to do. No, I don't think you really are interested in the minutiae of my day, but I do want to introduce you to the most annoying iron and board combo I've ever met. The iron was actually attached to the board - which makes sense in a deterring iron thieves. However, it makes setting up the iron incredibly difficult. You've got this heavy thing with a pointy end dangling and swinging around, whacking you in the thigh as you attempt to get the legs of the board fully extended. Ugh,

Ironing out of the way, it was time to find a little breakfast. The breakfast buffet at the hotel was one of those 20 euro or something crazy deals and we had declined the upgrade for the room to include the buffet. We weren't really sure where Lea and Amit were, so we headed out. It was a cool morning in Madrid, and David and I decided we would only head one block in each direction from the hotel and if we didn't see someplace nearby to get coffee and pasties, we would just go to the little cafe in the hotel lobby.

We didn't find anything. Our hotel, however, was surrounded by foreign embassies, which was kind of neat. I definitely saw some people in the lobby that looked as though they were foreign dignitaries. That and a lot of flight crew looking folks. We went to the little cafe and I did my "dos cafe con leches and dos....(point at a croissant)" and then we enjoyed our little morning snack. Lea and Amit joined us shortly thereafter. They had been a bit more adventurous and did find someplace nearby to get a more substantial breakfast. Jealous.

We had some time to kill before we had to meet the others so we chatted in the lobby and did some Madrid research on the internet. I think we were able to drop our stuff off at the apartment around noon or something. Kym and Kyle were going to head to the Prado first thing in the morning. I'm not sure what Alan, Erin, and Kelly were going to do. But, we all planned to meet at the apartment where we could drop our stuff before officially checking in later in the afternoon.

We all made it there safe and sound! It was great to see everyone. We had missed them.

I was in a pretty good mood. Our new apartment was just across the street from a Metro station and El Cortes Ingles which you may recall is a huge department store that also has a grocery store. There was also a little cafe/bar right next door.

All in all, it was a great location. We had a little balcony, plenty of beds for everyone, two bathrooms. And, it was an easy 15 minute Metro ride to the heart of Madrid. Perfect. Did I mention it was also dirt cheap? Yup. Look at Kym and Erin looking all cute in their boots.

We had to wait just a few minutes to be let in the building and then we pretty much had to drop our stuff and leave. Not a problem at all because we had a lot we wanted to see!

Madrid has an awesome subway system...the Metro. It is incredibly easy to navigate. Even though we were not staying close to the things we wanted to see, it never felt like we were far. Our first stop for the day was to be el Rastro, essentially this huge flea market that is held every Sunday. See some pictures here. This is another one of those places where you are advised to keep a close eye on your wallet as it is quite crowded. Was it ever! When we got closer to the park, the entire area was packed. We were all pretty hungry and decided to get lunch first. Finding a place where all nine of us could eat was a bit if a challenge. I'll admit - I doubted it could be done. But, we did happen upon a place that if we sat inside could accommodate all of us together.

It had this sort of weird blue and gold interior, with wrought iron chairs, sort of like it was trying to be some kind of French Victorian theme or something. But, the food was very good. David and I ordered way too much of it.

I started with the cold tomato soup - it wasn't really gazpacho, I think it was missing some key ingredients, but it had some ham and olive oil drizzled on top and was really amazing.

We also ordered this bread with tomato which was simply delicious. We didn't realize we'd get so much of it.

Nor did we think we'd get so much Spanish omelet...but it was delicious as well. One of my favorites while we were in Spain.


And I think this is actually what Alan had. I don't remember what it was called, but it was potato, egg, and  tomatoes maybe? Oh looked so good. I loved what I had, but I also wished I had eaten this.

After lunch was over, we headed back towards Parque del Rastra, but many of the booths were being shut down. I think the flea market was only open until 2:00 p.m. and it was close to that time when we wandered over. A lot of what was left was...not anything I would want to take home with me. Socks. Some old belts. Dolls with googly eyes. It will just be one of those things I'll see the next time I'm in Madrid.

The only other thing I really wanted to be sure I did that day was go to the Prado. If you do not know...the Prado is an art museum. They have quite an impressive collection with many works by Spanish artists. They also have the "best painting ever!" (note Kyle wrote on the map he and Kym gave us) and it is incredibly large and easy to get lost in. But more on that later.

First, we had to get there. Back onto the Metro to the Banco de Espana stop and then a short walk to the Prado. Spain is so lovely because as you walk through the city, there are all these lovely parks and green areas you walk through. Here in Minneapolis, it's just a lot of concrete.

Below are some more pictures of things we saw on the way to the Prado.

Remember how I mentioned when we were in Barcelona, we saw all kinds of street performers on La Rambla? And they had crowds of people watching and giving them money? They had that in Madrid too...lots of living statues, one of a guy who was like a creepy baby in stroller, another guy as Edward Scissorhands. But in Madrid, people kind of ignored them. It was a little sad. People just walked on by. Myself included, which is why I have no photos of them.

And then we arrived at the Prado! I think this is it anyway. I have to be honest. At this point, the trip was three months ago and it's all a blur. Must keep travel journal next time.

So, I think on Sundays, after 5 p.m. the Prado is free. We got there around 4:15. The Prado has multiple entrances and it was really unclear to us where you went for the free line. Then I saw that it was 12 euro to get in and David and I decided that rather than wait around, we'd just pay. I'd been under the impression it was like 24 euro to get in. For 19.50 you could get admission and the Prado Guide. I let the cashier know I would like this and she pointed me to a small stand a few feet away where a Prado Guide was sitting. She wanted to be sure I really wanted it. Why? Well, the Prado Guide is just shy of 500 pages and weighs about the same as a gallon of milk. It's huge. And on the cover, it has "the best painting ever!"

Of course I got it! I also have the guide for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian (which is suspiciously would fit in my back pocket). I really recommend these as souvenirs. will be very handy as I now tell you about some of the paintings we saw at the Prado.

We had to head to the gift shop to pick up the guide. We opted to not do the audio tour, although I think next time I would do that. Instead, we had the map that Kym and Kyle had used earlier that day and they had circled their favorite paintings and where they were. We decided to just stick to their plan.

I didn't take any photos inside and I'm not going to post actual pictures, but you can go to the links to see the painting.

Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights was fascinating. Click here for many images. There is so much going reminded me of a "Where's Waldo" scene drawn for an adult audience by someone with a sort of creepy imagination. I am sure an art critic somewhere is just slapping their forehead right now. The Table of the Deadly Sins is similar in the sense that there is so much detail. You could spend hours on just these two works of art. Click here for images of the table.

We also saw Goya's Black Paintings, a series of works from the later years of his life.I believe many of these be painted on the walls if his house. I have no idea how they got them into the Prado. You may be somewhat familiar with the painting of Saturn Devouring his Son, which is genuinely disturbing. There is also a painting called The Dog in the same room, which I rather liked. It's a dog after all. I got my mom a bookmark of this image. Then I later read that the dog is drowning. That may be just one interpretation. I prefer to think he is climbing a hill in search of a treat.

Continuing with the theme of rather depressing art, The Triumph of Death by Peter Bruegel the Elder was another that I just couldn't stop looking at because there is so much detail and I really, really wanted to find someone on that painting who was kicking Death's ass.

Of course, it is not all doom and gloom. There is of course the "best painting ever!"...Las Meninas by Velazquez. Kyle had read someplace that this was the best painting ever. I'll just let you read the Wikipedia article. I find the whole scene charming. I also really liked the Adoration of the Shepherds by El Greco. The colors and use of light was striking (don't I sound like an art critic now?).

I am also reminded now that I am paging through my Prado Guide that I really wanted to learn more about Queen Joan the Mad as we saw a couple paintings that depicted her and I was very curious about her life.

I could go on and on. The Prado has no shortage of magnificent paintings. However, museum fatigue does set in after a few hours and David and I decided to head back to the apartment. The problem was....we were lost in the Prado. That led to this Facebook exchange with my brother:
Me: How do I get out of the Prado?
Matt: Did you try the door?
Me: But where. Where is the door?
Matt: It's right there behind you, straight ahead and to the side.

Ah---Facebook. Sadly, my brother was in MN and really didn't know what he was talking about, although in most other cases he is spot on. So, we wandered about a wee bit more and eventually we found our way out. I of course stopped at the gift shop and stocked up on magnets and considered getting my sister a puzzle of "the best painting ever!" but decided against it because the box was rather large and wouldn't fit well in my luggage which already needed to bring home about six bottles of wine. She got some magnets instead.

Back to the Metro, short ride to the apartment. I'm sure we then did the usual - enjoyed some wine on the little terrace, ate some cheese. Someone made pasta with pesto for dinner. Yummy! It was an early night to bed. The museum fatigue had done me in.

One full day left in Spain. Check back in a few more days to find out how we spent it.

Friday, December 30, 2011

On to Madrid!

So, when last we left off, we were at the Barcelona airport. Did I mention what a nice airport it is? And it has some great shopping. I picked up some fun things at the Nartura store, which is described on this website as "A home ware and gift shop offering everything from candles to incense sticks" but I got some jewelry there. Yay!

The flight to Madrid was pretty uneventful. We were on Vueling airlines again which was just lovely. They had a little catalog and you could order a keychain shaped like the airplane seat belt buckle. If they had actually come around and taken orders, I so would have gotten one.

I was surprised by how arid the middle of Spain appeared from the air...then again, they were having a drought. Eventually, I felt as though we were flying in circles. I kept seeing the same building below. Then the pilot came on to inform us that we were indeed flying in circles. So observant, am I.

Eventually we landed in Madrid. Nice airport. We got our bags. We got maps. Yay maps! Then we began our journey to the hotel which shall not be named. We'll just call it Voldemort.

Madrid has this nice airport bus that takes you and drops you at various places around Madrid and would get us quite close to Voldemort. And it was super cheap - like 2 euro or something crazy like that. Almost immediately I understood why. They packed you in so tightly, there was no way you could move. My bag on the rack was out of my view. I was right next to the back door and thus worried the door would fly open and fling me onto the streets of Madrid. To counter this, I laced my arms around the luggage rack and held on for dear life. I was then anxious the entire ride that when we got to our stop, it would take us too long to get our bags and the bus would take off before we had exited. These are the things that make me worry.

Luckily, with a bit of maneuvering and shoving, we were all able to get off the bus at the proper place and begin our short walk to Voldemort. Madrid has a completely different feel than Barcelona. More traffic. The streets are not as neatly laid out as in Barcelona. More people. But, it was beautiful.

Madrid was the only city where we were staying in a hotel (the aforementioned Voldemort). We had found a suite hotel though, where we could have a little kitchenette. Arrangements had been made ahead of time so that we would have a triple and a double suite. The hotel was aware that there were nine in our party (I saw the email correspondence) and assured us this arrangement would work. We were told that the double had two rooms and the triple had three rooms.

This was not so. The double had a bed for two people. The triple had a bed for two people and another bed for one person. Instead of having accommodation for nine, we had accommodation for five. Thus began about an hour of negotiations with the desk clerk who didn't speak much English.

The hotel was full, so no extra rooms were to be had. At first he said we could get some cots. Then he said we couldn't. Then when we showed him the email that clearly said there were nine of us, he said he could find us some cots. Then, and this is the most maddening, he completely changed his tune and said since there was only sleeping space for five, only five of us could stay there. Four of us would have to find someplace else to stay.  So, even though Voldemort knew there were nine of us coming, the hotel absolutely refused to let nine of us stay there.

The wifi was iffy, so a bunch of us were huddled in the tiny lobby. Sure, Mr. Desk Clerk made a half-hearted attempt to find us other lodging, but it was all very expensive. It was Saturday at 6 p.m. in Madrid. Not too easy to find a hotel. By some miracle, Lea found an apartment that could accommodate all nine of us that would be available the next two nights. Then Lea and Amit did one of those, "name your price" hotel websites and we found a place to stay a short cab ride away. So, now all was well, other than being separated for the night. That and the fact that Voldemort had a great locartion in the heart of Madrid and the apartment was further out. Oh well. We were just happy that we would all be able to stay at the same place.

But now we had more important things to think about. Namely, dinner! Kym had read good reviews of La Trucha, and it was within walking distance of Voledemort.


We got there right when dinner started, I think around 8, and had a great table outside. It's close to a public plaza so there was a lot of activity.

Happy once more...drinks, food. The unpleasant desk clerk at Voldemort quickly becoming but a bad memory.
The guidebook recommended the asparagus so of course I ordered that and it did not disappoint. Grilled, with the right amount of salt. A little crispy on the end, but not too much.

I know this is a horrible picture. But this was the best asparagus I've had in my entire life. Also, I didn't take many photos that first night in Madrid, so you are stuck with poorly lit photos of food.

David ordered some sort of grilled pork kabob that was simply amazing. And the potatoes it came with! OH! Those potatoes. I believe I made a bit of a spectacle of myself enjoying them.

Pork and potatoes. If this is all I ever ate for the rest of my life, I'd be one happy girl. Probably tremendously unhealthy, but happy.

Kim had the trout, one of the specialties. And I ordered the garlic chicken, which also came with the potatoes. This was another amazing meal in Spain, and we had the most charming waiter. I would highly reccomend it if you ever find yourself in Madrid.

Another poorly lit food photo, but this was my yummy yummy chicken. Lots of little bones there. Clearly the boneless, skinless chicken craze has not taken over Spain.
And last but not least, Kym's yummy trout. I think it was trout. Very good.

Our dinner ended with me pinching the salt shaker. Random restaurant condiments make great souvenirs and are more memorable than a postcard. I'd been talking about wanting to take it and as we got up to leave I think maybe it was Alan who handed it to me and I quickly stuffed it in my purse. I then skipped away whispering, "run run run run run run run".

 The pilfered condiment in question. It now has a place of honor in my home.

We headed back to Voldemort, Lea, Amit, David, and I grabbed our bags, shot a cold glance at the desk clerk on our way out, and then made our way to the main street to get a cab. Madrid was alive with activity.  Our new destination was the Melia Castilla, about a ten minute cab ride. Our cab driver was quite nice and pointed out the Real Madrid stadium on the way. That thing is huge.

Finally, we were able to relax. It had been a long day...and the first major hiccup of the trip. But, we had plans to meet the rest of the group at the apartment the next day and then we could begin exploring Madrid. Only two more days left in Spain. Where had the time gone? It seemed like just the day before we'd been in Lisbon!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Last Morning in Barcelona

 This is the lovely church just across the street from our apartment.

You may recall that on our first full day in Barcelona, we walked over to the Sagrada Familia to see that the line stretched clear around to the opposite side of the church. We decided at that point to explore elsewhere and perhaps come back later that day. We never did make it back that afternoon, we were far too tired, and I kind of thought it might just be one of those things I missed on this trip. You can't see everything, right?
Alan and Erin had been there...they had arrived before it opened and got in line. Alan said it was amazing and really worth seeing, so Saturday morning Kym, Kyle, David, and I woke up and got there about a half-hour before it opened. There were already people in line, but we were very close to the front. Kym wandered off in search of coffee (I believe she came back with Starbucks) which the rest of us waited in line.

One of the many problems with ATMs is that you always get larger bills. In Spain, our euro always came out in 20 or 50 euro bill. Here at home, giving someone a $20 bill is not a big deal. But in Spain, quite often merchants did not have change for a 20 euro bill, let alone a 50. At one particular store, David got some coins and chocolates back because the merchant didn't have enough change for him.

Waiting in line. Sigh. Where is my cafe con leche?

I thought the Sagrada Familia would be a perfect place to get rid of one of my 50 euro bills. After all, this is a major tourist attraction. Surely, they are used to the larger bills and would be able to break my 50. It was 12.50 euro per person to get in so I thought I'd pay for David and I and get 25 euro back. When I handed my 50 to the cashier, she immediately asked me if I had anything smaller or a credit card. I lied and said no. I wanted to get rid of the 50 for crying out loud. NO ONE would take it anyplace else. She grudgingly took it, but told me I would get my change all in coins. So, off I went with 25 one-euro coins. Similar to carrying around a roll of quarters. I could have stuffed them in a sock and warded off any criminals.

Crucifixion scene.

 Detail of the Passion Facade.


I really liked these doors. See the first photo of these three for a description.

With a much heavier bag, we gazed for a bit at the Passion Facade and then headed to the right, under the little bridge, past the school, and into the museum to start. Alan had suggested this as a way to avoid some of the crowds. It also means you get to read all the history before you see the church, which makes sense.They have a rather informative video and all the exhibits were excellent. You can also look down on Gaudi's tomb - he was buried within the church (tragically, he was struck by a trolley and died before the church was finished. It still isn't finished, so he wouldn't have lived to see it completed anyway, but it is still sad).

Then you come outside again and you are on the side of the Nativity Facade. I think I mentioned once before that we called this the happy side and the Passion Facade is the sad side.The third side is the Glory Facade, which I don't think is finished yet. Or maybe it is and we just didn't have enough time.

The contrast between the Passion and the Nativity Facades is striking. Whereas the Passion has hard lines and is quite austere, the Nativity Facade is much more ornate and even has some color to it. There are happy angels, the shepherds,  everyone you would expect to see at the Nativity.

The Nativity Facade. You can see the shepherds and wise men at the bottom.

You can sort of see the Tree of Life in this photo - towards the top. It is green and looks like a Christmas tree. Gaudi originally wanted the entire Nativity Facade to be painted.

Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.

Next we headed inside, and the interior is simply amazing. Many cathedrals and churches are very ornate, with lots of gold and silver, intricate details, elaborate stain glass windows. The Sagrada Familia is not like this, but it is even more beautiful because of it. The columns are designed to give the feel of being in a forest, and the light that shines through the stained glass gives an airy feeling to the place. Many of the cathedrals we saw in Spain and Portugal were quite dark inside. The Sagrada Familia is bathed in light.

I found this photo (click link to see) on Wikipedia, and I think it just really captures the beauty of it. I really need a better camera. Regardless, here are some of the photos I took inside.

 More pretty stained glass.

The altar at the Sagrada Familia. 
There were four pillars that each had a visual representation of the four Gospels. 

 Close-up - I really liked these. I

 I just like this picture because it shows how beautiful yet simple the space was.

 OOH...the ceiling again.

Sadly, we didn't have as much time as I would have liked to wander around and I am sure we didn't see everything. We had to get back to head to the airport for Madrid. And first, I had to stop at the gift shop!

For such a major attraction in Barcelona, they have a gift shop the size of a postage stamp. You actually have to wait in line to get in. When people leave, they will let additional people in. When I got up to the front of the line, they didn't let me in right away, and the person behind me in line POKED me twice as if it say, "Hey, get in there!" Thank you very much, I think I will wait until they indicate I can enter. Impatient tourists.

Then, it was back to our apartment, some last minute packing and cleaning, and then off to the airport. Kelly, Kym, and I decided to take a cab. The rest of the group took public transport. Maybe I am a travel snob. Maybe not. But it sure was nice to not have to carry my backpack again. Our cab driver was the tiniest, cutest woman I've ever seen, yet she flung our bags around with ease. Wow.

We got to the airport and then had to wait around for the rest of the gang. As with many airports, there wasn't anyplace really to sit around the ticket counters, so we just sat on the floor near an escalator. We sat there for quite a while when a security guard came along and wagged his finger at us while speaking in Spanish (or maybe Catalan). He seemed to be indicating that we could not sit there. So, we stood instead.

The rest of the gang arrived, we got checked in, got our boarding passes, and then we had some time to kill. David, Kym, Kyle, and I settled on this cute little restaurant with tapas and beer. Really good Spanish Omelette! Some Iberian Ham. Very friendly waiter. Quite the pleasant airport eating experience. Much nicer than the lunch in the airport at Sevilla.

 Salut! A little relaxation before the plane ride.

Then, it was off to Madrid, where we had quite the Saturday night adventure. But, I'll get to that later.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The neverending stairs

Untitled from Michelle on Vimeo.

So, in Barcelona we were on the fourth floor...and it seemed like you the stairwell just went on and on and on. Watch the video to see what I mean.

Monday, December 12, 2011

To the Monastery!

So, after we had some snacks and coffee, we got back into our little bus and headed to Montserrat (not to be confused with the island). To get there, you travel a long and winding road up into the mountains. As we drove, Marta told us the story of Montserrat - how some monks found a statue of the Virgin in a cave in the mountain. They decided a cave was no place for her to be, so they picked her up and started to carry her down the mountain, but as they carried her away, she became heavier and heavier, until they could no longer lift her. Finally, they decided to just leave her and build the monastery around her. Now, pilgrims come from around the world to visit her and touch her hand. More on that later...

The view.
What amazes me is how they managed to build this amazing monastery pretty much on the top of a mountain. I'm also fascinated with how cell phones work, television, and how what I am typing on my computer here will be seen by you, yes you!, on your computer in South Carolina (Hi Pauline! We got your Christmas letter today!). So, pretty much anything I cannot actually see happening boggles my mind.

The monastery.
Marta really wanted us to get there by noon so we could see hear the Boy's Choir. Click on the link and you can hear them too! In this video, you get a better sense of their cute little robes. Where did their arms go? We got there just barely in time...Marta asked if we wanted to see the Virgin as well. Sure, why not? I didn't really know what that involved, but she said she would get in line to see the Virgin and we should head into the chapel.

An adult choir was singing, and then it got to the point where someone checked and Marta was about to head to the inside portion of the line. So, we joined her. Luckily, the line runs along the side chapels inside so we were still able to hear them. They sounded like little voices from heaven. And when they are done one little boy says thank you or goodbye or something in a bunch of different languages...and then off they go. The file off in their little robes with their arms stuck inside, looking sort of reminiscent of wingless penguins.

On the first link above, if you look closely above the boy's choir, you can see people filing past on what appears to be a balcony. That is where the Virgin is. She is a Black Madonna, and the Christ Child sits on her lap. I didn't take a photo because that seemed disrespectful to me (although plenty of other people did). Not really disrespectful to her, but there was a really long line to see her. You can click the link to see what she looked like.

There is a lot to see while you wait in line though. It's just a beautiful place. I took a lot of pictures, but most of them looked pretty bad. I need a better camera.

Close up of some of the carving in an archway.
This is one of the martyred saints. I think there were two walls of women with virgin martyrs and one with non-virgin martyrs.I forget who this one was, but I think she was burned.

So, they say that you make a promise to the Virgin and then ask for a favor and touch her hand. The example Marta gave us was of someone she knew who told the Virgin that if she granted this person their wish for a child, she would climb up Montserrat on her knees. Shortly thereafter, she became a mother. And she has been crawling up Montserrat on her knees, a little bit at a time. 50 feet one day...get in the car. Come back a few weeks later, another 50 feet (or something like that). Sneaky! I did ask for something, but I don't remember what I promised. Oops.

Now, this is not the original Madonna that was found in the woods...Marta said no one has ever given her a straight answer about where she is. Hmmm.....

After we visited the Virgin, you walk through the Ava Maria passageway, which I thought was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Candles upon candles upon candles of prayers.

Then, there is this little room with all sorts of "stuff". A wedding dress, baby clothes, various doll parts (arms, legs), all sorts of things. Marta explained to us that when you ask the Virgin for a favor, and she grants it, many people come back and leave something behind to thank her. So for instance, you may pray for pain in your arm to go away. Obviously, you can't leave you arm behind, but a doll's arm represents that.

Then we wandered a bit around seeing nothing in particular until we headed to the cafeteria for lunch. Ham and cheese sandwiches again. Yum!

After lunch we walked down the mountain just a wee bit. We walked along the pathway a little ways that has art depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Each station has statue depicting that piece of Christ's life and there is information about the artist and who donated the money for the piece of art. The ones we saw were all beautiful. Then we took the funicular back up the mountain.

There was a wonderful little market going on. I bought some honey and fig bread? Date bread? Gah...I can't remember, but Marta said it was a local specialty.

I'd love to head back to Montserrat someday and hike all the way out to the chapel that stands where they originally found the Virgin, see all the statues, explore the gift shop, art museum.

But, we didn't have time. We had to head back to Barcelona.

This guy was obviously tired.
We had such a wonderful day with Marta. We were back around 4:00 or so. David and I headed to the little pastry shop I had been to with Kym and Kelly. We got cafe con leche, pastries, and sat there and pretended to read the Catalan newspaper. We headed back to the apartment where everyone was on the roof, deciding what we should do for dinner. All these choices, but what we really wanted was Chinese take-out. :-) Lucky for us, there was a place right next door. We enjoyed our take-out with some cava or course! For dessert, the fig bread from the market and this other equally delicious treat from the pastry shop.

 Then, it was off to bed. Exhausted once more, but thoroughly satisfied with another amazing day in Spain.

See you tomorrow!