Monday, January 26, 2009

The Monastery and Me (and Linda)

I come from Chicago, often referred to as the Windy City. One would then expect that I would be used to wind and scoff at the so called 'viento' seen here in Spain. One might think that, but one would be wrong. This weekend four Barcelonians died due to wind related incidents (i.e. roofs caving in, trees falling on them, and pieces of wall falling on them). My host mother was terrified I would get hit by a tree and die while outside, luckily I seem to have survived. A bunch of trees in the area were completely uprooted, however, which is kind of ridiculous. The wind seemed strong but seriously, it didn't seem like the tree-knocking type.

On Sunday I decided I needed to get out of the city a bit so I convinced Linda to trek out to Montserrat with me. It's about an hour train ride from the city (round trip 15 euro) and it takes you to the foot of a beautiful rocky mountainside. We got a bit lost on the way out ending up in a random suburb of Barcelona but eventually found our way to the right place. Once there you get on a cable car and ride up the mountain to the monastery on top. Obviously this would not have been possible in the winds the day before but we lucked out and enjoyed the beautiful ride to the top. The monastery is the most ornate and decked out building I have ever seen. Every surface is covered in marble or gold and the painting, carvings, sculptors, and mosaics are breathtaking. Someone played on the organ at the front of the church leaving a haunted and melancholy feeling in the air as we drifted through the many rooms.

The monastery covers a massive amount of land and has paths that wind for what seems like miles around the mountaintop with white statues dotting the hillsides. We walked along one of the many paths for a bit and then decided it was cold enough to head back. We met up with a friend of mine for dinner and then all headed home.

Something I have neglected to mention is the Spanish obsession with cleanliness. Every night BCNeta drives around and literally hoses down every single street. In theory this sounds like a nice idea (if a bit wasteful of good water) but when you live anywhere near a window it makes going to sleep rather aggravating. I appreciate that they want to keep the streets pretty and clean, really I do. But must they do this at 2 AM? Might it be possible to wait until a slightly more reasonable hour? You know, closer to 7 AM? Or how about once a week? Work with me here. I really like to sleep. And they're often talkative, so you get the nice water sounds along with loud shouts of gossiping between the cleaners. So if you ever decide to move to Barcelona, be warned and bring earplugs.

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