Of course, the day I eventually agreed to do yoga on the terrace at the hostel would turn out to be, not only the one cloudy day of my entire trip, but also bloody freezing!
It was so cold, in fact, that the lovely hostel staff brought us crazy yoga-goers blankets to huddle ourselves in during the class (ever done yoga with two blankets on? Not easy, I can tell you!) The hostel offers yoga every morning for 5 euros (bargain!), as long as there are a couple of people who want to take part.
After some chilly meditation, I said goodbye to a couple of hostel friends who were heading off on the next part of their journeys before making my way to the Joanic Metro and the first stage of my day trip to Montserrat.
Montserrat is a mountain about 45km northwest of Barcelona, where you’ll find the beautiful monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat and the statue of the Black Madonna – patron saint of Catalonia.
I jumped on the train at Espanya station and whizzed north towards Manresa. About an hour later, I arrived at Monistrol Montserrat, where you get on the rack railway Cremallera Funicular at foot of mountain. For those brave enough, the stop before Monistrol (Aeri Montserrat) is where you can catch the cable car up to the monastery instead.
My fear of heights aside, the journey up the mountain on the Cremallera Funicular was incredible. It’s a tough choice between watching the beautiful Catalonian countryside unfold below you or gazing up at the breathtaking mountain above.
Once you reach the monastery, you also have the option of taking another (practically vertical) Cremallera to the very top of the mountain. I couldn’t quite work up the courage to do this but I heard that the views from the paths up there are absolutely beautiful.
The first thing you see when you leave the station is the monastery to the left, against the backdrop of the strangely formed mountain. To the right, the view of Catalonia is awe-inspiring. I took a ridiculous number of pictures right outside the station before following the walkway further along and realising that there are amazing vantage points sticking right out over the edge of the mountain.
I grabbed a quick bite to eat at the Restaurant Montserrat, where you can sit and take in the view at your leisure. Afterwards, I headed back to explore the monastery and catch a glimpse of the Black Madonna in the Basilica.
I started one of the many walks around the monastery but had to give up after half an hour (tip, don’t wear ballet shoes – other people will be there in full hiking gear!) so I headed to the gift shop for some souvenirs and then jumped on the next train back towards Barcelona.
By the time I got back to the hostel, I was exhausted and in desperate need of packing ahead of my checkout the next morning. I was going to make a start on it but then my newest roommate – a girl from Texas – came back in and asked if I had dinner plans. Somehow I managed to make myself look presentable and bandaged my badly blistered feet enough to go out. The staff at the hostel had recommended a little place called El Glop right around the corner on my first night, so I suggested we try it out.
The Texan spoke excellent Spanish, meaning for the first time since I arrived I felt like I could actually order exactly what I wanted. She asked for a local wine recommendation and our lovely waiter (Freddie – he took a bit of a shine to the American!) brought us a great Catalonian red. We decided to share their chicken paella, which was huge! Even though we were completely full, Freddie managed to convince us to order desserts, of his recommendation – which turned out to be the richest I have ever tasted – a cheese pudding with honey and a delicious mascarpone cheesecake. We sat amongst all the locals enjoying their family meals, feeling pretty at home and chatting about life, love and everything in between (sometimes hostel friends are actually the best!)
We ended up being the last table to leave, sometime around midnight. I said goodnight to the American and sat on the hostel terrace for a little while, finalising plans for my last day in Barcelona, before I headed for bed and had the best night’s sleep of the entire trip…