Friday, December 18, 2015

Hola Barcelona - Part 2

Every time we go on a trip whether local or overseas, I love researching Catholic churches around the area.  Where I grew up, we have this thinking that we have the privilege to pray for three wishes the first time  we enter a new church. It's a bit silly, but what's the harm in trying? J  But seriously speaking, our holiday vacation is more complete and more fulfilling whenever we have time to do church visits.

Part of our trip to Barcelona was to go on a pilgrimage to Montserrat, a Benedictine monk mountain retreat. For some people, a visit to Montserrat is considered the highlight of their Barcelona trip. Whether you’re a Catholic or not, a trip to this magnificent mountain is worth your time. Indeed, it was an unforgettable experience for all of us. The view was breathtaking! Montserrat offers a spectacular view of the region of Catalonia. 

Montserrat | Barcelona | Chichi Mary Blog

You can take an hour train ride from the center of Barcelona to Montserrat but in our case, we chose to join a tour group and travel by coach.  It was a smooth one hour travel from Barcelona with a complimentary commentary from our tour guide of course.  According to our tour guide, Montserrat plays an important role in the lives of Catalans.  This is why many women are named Montserrat in Catalonia. 

Train | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog

As we got closer to Montserrat, we couldn’t help but get excited because the view was just astounding.  The remarkable thing about this mountain are the rock formations that you can see from a distance.  The moment our coach dropped us off at the grounds of Montserrat, we couldn’t stop wandering.  We totally forgot that it was just the beginning of our exploration of this beautiful mountain retreat. 

Rock Sculpture | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog
A beautiful rock sculpture at the terrace.

Mary couldn't help but enjoy the view from the terrace.  For a trip like this, she prefers wearing a great colorful knit dress like this one  from Me Too.

Walkway | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog
The pathway from the terrace to the basilica.

On our way to the church, there were also a lot of vendors of cheese, bread, sweets, and wine.  I remember that they had a great selection since they were promoting their local cheeses and spreads. Unfortunately, I was not able to spend a lot of time in this area because my main goal was to enter the basilica and to touch the Black Madonna within. Our time was quite limited as we had to comply within the time frame of the tour, and the lines were very long.

Rock Formation | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog
A closer look at the rock formations.

Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog

Basilica | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog
The facade of the Basilica.

A closer look at the sculptures seen at the facade of the basilica.

It took me almost two hours in line to touch the Black Madonna. It was quite a long wait but it was important to me. My close friends would know that I'm a Marian devotee hence, why I named my daughter Mary and eventually, naming my online kid's boutique, Chichi Mary.

The line started outside the church and snaked inside along narrow hallways. My husband and Mary could still see me in line while sitting inside the church but the hallways got narrower too as I got closer to the altar of Black Madonna.  The Black Madonna sits on an alcove. So if you’re kind of claustrophobic, this might be an issue. But in my case, the moment I touched the Black Madonna and prayed, my tiredness and worries were just washed away. For me, it was simply magical and it was all worth it.

Interior of the Basilica | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog
Inside the basilica.  The architecture is a combination of Gothic and Renaissance.
Altar | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog
At the back of the crucifix is a view of the alcove, where the Black Madonna is located.  Unfortunately, taking photos of the Black Madonna is prohibited and I was only given seconds to pray and touch the Black Madonna.

While I was waiting in line, my husband and daughter took the opportunity to explore the grounds of Montserrat.  They had a fantastic time appreciating the beauty of this spectacular place.  I have some of my favorite photos of Mary that we will cherish for a lifetime.

Grounds | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog

Crucifix | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog

Water Fountain | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog

Candle Lighting | Montserrat | Chichi Mary Blog

Our trip to Montserrat was unforgettable! We missed riding the funicular to reach the highest peak or browse at the museum, but for me our trip was complete because I was able to accomplish the thing that matters to me most! 

Meanwhile, there's still a lot of things to share from our Barcelona Trip.  Stay tuned for the third and last part of our Barcelona trip!


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