A day trip to Montserrat
A mountain range an hour outside of Barcelona that requires a train, cable-car and funicular to get to? Sign me up.
My overriding impression and memory of Montserrat is of it being a utterly bonkers landscape. Completely improbable in appearance. It dominates the horizon as you fly in to Barcelona - an otherwise flat landscape is suddenly punctured by this weird and steep serrated mountain range.
From the train station you can choose to take a cable car or a rack railway to the Montserrat monastery. Because of stupidity I can only put down to short-sightedness by the operators, you can’t choose one for your outbound and the other for your return.
The town and monastery look like a set out of Game of Thrones.
Several short funiculars are available from the town to further up the mountainside. You can also hike up, but these cut out some less interesting parts of the ascent. Plus, it’s a funicular!
Not wanting to double back on myself, I found a path on OpenStreetMap that would lead me to the summit of Sant Jeroni. It wasn’t marked on the public maps, but how badly can OpenStreetMap lead me? The answer is very.
The ‘path’ was 100% not a thing, and meant an hour of hair-raising descent down the side of the mountain (wearing trainers), clutching at branches as I went down. I was very glad when I eventually joined a real path heading up to the summit.
The peaks of the mountains look like something from a cartoon book - or perhaps formed in a giant lava lamp. Bulbous and absurd. I think they look so ‘off’ because they don’t ‘taper’ away like most mountains - and they don’t look eroded in the same way.
In Catalan, Montserrat literally means “saw mountain”.
Within 30 seconds of my arrival on the summit it started to rain, followed by fog, followed by fog and rain. Somewhat of an anticlimax. Queue a proper drenching.
Sunny at the base though.