Monday’s monastery Montserrat

It seems unpatriotic to visit Barcelona and not see the Catalan holy place. It has played an important role in history.

The trip up there was interesting for me because I took public transportation — a bus and a train and then the special train up the mountain, which is a stunning journey.

And the site itself is magnificent.

And the basilica is quite splendid.

And there is a pretty extensive art museum with some very good paintings and artifacts from the Holy Land which includes Egypt and these lovely cats.

And the boys choir was other worldly.

It just felt more like a theme park than a sacred place. Nice day out.

Sunday

Looking down on the hidden back yards out my bedroom window in the early morning.

Heading out across Las ramblas.

Of course, chocolate and churros.

Wandering Barri Gotic.

Taking the bus around the beaches.

There is just so much here to explore.

Saturday

Now I’m on my own. I was glad to find the hybrid we rented is easy to drive. I took it down the coast to Tarragona, which was a major Roman port. They built the theater right on the sea.

It became a walled medieval city and still has the old narrow streets.

I had loved it last time I was there but today I was ready to move on. To another monastery, Santes Creus, in Catalan. They had a great audio visual introduction. It was a surprise to find myself in ruins.

With an old cloister with aged cypress.

And a newer Gothic one.

The church has been restored but it was closed for a wedding.

It is all set in beautiful country.

Friday

We went to Estacio Sants so Kevin could get the high speed train back to Madrid. Then I went behind the station to get a local bus up to the monastery of Pedralbes. Some local ladies were having a salsa class.

And there was nice graffiti.

Pedralbes is my favorite place in Barcelona and probably my favorite cloister. Maybe it’s lighter and more feminine because it was built by Queen Elisenda. I was able to sit on a bench in the sun and enjoy it.

Such a peaceful place.

Thursday

We drove to Barcelona and checked in to the wonderful apartment.

It is on the top floor of a building in Sant Antoni, which is my favorite part of Barcelona.

Kevin had to go back home, so he had to get a Covid test at a lab. It was right up the street from Gaudi’s Casa Mila.

With a tapas and paella restaurant right around the corner.

Certainly a great welcome to a great city.

Around the hotel

Today we took advantage of where we are, which is a hotel called Monasterio de Piedra. It was a monastery founded in the 11th century. Eventually it came into private hands and the owner developed the natural assets. And here we are.

First we toured the old church and cloister.

Then we walked in the park, which involved climbing up and down around waterfalls and ponds. I’m amazed I made it but it was so gorgeous.

We got back to the hotel for an excellent lunch and a well earned rest.

National holiday

October 12 is the national day of Spain because that’s when Columbus discovered America. It is also a day of fiesta in Zaragoza to honor Nuestra Senora del Pilar. This involves a flower float and a procession. Nonetheless it was the day I had planned to visit Zaragoza so we went ahead.

The Roman museums were open. We saw the baths.

And the theater.

Then we went to the Plaza del Pilar and saw lots of people in costume.

The float was waiting behind screens.

So glad we went. It was a happy day.

East

Leaving Burgos for the next stage of our journey we drove towards the rising sun.  Fortunately it was mid morning. 

We stopped in Soria for a bit of tourism and lunch.

Palaces of renaissance princes.

Main shopping street.

Kevin’s lunch — plumas de cedro, boned pork chops.

Mine, tuna with sesame seeds. The potatoes were great too.

Now we are at the Monasterio de Piedra, named after the river Piedra, which is now a hotel.

View from my room. Perfect.

Home again

Sunday in Burgos starts with hanging out the laundry.

Followed by a reward of churros and chocolate.

Then off to see the famous monastery of Las Huelgas (which originally meant untilled fields)

The tours were all booked so we came back to the apartment.

Ours is the bay window on the right under the balcony.

Then the sun came out and we went downtown for a quick lunch.

The crowds were thicker than they look because I backed up to take pictures. There are outdoor tables everywhere!

A very lively city.

West

Heading for the ancient past when the Romans ruled Spain. Fifty years ago a bit of mosaic floor surfaced as a farmer was plowing his field. Since then the archeologists have carefully excavated a huge villa and it has been beautifully staged.

It is completely enclosed for preservation.

What remains is mostly mosaic floor and stubs of walls. The walkways lead you around the cental courtyard. Screens show videos of how it might have looked. Very evocative.

Hard to photograph the details of the floors.

Then we went to Palencia, which was conquered by the Romans in 200 BC and has played an important role in history ever since. It is a dense city with scarce parking. We ended up at a lovely sort of ramblas park and found a great tapas restaurant.

Unfortunately I ate the food before I could take a picture.

We did catch a glimpse of the back of the cathedral.

Then we headed for a smaller town nearby, Fromista, where there is a beautiful restored tenth century church whose simple lines are the other end of the spectrum from Gothic cathedrals.

Quite a lot of variety for one day!