On day 2 of our tour we checked out of our hotel in Andorra and boarded the bus to Barcelona. After an hour or two, we stopped at Montserrat, a mountain above Barcelona with strange peeks that share an uncanny resemblance to South Dakota's black hills near Mount Rushmore. Atop the mountain sits the Santa Maria Abbey, consecrated in the 1500s and home to the Escolania de Monserrat Boys' Choir. Click here to go to the official website of Montserrat.

I wish we would have had more free time here because there is a hiking trail to the top, a museum or two, and several little shops to by honey and nuts and jams. Instead we gathered around for a short explanation from our history teacher and had about half an hour to take pictures before we headed into the church to hear the boys' choir. The performance lasted only about 15 minutes but I enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me of my dad and I knew he would love being there in the huge cathedral with me, listening to choral music.

The Escolania del Escorial is one of the oldest boys' choirs in Europe. They perform Monday through Friday at Montserrat and for vespers on the weekends. The song we heard was in Catalan so it I couldn't understand it. I didn't realize how different Catalan was until this trip, where signs and public notices are nearly impossible to read. Everyone still speaks Spanish (or English in Barcelona) but lots of written notices are in Catalan, similar to here in Valencia where signs are in Valenciano. Anyway, here's a video of them singing Angels We Have Heard on High so you can get an idea of what they sound like.
After Montserrat, we boarded the buses and headed down the mountain where we stopped at a scenic overlook and picnic area to eat our sack lunches. The scenery was beautiful and everything about it reminded me of traveling with my family through the US, stopping at roadside overlooks, eating together and enjoying the view. We ate and rested in the sun until enough time had passed that our bus drivers, who have to stop every 2 hours for 40 minutes, could drive again. Lots of people work really hard to make these trips possible for us and the bus drivers have some of the hardest work. They have to do everything from fight busy city traffic and roundabouts to drive us up windy mountain paths, and they are always friendly and ask us if we are having a good time. 

At last we arrived in Barcelona and Cristian took the bus microphone to point out interesting things we passed. Soon we found ourselves ascending yet another mountain, this time Tibidabo, even closer to Barcelona and home to two churches and an amusement park. The view was great and we could see La Sagrada Familia rising above the city. However, it just seemed like a strange place to all of us since it is basically a mountain with a church, another church built on top of the first church, and a small carnival underneath. 

Finally we descended into the city and headed straight for Las Ramblas, a main street in Barcelona with shops, restaurants, and tons of tourists. Our hotel was right on the main street and it was a bit difficult to get everyone unloaded with all our luggage. Check-in with a group of nearly 90 is always a difficult task, but our sponsors have everything worked out pretty well and soon we were settled in our room, overlooking the busy streets of Barcelona. 

My favorite place we went that night was La Boqueria, a large open-air market with more fruit, candy, meat, and juice than you can imagine. It was only a few hundred yards from our hotel and fresh squeezed fruit juice went on sale at the end of the day for 3 cups for a euro. My favorites were banana-cocount, kiwi-coconut, and coconut-guava. 

That evening I walked around a bit with Seth and Jon and then headed back to my hotel room early, tired from our day of travel and ready for a good night's sleep. Luckily I brought my earplugs so even the ramblings of the Ramblas and the metro beneath couldn't keep me awake.
Sheri Seibold
2/23/2013 07:34:48 am

Yes, I kept looking for the presidents faces in the rocks behind you and Justin. Also love to see my 'curly girls' in these photos, and of course the tiny cutie foods.

2/24/2013 07:23:08 am

This looks so fun, Shelby, the open-air market and all. Love the picture of you and Rachel and you and Justin! And the video of the boys singing was very good. I love it all.


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