These last few months have gone way too quickly and now we are on our way north for our final fling in Spain. Before this past year, our only experiences of Spain were brief visits to the Costa Brava and Barcelona, but these gave us enough of a taste to want to explore more of this interesting country. Before departing we wanted to return to these areas to remember and compare.
Our first stop was the delightful town of Monistrol and as we drove towards it we could see the amazing massif of Montserrat. These mountains were awe-inspiring and, as we drove towards them, I likened them in majesty to the Grand Tetons.
Beautiful architecture in Monistrol
Views to the mountains
Chris was looking forward to heading out on his cycle once again, he bought this road bike, second-hand, back in May and had ridden almost every day we were in Spain. Today was ride number 219, but also to be the final one. Riding in Spain had always been a pleasure due to wider roads and the courtesy of the Spanish drivers towards cyclists, but today as he rode out of Monistrol the road went through a short tunnel. Thinking to be safe, Chris spotted a narrow footpath through the tunnel and decided to ride on that to be out of the traffic. About 100m in he rode into a protruding fire extinguisher box and tumbled onto the road. Thankfully traffic wasn’t heavy and was slow due to reduced speed limits and he got himself safely off the road, picked himself and his bike up and managed to exit back out of the tunnel the way he had come. A couple of motorists stopped to check he was ok and then three police cars arrived and asked him to stop and
chat. An ambulance had been called but Chris was sure he was fine and said no. The police cars brought Chris and his bike back to our hotel where I had been warned he was coming, and reassured he was ok. Taking off his shirt revealed a nasty shoulder gash where he had hit the metal fire extinguisher box, and a lump on the other shoulder and developing pain. I asked the hotel staff to get the ambulance please, and when they arrived, Chris was seen to quickly but also admonished by them for sending them away initially before he was checked. He was them helped down the stairs and into the ambulance to be whisked (lights and sirens) to the local hospital, where he received very good care – stitching up and x-rays of his shoulder ribs and hips. A minor hairline fracture of his other shoulder explained his pain, but the worst pain was the realisation that his cycling and skiing plans for the next month were cancelled. We were more than thankful that there was nothing worse, Chris was still able to walk and talk and we could continue with our travel plans, albeit more slowly.
Travelling up the rack railway
These amazing mountains
The next day, we caught the rack railway up the mountain from Monistrol to the Monastery de Montserrat. I had seen images of this amazing place in Instagram feeds, and actually being there did not disappoint. The rock formations, the views and buildings all combined for a magnificent experience. In the afternoon there was a boy’s choir performance at the Basilica which was really good to hear. However, looking around the audience, all you could see were iPhones and mobiles and cameras pointed forward. It’s so sad that people can’t just enjoy the experience for what it is rather than focusing on technology. Wandering around the site, we could see the funicular undergoing testing, sadly it was closed but looking at the track climbing so steeply up to the summit was pretty scary in itself.
Huge rock landscape
If you look hard you can make out bodies and faces
Funicular in testing
Funicular in perspective
Views across the valley
From here, we headed north again to the Costa Brava and the villages that we have loved visiting in the past. It was interesting to compare this area of Spain to the south. Whereas we were previously used to white villages clinging to steep hillsides, these villages were built with local brown stone and although on hills, not nearly as steep. We love them though and enjoyed wandering through many of these little villages such as Pals, Peratallada and Begur. We also spent some time in Girona, which we hadn’t explored in any detail before.