Monday, 5 December 2016

Monday 5 December - Montserrat and Vic

Where’s Colin? He's at an Aire in Vic.

We didn't end up spending last night in the station coach park, but not because anybody told us we couldn't park there. Rather, it was the arrival of five car loads of boy racers, just as we were about to go to bed. They didn't just arrive, but decided that, of all of the huge area, right next to us was where they wanted to be.

Huge coach park! Photo taken when we returned today.

They were of no threat to us, being far too busy taking photos of their cars (getting cloths out and cleaning bits of paintwork at times), revving their engines and listening to music. It was the latter two activities that chased us away, not knowing for how long they would continue. Given the options of chancing a disturbed night, or retreating to somewhere we knew we would get a good night's sleep, we opted for retreat and returned to Colònia Güell, where we'd left a few hours earlier. It had been a wasted journey for the second time this trip (the first being our initial foray into The Carmargue a few weeks ago) - and it required a journey in the dark, which is something we avoid.

This morning we fought our way out of Colònia Güell's car park just as the school run was reaching epic levels (they have the local police acting as traffic and crossing wardens for the school run, you know) and pausing only for a supermarket and a petrol station*, back we went to catch our train up to Montserrat.

If, when I'd woken up this morning, I'd known what I know now, then I would have sprung out of bed, not passed go and been back at Monistrol Vila in time to catch the first train up to the Monastery at Montserrat this morning. I realised the error of my belief that a couple or three hours would be long enough up there as soon as we stepped out of the station after our ride up on the rack railway (not funicular as I said yesterday; there are funiculars up there, but it's a rack and pinion to get up there (or cable car, but give me a train any day).

Montserrat is a largely bare, shapely lump of steep-sided rock, standing 1236m high, giving an extremely scenic setting for the monastery which perches on the edge of it, over half way up.

Not only was the monastery and tourist complex much bigger than I'd expected, but the scenery was far more outstanding and the funicular railway that nips you up an extra hundred metres or so from the tourist complex/monastery looked strangely enticing. Had we been earlier we would have taken advantage of the funicular and taken a walk up to the mountain's summit.

As it was, we spent a while moseying and visiting a few viewpoints available within the tourist complex...

so many big views!

...before cramming our sandwiches down and heading off to the basilica for the daily performance of the (apparently) world famous boys' choir, belonging to a choral school established in the 14th century. It was only a ten minute performance, which made it incredible that so many people, after clicking away taking photos and videos, with no cares about blocking the view of those behind them, couldn't spare the time to stay for the duration. So rude!

Not taken during the choir performance!

With the summit being beyond the time available to us today, we made do with a couple of short out-and-back walks. The second one, to a cross-bearing viewpoint was particularly worthwhile (although the first route, down to the chapel built where the long-AWOL Black Virgin icon was finally found, also featured some fine views).

At quarter past three we called it a day and headed back down to Colin, finding time for a quick look at the exhibit on the history of the railway and a cup of tea before we headed off to our next stop, in Vic.

There is another place I would have liked to have visited for a day on the way, but our LPG level was such that we thought we needed to refill and that caused us to beeline to Vic. (Of course, when we filled up we discovered we still had the best part of 4 litres of gas left; with one exception, it has always been the case that we err on the side of caution and find we had more left than we thought.)

We arrived at the Aire just before dusk and there were already quite a few vans here. More have arrived since and, last I looked all bar two were Spanish. It's only since our arrival that I've discovered that both tomorrow and Thursday are national holidays, which no doubt explains why so many people are out in their motorhomes. Good job we did that grocery shop today, leaving us just in (desperate) need of diesel tomorrow.

*We stopped at that particular fuel station because diesel was 99c/litre. It turned into a refuelling fail. We concluded that we needed to pay in advance, which is always a pain as it requires guesswork as to the quantity of fuel that will fit in the tank, followed by the need to communicate badly in a language I don't speak. Had I realised how low we actually were on fuel, I would have made more effort, as we now find ourselves with a range of 50 miles and only know of expensive fuel stations nearby.

(Note: I'm pretty sure I've missed some photos and got others in the wrong places in this post but don't have the will to check and put it right just now.)

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