Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sunday 4 December - Colònia Güell and Monistrol Vila (Montserrat)

Where’s Colin? He's in the bus/coach park at Monistrol Vila funicular station, where he will stay tonight unless anyone comes along and tells us we're not allowed to be here. It's a huge area and, at its peak, since we arrived, there were four coaches here.

I would describe Colònia Güell as being, in concept, to Barcelona a bit like what Bournville is to Birmingham. In 1890 a chap called Eusebio Güell decided to build workers' housing around his textile mill. In so doing, he created the place known as Colònia Güell, and also gave his workers social conditions better than those of the average mill worker.

He then commissioned Gaudi to design the parish church and whilst it wasn't a project that was completed (because Güell pulled the funding), it was the element that ensured that over 100 years later the place would become a tourist attraction.

The attractions for us were twofold: 1) it sounded like a place with interesting buildings, worth a stroll around; and, more importantly, 2) it has a free Aire.

We could have parked there for free for the couple of days, walked a few minutes down to the train station and been in the centre of Barcelona within 25 minutes. We opted not to do that, and thus used the Aire for the purpose for which it was provided: for visitors to Colònia Güell itself. Or, perhaps we didn't do quite as the town wanted, as we didn't pay €7 a head for the audio tour of the town and for access to Gaudi's church. We did, however, walk around the town, with the aid of a photo of the map information sign provided in the car park and with the little information about each point of interest provided on the town website. It didn't take long, but it did feature some eye catching buildings:

The last snap is of the church. I might have managed a better shot if the building wasn't so comprehensively surrounded by fencing, to keep the non-fee-payers away.

Having been too scared of the thought of going for a run in Barcelona (far too many side streets and I'm only just getting to grips with which way to look when crossing the road), just before lunch I donned my Ron Hills and accepted that my outing was going to be hillier than I would like. Arriving back red in the face and glowing nicely, off went Mick to do the same route (going separately meant we didn't have to carry two sets of keys and passports with us, the two things we don't leave unattended). The difference was that whereas I had a nice bright outing, Mick got caught in a monsoonal downpour. Dripping doesn't start to describe his state when he returned and thus Colin is now doubling up as a drying room.

We might easily have whiled away the afternoon with our books, but at about 3pm decided to stir ourselves to move on - a decision largely influenced by our lack of power in our phones and back-up batteries, some of which would temporarily be alleviated by driving somewhere. Running Colin's heater at full blast whilst driving was also going to help with the drying out of running gear, even if it was only a half hour drive.

And so now we sit looking at a big-lump-of-largely-bare-rock sort of a mountain, or, at least the lower reaches which aren't covered in cloud. I took a wander when we arrived and had a quick shufty at the exhibition about the funicular railway, but decided to leave the detail until tomorrow, when we plan to take a ride up to Montserrat. Alas, the forecast doesn't suggest we're going to benefit from views.

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