Walking around the Montserrat complex, Traci and I became curious about a funicular that traveled even higher up the mountain. The track was so long and steep it looked like a terrifying roller coaster. We bought tickets for this Saint Joan funicular and rode to the top. There are several walking trails at the summit. Walking these trails turned out to be our favorite activity during our stay in Spain. There were some awesome views of the countryside and the Mediterranean sea in the distance. There were also some steep drop-offs but the path was wide enough that I could walk at a distance from the edge so as not to invoke my fear of heights.
walking towards the heavens
great views from up here
great view but stay away from the edge
Wow! A chapel way up here!
my caveman pose
"Yikes! Are you sure this funicular is not a roller coaster in disguise?"
It was approaching closing time and we definitely did not want to get left at the top of this mountain no matter how beautiful it is. We took the Saint Joan funicular down to the Montserrat complex and then boarded the tram to take us to the R5 train. On our way down to the R5 train station, the tram made a stop at the same intermediate station as it did during our journey up the mountain. Everyone exited the tram except Traci, me, and a nun. Thinking the tram would continue to the bottom of the mountain eventually, we continued to wait. Finally, a worker came in and told us we needed to exit and that we would need to board a different tram to get to the bottom. It would arrive in 45 minutes. Ugh! Traci and I joked that if we were on the Amazing Race, we would have surely been eliminated by now.
The tram arrived on schedule and we made it to the bottom in time to take the R5 train back to Barcelona. What I had intended to be a 5-hour excursion to Montserrat and back had turned into a 10-hour event. But, I am so glad we took the trip. It was the highlight of our time in Spain.
We were not ready to go back to the hotel when we arrived back in Barcelona; therefore, we rode the hop-on hop-off bus to do more sightseeing in the city. We hopped off at Las Ramblas. This is the city's main tourist street. It is closed off to vehicle traffic. There is just a sea of people, restaurants, shops, night clubs, and plenty of street performers. Traci and I browsed the posted restaurant menus in hopes of finding a nice dinner spot. We were approached by several restaurant workers. They are sometimes aggressive in trying to attract customers to their restaurants. In the end, we chose a restaurant called Kilimanjaro just off Las Ramblas. We weren't really interested in trying the typical Spanish meals of tapas or paella. We decided we'd save our food experimentation until the cruise where all our meals are included. Therefore, we had a very good pizza at Kilimanjaro. For dessert, Traci raved about her raspberry gelato and I loved my waffle and ice cream. I don't know what it is about the Spanish waffles but they are fantastic!
We caught the metro back to our hotel. We didn't arrive there until around 11:30 that evening. It had been a full day.
Sunday was cruise day. Hooray! The ship was not scheduled to leave until 5 PM so Traci and I decided to cram in as much sightseeing in the city as we could before boarding the ship. Our plan was to ride the last of the three routes of the hop-on hop-off bus routes and then visit Park Guell. Once again, things did not go quite the way we had planned. We boarded the hop-on hop-off bus, showed our tickets, and were told our tickets expired yesterday. How could this be? I was sure I bought a two-day pass on Friday. My mistake was that I assumed the hop-on hop-off ticket works the same as it does in other cities in which we've done this type of sightseeing. In those cities, a two-day pass means the ticket expires 48 hours after your purchase. This is not the case in Barcelona. Here the ticket expires at the end of the second calendar day. We were told we could go to the Bus Turistic office and ask for an exception. It took us about 30 minutes to walk there. We explained our confusion but the girl behind the counter was not budging. However, she questioned why we were sold a two-day pass so late in the day on Friday. She told us to file a complaint and even told us what to write on the sheet to increase the chances of getting a refund from the company. At the time of writing this trip report, I have not heard from the company. UPDATE: We received a full refund in January 2011.
Rather then pay for another ticket, Traci and I went with the second part of our plan - visit Park Guell. The girl at the counter told us it was better to take the Number 24 public bus to get to the park instead of taking the metro. The bus stops in front of the park. We eventually found the correct bus stop and took a ride on the very crowded bus.
Park Guell was not originally part of our sightseeing plans but on the train ride from Montserrat the previous evening, we struck up a conversation with some tourists from the Netherlands. They raved about the park and showed us some of the great pictures they took during their visit.
Park Guell was intended by Antoni Gaudi to be a futuristic, ideal neighborhood. Although Gaudi lived in a house there, the neighborhood never caught on as an ideal development. These days it is just a really cool park full of Gaudi's artistic architecture. The park is elevated. This allowed us to take in some great views of Barcelona. Traci and I joined the crowds of people admiring the artistic creations in the park. There were several street performers. Our favorite was a man in a costume that made him appear headless.
Gaudi architecture in the park
Gaudi architecture in the park
going to the Room of 100 Columns
park benches - Gaudi style
a view from the park
the 'headless' street performer
We decided to take the metro back to the hotel. I saw why it was suggested we take the bus to the park. It was a long walk to the nearest metro station.
Back at the hotel, we collected our luggage and caught a taxi to the cruise terminal. The cost of the taxi ride converted to approximately $23. With that, our pre-cruise stay in the fascinating city of Barcelona had come to an end. We were looking forward embarking on our 7-day Mediterranean cruise.
Magnet Purchased on this Trip: (click to enlarge)Entire fridge magnet collection...