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2019-PLEASE NOTE: Since Google has stopped Open ID comments, I've been receiving Anonymous comments that don't SEEM like spam. If you DO comment on a post, please don't be disappointed if I don't post it. When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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November 02, 2015

Friday - Montserrat and a winery tour

Heather and I had signed up for a tour that would include a visit Montserrat, a multi-peaked mountain in a range of mountains that are basically bare rock in very unique formation, where the Benedictine monastery Santa Maria de Montserrat is located; and would also include a winery tour.  It was a full day tour, leaving Barcelona in the morning and getting back that evening.  

We had two young men as tour guides - one did the Montserrat portion and the other the wine and they were both fun and informative. They both did a good job keeping us informed and entertained.  
And I am so far behind and right now on a train to Genoa to meet Rosanna who will be my gracious hostess for the next couple of days that I am basically going to just post my pictures with a note here and there like I’ve been doing pretty much this whole trip.

Incidentally, did I already mention to those of you who subscribe to the “follow me” gadget that my sister said the pictures come into her inbox quite small so she goes to the blog to enlarge them?  They came into my inbox small also, but I clicked on them right in the inbox and they got bigger so if yours seem small, you might want to try that.

Here we go with the Montserrat portion and I apologize for the quality - I don’t know if I had my camera on some weird setting or if it was just because it was early morning and a hazy early morning at that but my whole first batch of pictures taken while on the bus and on our arrival at the monastery were real blue.  I deleted a lot of them and tried to fix up the ones I used.  

This was taken from the bus and is part of the range of mountains.  The batch of jagged peaks in the clouds pictured below is Montserrat and in these pictures, we have stopped at the monastery and are ready to tour the church.  Seems like the mountains bare rock formations were my favorite part - there are certainly a lot of photos of them.

This was taken after we arrived at the monastery and that center grouping is Montserrat (if I'm understanding things correctly).  Part of it was still cloud covered and it was very beautiful.
And if Montserrat wasn't the grouping above (which I think it should be - it's prettier) then this grouping that runs along behind the monastery buildings was.  The name describes the mountain as serrated so this could very well be the real Montserrat.  But I still think the other one is better. :)
 And since it's my blog, here it is again!

We're now inside the church which was very dark but really gorgeous.  Seems kind of strange that a monastery would have such an opulent church...

 These lanterns ran all the way around the sanctuary and every one of them was different.

I think Heather read off the name of the person this statue depicts but, of course, I can't remember.  But it was in such a nice setting with the little waterfall, rocks, greenery - just very peaceful.

 And there I am standing at the precipice.  Notice I left a good foot to foot and a half behind me.  It was really amazing that there was nothing between the hikers and an accidental stumble to death.  And I almost forgot to mention, the reason we were on this terrifying path was because we had taken the funicular from the abbey area up the hill and I mean straight up the hill!  The track was at a very steep angle.  But you get off and can then walk to the cave of the Black Madonna but (thankfully), we didn't have time to do that.

 This reminded me of somewhere else I've been that had this kind of fence - and I really liked it too.
And here we are ready to head off to the winery.

After we finished there (and as with Sagrada Famiglia, I was glad we did because it had also become very crowded), it was about another hour or so drive to the winery.  Beautiful, beautiful scenery out the windows.  We had climbed up and up to get to Montserrat and now we were going down and down to get to the winery, so both trips were enjoyable with the down one raising a few hairs now and then. :)  Not too many winery photos but here they are.
 You can almost read that the winery we visited was the Oller de Mas winery.  Our guide told us that the property has been in the same family's hands for about 1,000 years.  Oller means potter in Catalan (not Spanish) and that was the main thrust of the family business but at some point, they also started creating wines and that and olive oil are what they produce now.  It's considered a small winery, only producing about 100,000 bottles a year.
 Don't know for sure why a winery would have so many bottles waiting for recycling unless they really enjoy wine from morning to night!
 In these two pictures the level green parts are some of the vineyards.

This wasn't the tasting room but I thought it was going to be and took the picture.  Then I didn't take a picture of the actual tasting room.  Sigh...

We had the wine tasting and this one was much more "educational" than others I've taken part in.  He explained the steps to tasting a wine - what to look for, smell for, and taste for.  With each one, he would then ask us to look, smell and taste and guess what we were smelling and tasting.  Heather got the golden nose award because during the smelling she guessed the correct category (animal, vegetable, mineral) correctly and during the tasting she guessed what the animal, vegetable, mineral was.  I think she must be secretly training to be a sommelier!

I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember what we did for dinner that night but I will say I don’t think I had any food in Barcelona that I didn’t enjoy.

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