by Andrew Stein

As part of our stay in Barcelona, we rent a car to explore some of the nearby sites.  The first one on the list, Montserrat, surprises us in many ways.  The first is weather – we’re completely submerged in a cloud until about 100m away from the Benedictine Abbey near the top of the mountain when we actually find ourselves above those clouds.  We finally find parking, step outside our car, and realize we probably should’ve packed another layer.  Luckily, we both had sweaters and warm jackets, but even that was barely enough as the temperatures were below freezing.

The second surprise was how much Catalonia history was packed into this small abbey.  Serrat is in fact a Catalan word meaning “serrated”, which refers to the outline of the mountain we’ve climbed.  And it is Catalonia’s most important religious location, first built in the 11th century and then again in the 20th.  It is still functioning today.

The third surprise is when we learn of the artists featured in the connected museum, we hadn’t expected to find works by Caravaggio, Picasso, Dali, Monet, Degas, and many other greats!