Every two years or so, my organization holds a World Staff Conference (WSC), bringing together staff from all of our 15 offices that are located around the world. Our most recent WSC was August 2019 in Barcelona, Spain! For this trip, I also brought along my mom for a vacation after the conference was done and my friend Jodi, who was also attending the conference as a consultant, also joined us for a few extra days. As usual with my travel journals I have split up my blog posts in a way that made most sense to this particular trip. Enjoy!
Catch up on my other posts about this trip here:
Intro – Barcelona, Spain
Girona, Catalonia, Spain
Pals and Calella de Palafrugell, Catalonia, Spain
Palau de la Musica and the Arc de Triomf
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
Montjuic and the Olympic Park
Gothic Quarter and the Mercat de la Boqueria
Doors of Spain
Well friends, we’ve made it to the end. I know I’m not a very “timely” blogger when it comes to sharing about my travels, but to me they are more of a journal for me, so if you’ve stuck through with me, thanks. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I enjoy sharing.
Today is all about our trip out to Montserrat. Mom and I took a half-day trip there on our last full day, after Jodi had departed for home. However, Mom actually visited twice! The week before while I was still in staff-only meetings, Jodi and Mom booked a different half-day trip that included a horseback ride. Jodi is a regular cowgirl, so she was in heaven and I heard that you wouldn’t have known that it had been decades since Mom had been on one :). I was concerned at first that Mom was going to be doing the same trip twice but each tour actually ended up being quite a bit different so she was the true winner.
Santa Maria de Montserrat is a mountain top monastery in Catalonia, Spain, about an hour drive from Barcelona. “Montserrat” means ‘serrated mountain’ in the Catalan language, which describes the unique rock formations of the mountain. The monastery was officially founded in 1025, though it is believed that monks started coming there in the 9th century and built the four original chapels, one of which is still standing — St. Iscle Chapel. The Basilica is home to the Virgin of Montserrat (Black Madonna). It is believed to have been carved by St. Luke in Jerusalem and found around 880 AD. The legend is that Benedictine monks could not move the small statue to construct the monastery, so instead, it was built around it. Today it is a Holy Site and is a popular pilgrimage destination. One of the other main highlights of visiting Montserrat is listening to the famous Escolania boys’ choir everyday who perform twice daily. The boys in the choir live and go to school there, and also travel all over the world to perform.
There are multiple way to get up to Monserrat including hiking (how cool would have that been?!). Mom and I were in a tour van (warning to those with issues with motion sickness, it’s not fun), while Mom and Jodi took the funicular/cable car up the mountain (Jodi says this was also not so pleasant). Once again, Mom and I used Viator to book this excursion. I talked a bit more about this travel service here — I highly recommend it! We had the best tour guide, Joan! On our way out to Monserrat, someone in our van asked him how he liked being a tour guide (he was also a pianist in a band), and his answer really stuck with me. He shared that he genuinely loved making people happy and that both of his jobs allowed him to bring joy to others, meet new people and share his pride for his country and its history. His personality and mannerisms actually really reminded me of a dear college friend and old DC roommate who LOVED giving tours of the U.S. Capitol (Hey, Prelogar!), so I just really appreciated what he added to our experience.
I just want to add here, before I lose anyone taking the time to read to the string of pictures ahead, that I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel like this with my Mom and experience this together. I know I am one of the lucky ones to have the kind of relationship I have with her that I do. But it also takes hard work. I know at almost 30 I still test her patience left and right and we aren’t immune to the typical mom-daughter clashes. But I know that aside from love, our relationship is also built on a lot of mutual respect, honesty and friendship. She’s my Mom, but she’s also one of my best friends. I know that doesn’t jive with everyone’s philosophy, but it works in our family. It was just really special to me to travel solo like this with her and have her meet and get to know my U.S. wheat (work) family and friends. I am also grateful for the folks back at home keeping our flower shop going, so that Mom could join me on this fun adventure with little hesitation.
I would honestly love to go back one day for a hiking trip!
Thankful for super long lenses. I opted to be able to walk around and see more instead of getting in the long line to walk up close to the Virgin of Montserrat.
That ‘all’ I’ve got friends! Spain is such a beautiful country and culture, and I’ll definitely be back someday. For now, I’m just trying to decide where I want to go next. Cheers!
And just for fun here are some of my other past Travel Journal posts:
Italy -Six Day Self-Guided Hike, Rome, Venice, Florence and More
Nashville, Tennessee – Girls Weekend
Estes Park, Colorado
Thailand and the Philippines
Tumon Bay, Guam
New York City – Girls Weekend
Lake Tahoe, Nevada