Today our goal was the Benedictine monastery at Monserrat. Robin has been doing some reading and discovered that the Basilica has a boy’s choir that sings Monday through Friday at 1:00 pm. That changed everything, and now our arrival time has to be prior to 1:00. We opted for a lift to the outskirts of Castellolí which chopped about 9.5 K off today’s walk. The climb to Montserrat starts here so we still had some work to do. We left our driver and pushed off uphill into the morning cold. We soon found ourselves double checking the gps frequently to make sure we were on the path as the path was not always well defined. It was a steady moderate climb along a trail that had moments of promise, but more frequently moments of frustration. It just seemed to decide to disappear from time to time. This was the only time I have used the compass function on my phone to confirm where we should be going. We were headed for a road, which I knew was close by, but there was no discernible trail to follow. Hence the compass. So we bushwhacked a bit and eventually we found some goat path that had a semblance of use, and followed it. It had a few odd steep descents where you had to sit on rocks to slide down as you could not span the distance by stepping. Anyhow down we went on a trail that didn’t look like a trail, but had some markings, until we spotted the road. We scrambled up, actually side stepped up, to the road, and got our bearings. We were now standing on pavement and this would be our trail for the rest of the 9K into Montserrat.
We simply walked the road (no other option). We enjoyed the fine walking weather, and the views were spectacular, so we just put the road walking issue aside and moved on (cautiously). The iconic view of the serrated rock formations came quickly today and stayed with us as we walked from one side around to the other, where the monastery is. There is no denying the impact that walking into this sanctuary creates. It is a holy place that just grips you as you enter. We swiveled our heads around trying to see every stunning view at once. Very hard on the neck, thank you very much. But, stunning it is. We stopped by the pilgrim office to get our credentials stamped, and they asked if we needed a place to sleep. We explained we had a reservation in the Hotel Abat Cisneros right next door. I mention this as the Benedictines are committed to showing pilgrims true hospitality. I can’t imagine any pilgrim arriving here, asking for lodging, being denied. A bed would be found somewhere.
We walked next door to our hotel, found that the lady who handles check ins was indisposed for a bit so we dropped our gear and headed to the basilica for a look around and, of course, to hear the boy’s choir at 1:00. It was a short program of two songs that were sung beautifully. What a way to walk into town. Returning to the hotel we splurged on an à la carte lunch which was just perfect. After lunch we retreated to our room to unpack and clean up. Pilgrim chores still had to be done. Our next event for the day would be to attend vespers at 6:45 with the monks and the boy’s choir singing the service. And so it went just a gorgeous day filled with splendid scenery, beautiful music, and prayer. Throw in a great meal and the day was as perfect as anyone could hope for. After the vespers we walked the now almost vacant plaza, gazed down (way down I’m telling you) to the lights in the distant villages and towns below, and just drew in the unique peace of this place. What a day!