In Barcelona, directions are never in terms of north or south; instead, they’re in terms of las montañas (the mountains) or el mar (the sea). From most places in the city you can see the sweep of the Collserola Mountains in the distance, and the Mediterranean is just in the opposite direction. Since I want to take advantage of everything Barcelona has to offer, I’ve spent the last week exploring both las montañas and el mar.
Tibidabo is the highest mountain in the Collserola range, and it also has an amusement park at the top. I was very bummed when a DiscoverIES trip to hike up Tibidabo was cancelled due to a heat wave, so I decided to hike up myself when the weather cooled down. It was a nice hike up the mountain, and there were some great views of the city from the top. However, I was a little annoyed when, hot, sweaty, and tired, I reached the top of the mountain only to see people in flip-flops getting off the funicular to ride the Ferris wheel. In protest of their lack of effort, I refused to ride the Ferris wheel and hiked straight back down. I don’t think anyone noticed.
A far superior mountain to Tibidabo is Montserrat, home of the Montserrat monastery. It’s about an hour from Barcelona by train, plus a (terrifying) five-minute cable car ride to get to the monastery. The monastery is very impressive, perched high up on the side of the mountain and housing the Virgin of Montserrat, a famous Black Madonna statue. The collection of museums, shops, and an all-you-can-eat buffet that accompany the monastery are slightly less impressive, and gave me unpleasant flashbacks to Tibidabo. Luckily there are plenty of secluded hiking trails on the mountain that let you escape into nature. My friend and I decided to hike all the way to Sant Jeroni, the highest summit of Montserrat. The views on the hike up, and especially from the summit, were absolutely spectacular. We had fantastic weather, and could see all the way to the Pyrenees. I would say Montserrat is an essential day-trip for anyone living in Barcelona, especially if you like hiking.
A more challenging experience for me than hiking Montserrat was learning how to paddleboard. I signed up for the DiscoverIES paddleboarding excursion without any idea what using a paddleboard is like. I soon discovered that trying to stand up on a paddleboard in the ocean is like trying to stand up on the back of an angry hippopotamus (or at least what I imagine that would be like). I fell in the water many times, and eventually decided that paddling from my knees was probably the best option. It was definitely a new experience, and we ended the day with a beach volleyball game and drinks on a terrace, so overall I had a fun time.
It’s hard to believe this is my last week in Barcelona. I have final papers to write and exams to study for, but I’ll try to squeeze in one more blog post with some parting thoughts. ¡Hasta pronto!
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<p>Greetings! My name is Martin Deutsch, and I am a rising junior at Colby College. I am a computer science major, but I also enjoy reading, writing, hiking, and video games. I am super excited to share my adventures in Barcelona with you this summer!</p>