2018-12-01 41 1
Today's location is in the underbrush near Olesa de Montserrat. As the name implies, the town is not far from the Montserrat mountain, one of the mayor landmarks and the monastary there is one of the most important religious sites of Catalonia.
Country: Spain; Communidad Autónoma (region): Cataluña/Catalunya (Catalonia, EU:ES-CT); provincia (province): Barcelona (EU:ES-B)
I was in Barcelona on a business trip on Thursday and Friday and extended the stay until Sunday. On Friday evening I looked up the hashpoints for the weekend and saw the Saturday one not too far away from the city in (kind of) walking distance from a train station. I looked up a public transport connection on google maps but it told me that by train plus the bus in Olesa I would only be able to get to the hashpoint around noon and not at all back to Barcelona. I was a little sad but that's life. On Saturday morning I realized that google maps had shown me only the one connection that included the bus because I had set the hashpoint as the destination, but of course I didn't need to take the bus, I could walk from the train station! Checking again, of course there were many train connections between Barcelona and Olesa. Now my plan was to take a train so that I would be at the hashpoint for hash o'clock. Then while sitting in the sun at Plaça de Catalunya I had the idea that, if the town is called "de Montserrat", it could be near the famous mountain and monastery and maybe I could visit that as well. Indeed, it was just one train stop away, although not every train line would go that far, only one per hour. My new plan was to take the train to the mountain and visit the monastery (to reach the monastery you can either take the teleferic/aerial tramway from one train station or the cog railway from the following one), then take the train back for one stop and visit the hashpoint for 4 p.m. By the time I had found out which train to take the next one would leave 2 minutes later at the Plaça de Espanya, not far but I would not reach it in time. I took the subway to that place, then waited in the sun until it was time to take the train. I bought the "to Montserrat mountain and back and the teleferic is also included"-ticket for 36 €, while going to Olesa and back would have been only 16.50 €. Three stops in my journey all the passengers were sent out of the train, as there was a rail replancement bus service due to construction works. By the time the bus reached the other end of the interruption, the train I wanted to use had already left. Now I would not have enough time to visit the monastery in order to be at the hashpoint for 4 p.m. :-(
I rearranged my plan again, taking the train to Olesa. From there I started walking towards the hashpoint. While I was still on the grounds of the train station, I noticed a young man walking suspiciously slow and close behind an old woman. I kept an eye on them although I didn't have much choice as they were walking in front of me. When we reached the exit of the station where you have to validate your ticket to get out the man was staying close to me, which I didn't like, and he was telling me to go first through the barrier. I wasn't scared about being the victim of a pickpocketing because I only had my phone in the left front pocket and a little loose money and the ticket in the right front pocket of my jeans. While I'm usually a bit paranoid about being stolen from in touristy places, this time it was worse, as on our arrival day my colleague (who didn't extend her stay) had had her very new and very expensive smartphone stolen in the tiny streets of the Barcelona center (We know in which street it was and we think it was a certain young woman in a certain shop, but even instantly trying to locate the phone via internet didn't work. Those thieves are just too good. A**holes.). When I passed the barrier the guy pushed himself through behind me, then grinned and went his way. Yep, it was indeed a criminal, just a bit different from what I surmised.
The first part of my walk led me through the street of Olesa until I reached the end of the town. Then a track was going uphill through the countryside until I reached another area with houses. The first property I passed had two tiny dogs that came running to me and tried intimidating me, barking all the time. The gate was open but they didn't dare coming nearer than two meters to me. Those were only the first of many dogs in that area but the others were behind fences and gates. Good thing that, because those were much larger. I walked through the living area until the street started going downhill through the forest, then a forest track branched of which I knew I had to take. It descended uninterrupted, finally passing meadows and a building before I was near the hashpoint. On the last meadow there were two old football goals. The GPS wanted me to go into the bushes behind that meadow. For a moment I thought there was a steep cliff and I wouldn't be able to reach the spot but at second glance the slope was not very steep. I started to go through the underbrush and noticed many thorny vines that started ripping into my clothes and holding me back. Very carefully I was able to snake between the trees and bushes and only a few meters further the GPS told me I had reached the spot. Hooray!
I started to walk back, first through the thorns and past the goals, then up the hillside. In order to reach the next train to Montserrat I had to hurry, so I walked quickly. In the living area the dogs barked again when I walked past them. On the track down to Olesa my legs started to get a bit tired but it was no problem. I hurried through Olesa and reached the train station with ten minutes to spare. When I took the ticket out of my trouser pocket it was very damp from my sweat. I didn't have the time to wait for it to dry, so I put it into the gate. The machine buzzed, then nothing happened, the barrier stayed closed and the ticket didn't come out again. Oops. I had a short moment of panic about how I should get on the train now, because the two other gates were out of order and I didn't have a ticket any more! Then I went to the ticket machine and bought a single ticket to Barcelona for 4.10 €, much cheaper than expected. While trying the options of the ticket machine I found out that the ticket to Montserrat and back (again with teleferic) was only 15.40 € from Olesa, that meant I had just enough money for it. Now that I was almost at Montserrat anyway I decided to go ahead and visit the monastery, so I bought that ticket. The wheelchair access gate was working so I could get to the platform and take the train to Montserrat. While on the train I tried to check in for my return plane on the next day, but the phone battery died before I finished. I later found out that at least changing the seats (to the emergency exit row) had been saved by the system and I could complete the process in the evening. At Aeri station I went to the teleferic. When I boarded, I was the only westerner among 28 asians and I was standing right in the middle of the gondola where I didn't see much during the ride. The other tourists were very impressed by the scenery with two dozen "aaaah!"s and "oooh"s at the same time for much of the ride.
At the top I first went to the lookout point, as the sun was already starting to set. Then I went to the church. I followed the signs to the Virgin of Montserrat statue. It and the surrounding alcove were nice but I didn't feel a huge rush of religiousness or similar. Next I went to the crypt (boring). The next return train was scheduled for not much later and I didn't want to wait an hour in the dark, so I went back to the teleferic. I was lucky and got a spot on the next ride which arrived at the bottom very short before the train came. On the train ride back there was again the interlude with the replacement bus service but I finally reached the hotel. In the evening I went to eat tasty pintxos.
In total, I walked 12.2 km near the hashpoint, much longer than I had thought.