Two things I typically seek out while traveling long-term are fantastic scenery, whether man-made or natural, and a good walk or hike. Usually wandering around whatever city I find myself in includes plenty of walking, but it’s also nice to get close to nature and walk for the sake of walking.
The monastery atop Montserrat is a great getaway from Barcelona, since it’s only about half an hour away. For one day in April of 2009, I traded fantastical architecture, a sparkling sea, and whimsical parks for dramatic mountain peaks and rocky terrain.
This mountain hike didn’t involve a strenuous climb. From the train station, I hopped into a 70+ year old cable car and excitedly took in the scenery on the way up.
I spent my day at Montserrat enjoying the gorgeous weather, people watching, and of course, hiking. I poked my head into the monastery for a few minutes, but it was such a perfect spring day that I quickly returned to the fresh air.
This was one of those times when I was glad to be traveling alone, despite the fact that I was highly aware of couples and families all around me. Here in the mountains, the scenery and grandeur itself was my companion. I could take as much time as I wanted examining flowers and leaves from all possible angles, or merely gazing at the magnificent views from the hiking trails. I scrambled on the rocks, feeling like a giddy five-year-old about to open her Christmas presents.
My last shot of Montserrat:
How cool is that? I keep looking at the picture half incredulously: I both love that I hiked there and can’t believe it. Montserrat and the surrounding peaks are so otherworldly. Just like in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, I was in completely unfamiliar terrain and loved every minute of it.
When you’re [traveling] with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it. –Shauna Niequist