I surfaced rather early after a relatively sleepless night to see that the shower was nice. However, I also started to note that the house wasn’t quite as nice as you could be lead to believe from the pictures, although perfectly adequate they had a bit of a damp problem in the bathroom, and some of the kitchen cupboard doors weren’t quite flush, but lovely all the same.
It was lovely to sit in the sun trap room at the back of the apartment on the futon, complete with bolster cushions (thanks to Kirsty pointing it out!). As I sat there with a coffee reading my book, Goldenhand - The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix, I began to relax and really feel like I was on holiday. The coffee came from a mini hamper that the hosts provided us with, which also had some Champagne and a tube of Pringles, just right for snacking on after our flight. It was just right, I began to take in the rest of the flat décor and furnishings. It was minimalist with bold colours in contrast to the black and white of the majority of the furnishings. There were a number of ornaments with natural materials, wood and pebbles scattered around, but not feeling cluttered. It was relaxing in the short term, but I could see that it didn’t look like it would be cosy or have the sense of home without a bit more personality on show. It was good to see that a lot of it had actually come from IKEA, so I’ll probably be doing the same when I eventually land my own place to call home and am not renting. The sun trap/contemplation zone also had a giant Chinese lantern lamp on a bending pole. I felt like it went really well with the futons and completed the aesthetic.
After a rather leisurely start we went in the direction of the main square en-route to Montserrat Abbey. We planned to stop for Coffee and brunch along the way. We stopped by a café called ‘Le Petit Pot’, which had lovely décor comprising of old luggage, ornaments hanging from ropes from the ceiling, and old cameras in old slat fruit boxes attached to the wall. Inadvertently I had chosen to have freshly squeezed orange juice at the grand price of €4! It was lovely and sweet, but with the exchange rate of the time being 91p to €1 it was quite steep!
When a table was free we moved to order some food. Each of us asking for different things, I went for a Smoked Salmon bagel with avocado. Naturally, as it had just passed 12 and I had seen a local doing so I also ordered a beer, opting for a half pint of the local Barcelona Pilsner, which proved to be crisp and refreshing. There was a lovely fluffy brown dog in the café too, drawing al lot of attention to the clientele. Perhaps too much of ours too, as within a short space of time after that, Steph noticed that her bag was gone! Somehow, under all of our noses it had been taken from near the table! The staff were very helpful, apologetic, and friendly. One even offered Steph some pancakes in the hope that something sweet would help to lift her spirits. The explained that this was only the third time that it had happened in their café. They gave us the address of the police station, and Steph and Chris set off to it, having finished, while Alex and I finished our meals.
I was glad of my Pixel (phone) to navigate us to the police station after making quick use of the free WiFi that the café offered. Unknowingly we walked down Las Ramblas a street market down the central reservation of a road, which was lined with Police. Despite this I was increasingly keeping an eye on my bag and making sure things in it weren’t going to be easily accessible. Evidently there was a fair bit of it nearby. I think I may have seen a couple of others who had been affected on the way as well as at the station itself.
The police were helpful to Steph and wrote down the things she was lacking for the support including phone IMEI. We were instructed to go to a nearby café to get free WiFi in order to cancel all of Steph’s cards. Alex used some of his prepaid credit on a VOIP account after spending a little while to check the phone’s location on Google Maps history, but this sadly requires an internet connection, which the phone didn’t have without WiFi, and at this stage only two locations would’ve worked. When we entered the café Alex ordered a coffee and croissant, asking for a table for 4. Due to the wonders of translation, it turned out he’d actually asked for 4 servings of the refreshment, so all of us enjoyed them, it turned out they were less than €2 each. Considerably cheaper than even just a coffee in London.
Determined not to let the event rain on our day we soon headed off in the direction of the train station to take us to Montserrat. After a bit of a hunt around the numerous station entrances around the square we found the correct one and bought return tickets that included the cable car up to Montserrat itself. The journey lasted around an hour. The route above the door had LEDs flashing to show which the next station was, and solid red for the stations we had passed. The temperature underground, much like the Bakerloo line in mid summer in London made me glad to be wearing shorts and T-shirt.
On arrival we discovered that somewhere along the journey Chris had lost his ticket. Thankfully there were no barriers to disembark the other end, unlike the UK. We set off with the plan to originally walk up. But no thanks to the thief we were delayed and decided it’d be best to just take the cable car. While queuing we could see two dogs out behind a fence. One of which was pacing up and down, who we nicknamed Audrey as it seemed to be a dog version of him. Some tourists were certainly making a lot of use out of their selfie sticks. They took a shine to a young lady with a child and began to take photos of her, and posed with her for photos. This seemed a little alien to us with our more guarded culture. Chris decided that he’d try to blag his way through the cable car as he still had his receipt for the train fair, of which mine was the other half. Thankfully the guard stamped it and let us through, although was a little frustrated at first.
The end of the cable car journey up reminded me of the swing in New Zealand, which drew rather close to the rock face. The other large group filmed the entire journey. When stepping out at the other end we were quite surprised to see just how long the queue was to get back down. There was a brisk wind that instantly made me regret my choice of attire. In passing other locals who were well equipped with thick coats and scarves I felt quite foolish!
The Abbey was beautiful and an impressive feat to build at the altitude it was at. I lent Steph my camera, having lost hers in the bag the thief took. The peace and quiet within the Abbey was lovely. Large pieces of art were situated in the alcoves. There were large lanterns of varying origin hanging at the edges. These had been modernised slightly with lightbulbs instead of lit candles. Alex had become intrigued with the ‘Laser Bird’, a dove with rays of light (I’d interpret as hope) seeming to originate from its wings.
Following on from this we went into a side door, which lead into tunnel of hundreds of coloured candles. In the low light I began to snap away and have a play with different shutter speeds on my phone. While listening to Alex explaining how to achieve an abstract blur by moving the camera as the shutter was open. Chris was more successful with his actual camera, but I was very pleased with my own results too. After a while here, made warm by the candles, we decided we needed to start making headway back to the city centre and joined the queue to descend in the cable car. The queue definitely grew behind us, full of people with nice warm looking coats while we stood there shivering in the biting cold wind. There was a well-behaved dog in the queue with us. We were aware at this point that we would be late in meeting Tom. It took us over an hour in the queue, then we had another half an hour wait for the train, which we managed to find shelter from the wind by huddling near a ticket machine.
I was relieved to see that the train was not calling at every stop on the way back. I certainly needed the loo by this point, but I didn’t want to become separated from the group and have an hour long wait for the next train. When we reached the end we rushed to board the metro to get to Tom as fast as possible, now an hour late. He was visibly panicked but relieved when we arrived. He’d been trying to use the passing buses WiFi connections to get in contact, but unfortunately neither of the messages Chris tried to send were received, nor did Chris receive any from him whilst on the Train. He quickly forgave us and the University gang was back together again (apart from Audrey, Alex H).