Mountains and Castles and Wine. Oh My!

Our first Spanish excursion was up to Montserrat to check out the monastery followed by a trip to a 1,000-year-old castle, turned winery.

Montserrat is the number one day-trip from Barcelona. And it’s apparent based on the crowds. We took a bus then cog railway up to the monastery to check out the mountain views and the church.

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According to lore, Benedictine monks found a black Madonna while constructing the monastery. They were unable to remove her, so instead, built the monastery around la Moreneta.

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There was a long line to see la Moreneta, so this was as close as we got. See her? Up there in the middle.

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There are still 60 Benedictine monks who live at Montserrat as well as 50 boys in the Escolania choir, one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Europe. They go to school as well as perform daily at the monastery. Unfortunately, it was summer break, so we didn’t get to hear them sing.

But we did enjoy looking around the church:

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From the monastery, we hopped on a bus and drove to Oller Del Mas, a castle overlooking the Montserrat mountain range. Better known as the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range.

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As I mentioned, this is a 1,000-year-old castle that is currently in its 36th generation of ownership by the same family. The Mergenat family adheres very strictly to the rule that the eldest male heir inherits the family fortune. Can you imagine inheriting a medieval castle??

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The previous-generation-Mergenat decided to turn the castle into a winery and they’ve been a small producer since.

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We enjoyed a welcome drink of white wine on their outside patio…

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…followed by lunch and three more tastings: a syrah-grenache blend, a grenache-samsó blend, and a full samsó. I sat next to an Irish couple who were so nice. Correction: the woman was so nice. I believe the man was equally as nice, but I could only understand about 30% of what he said, so I’m basing this off his smile, laughter and tone of voice. His accent was so thick; he might as well have been speaking a different language. Talking to them, however, has moved Ireland up on my list of places to visit. Specifically, Cork and Galway – they said it’s fine to skip Dublin.

Tipsy off our tasting, we toured the winery. The grounds seemed a bit dry for growing grapes, but they seemed to do ok with the environment.

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We climbed to the top of the castle tower to enjoy the view…

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…then had a brief history in herbs.

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Sadly, I cant remember what we learned about the herbs. They should have done the herbology lesson pre-wine.

We climbed back on the bus to head home to Barcelona. Which really means, we climbed back on the bus for all us to enjoy an hour nap on the way back home to Barcelona.


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