A very comfortable bus took us on a quick overview of the city, then it was off to Montserrat and the monastery there. It was quite a surprise to find ourselves winding up narrow roads, way up into the weird and fantastic mountains. The monastery was lovely and the Basilica of the Black Virgin gorgeous with medieval architecture and statuary and tombs of knights...like walking into a fairy tale. The shops and kiosks selling cheese and other local fare were very nice. We had a lunch that was included in the tour and I think everyone had a jolly time. I am not used to seeing bottles of red wine on the table - just help yourself! The bread was excellent too. Then it was back down the mountain side, back into Barcelona for a quickie walking tour of Barri Gotic. Our tour guide took us to the Ramblas at the entrance of the Gothic Quarter. Some of our group could not make the walk, and our guide instructed them to wait in the large park where the bus let us off, and where we would meet up. She was efficient and friendly. We had a brisk walk through the old quarter. There was so much to see! But I do think I got the feel for old Catalonia. Then there was time, although limited, to explore on one's own. I myself, not being used to the "Times Square" press of people all around, was a bit unsure about being left to my own devices and stayed in the gift shop she recommended (public restrooms) but the more adventuresome could grab a bite of tapas or otherwise experience a bit of Barcelona. The three or four people we left in the park were still there upon our return and then it was back to the ship! Perhaps tours to Montserrat, or Barri Gotic should be done separately, but with so much to see and so little time, what can one do?
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