Posted by: jility | October 16, 2011

The Last Day in Heaven (at least for now)

Back in the port of Barcelona

Check one huge item off my “Bucket List.” For years, I have said that, before I die, I wanted to see the Mediterranean. The problem is, now that I have been there, I want to come back – AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN…

There is no place I have seen as beautiful as the Mediterranean. Not all Mediterranean places are created equal. Some are more equal than others. The best place I have seen so far? One word – AMALFI! The most beautiful place on earth; perhaps in the Universe. Now granted, I have not seen it all or experienced it all but, to date, Amalfi wins hands down. Mallorca doesn’t suck either.

I yearn to see the southern Coast of France and hope someday I do. I also want to see the Shetland Island, parts of Greece, Venice, the Canary Islands and the Azores. I have seen a lot of Central and South America as well as the Galapagos Islands (a place I wouldn’t mind visiting again). I like Hawaii but don’t have the yearning for it that I do for Amalfi.

We left the Norwegian Epic at 7:30 this morning and boarded a bus for a tour of the Montserrat monastery, high in the mountains above Barcelona. Today our guide was the opposite of Boris the Silent One. She NEVER SHUT UP!!! We learned EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING! Now, for me that is good but many fell asleep. We even got a political lesson as well as the meaning of FU@K in various dialects of  the Spanish language. For instance, in Spain, the word for catch (as in catch the bus or catch the train) is the word in Mexico that means FU@K. So, when our Chatty Cathy guide went to Mexico to visit a friend and said in, as she called it, “REAL SPANISH, let’s catch the bus,” Her mexican friend was horrified!

Our guide, evidently not realizing how uptight most older generation Americans are about he F word, went on and on about how meanings are different depending on the location. She used the F word liberally throughout her talk as she described the words that mean FU@K in one dialect but not in others. She also told us about rude words for various body parts, male and female, not normally discussed in public. It was quite entertaining but I imagine some on the bus were a bit flummoxed by it all.

Montserrat in the distance

The road up the mountain to Montserrat was as windy as any road we have taken to date. The driver, a very young man, drove confidently and with too much speed for my taste! The scenery was spectacular! The mountains, pushed up by many large earthquakes, were interesting and unusual. Some looked like figures that could walk off at any time.


We passed by a convent where the nuns live, that had the most incredible view and finally reached the monastery.

Where the nuns live

It was 9:30 on Sunday morning yet the crowds were already beginning to swell. There were young boys there arriving to study music with the monks. Our guide said that many parents are afraid that their sons will fall in love with the life of a monk and join but, she went on, that has happened only once in the past 75 years. I hope it is only the brass flute they will be blowing (sorry, I am a recovering Catholic and have a warped sense of humor about all things Catholic).

The Basilica at the monastery was magnificent. The amount of gold, marble and bronze was staggering. The statues were breathtaking and the Icons MAGNIFICENT! I have a thing for Icons. They also have what they call “The Back Madonna.” It is a statue of the Mother Mary that was shellacked to preserve it and turned her black. The line was a mile long to see her and, we were told, say a prayer and kiss or rub her hand and your prayer will be answered. It reminded me of the line to kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland.

Icons, gold and marble

As we SLOWLY made our way up the stairs to where the Black Madonna is kept, I reminded Sir Cussalot, a devout agnostic, that he was to make a wish (the same as prayer in agnostic speak) and rub the statue so it will come true. His response? “Do I rub her boobs?” ALRIGHTY THEN!

On our way to see the Black Madonna

I am sure that no matter what we prayed/wished for, it was ignored because we are much too irreverent.

The Black Madonna

Sir C refused to rub the hand because, as he so eloquently put it, “I’m not touching that thing! Everyone and their uncle touched it! GROSS!” ALRIGHTY THEN!

After I did my thing at the statue, we walked back down to the street level. On the way I lit a candle. Sir C said, as I asked for the 2.20 Euros to buy the candle, “WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO PUT THAT THING?” I explained that you don’t keep the candle, you just light it, say a prayer and leave it. “WHAT? he asked incredulously,”YOU DON’T GET TO KEEP IT???? WTF? What good is it?“ I tried to explain, then gave up and said, “Because that’s how you do it.” THen we walked along and there were some HUGE candles. Sir C said, “HEY LOOK! You could have bought one of those big ass things for a billion dollars and left it too!” ALRIGHTY THEN!

My candle is the last yellow one

The line to enter the Basilica was much too long so we went off in search of food. We ended up with a piece of bread and a salad. Being vegan is sometimes very difficult but we didn’t starve.

We boarded the bus and headed back to our hotel for the night. Our plane leaves at 6:20 in the FREAKING MORNING! That means we have to get up at 3:30! CRAP! Then we get to spend all freaking day on the plane with ZERO leg and ass room (and I am about 20 pounds fatter than I was a week ago!).

I can’t believe the trip is over. It went by much too fast. I think the minimum for a Mediterranean trip is ten days but two weeks would be even better.

Magnificent mountains of Montserrat


  1. Always so much fun to read your posts. Another one that made me chuckle! Such beautiful places… just gorgeous! We miss you here on our jility list. Hurry home so we can talk 🙂

  2. Glad I caught this post and that you had such a good time. I still love monasteries, all things iconic, chants, oh and incense too, and I can at least thank the Catholic church for that. That and all my hang ups, thankyou very much dear church.
    your sister Marge

  3. Hi Mel & Helen,

    I have enjoyed the updates on your trip ! I’m obviously getting old, because I have no desire to undertake such an adventure. But, I’m glad you guys did, and, have, apparently, enjoyed the experience !

    Mel, Huskies beat the Hell out of Colorado . . somehing like 52 to 24 ! Seahawks are on a “bye” this week !

    Have a safe trip home !


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