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Thursday, May 30, 2024


Last-Minute Tour Switch
Originally, we planned to join the Barcelona city tour after our pre-trip stay at the Nobu Hotel. However, a 3.5-hour bus ride around Barcelona on our first day made the city tour redundant.
Instead, we opted to join our cousins who had signed up for a 4.5-hour tour to Montserrat. We went on standby, waiting by the bus until 10:30, when two seats became available. Joining this tour turned out to be a fantastic decision.
The bus ride to Montserrat took less than 45 minutes and ended at a train station. From there, our group boarded a train that climbed steeply through the mountains to a quaint town and abbey.
When we got to the mountaintop, our first destination was the restroom. The line for the women’s room was 30 deep and the men’s room had no line. I went into the men’s room, and there was no one in there, and there were eight empty stalls. I went back outside and told the women who were waiting in line, for a women’s room that only had two stalls to go into the men’s room.
They initially declined, but I insisted, and one brave woman went in.
I told them that it wouldn’t be a problem because they’re going to be inside a stall, and it’s the men who are using a urinal who would possibly be uncomfortable. I said that in Boston, they have restrooms like this. It shouldn’t be a problem. 
Then I told them that I’d check again because they wanted to know if any men were in there and I came back out and I said I’m pretty sure there are no men in there, but I can’t guarantee it because one man might be in one of the stalls. Then one man walked out! Everyone was shocked and started laughing, but I said no he didn’t come out of the men’s room. He came out of the nearby back room for the workers.
Then I checked again, and the coast looked clear, so more of the women piled into the men’s room. 
The tour included a selection of educational videos about the area's history and the natural processes that formed the striking rock landscapes. The abbey is home to monks and young boys who study academic subjects in the morning and focus on music in the afternoon. Known for their choir, these boys learn two instruments and sing as part of a renowned boys' choir, returning home on weekends.
During the tour, we sampled four types of liquor: hazelnut, aromatic, walnut, and cream. I particularly enjoyed the walnut liquor, purchasing some to enjoy with tea back on the ship, much to my cousins' amusement.
While waiting to tour the Basilica, we stumbled upon a wedding, complete with Roman reenactors. A humorous moment ensued when a Roman centurion was asked to take a photo; I captured this amusing scene of him photographing the wedding.
The Basilica itself was stunning, adorned with intricate wall and ceiling art and sculptures. At the front, we encountered the rare black Madonna. Tradition suggests touching her orb brings luck or answers prayers—I wasn't sure which, but I touched it regardless.

The return to the ship was smooth. Later, at tea time, I enjoyed the walnut liquor in my tea, and our final night in Barcelona was celebrated with a delicious paella dinner on Spanish night.