I thought that getting from Barcelona to Montserrat for yet another day trip, that the whole thing would be a straight forward affair, but alas I am in Spain and I speak little Spanish, so nothing is every straightforward. Getting from Pep Ventura to Plaza Espana was easy enough but then trying to find the right train that takes you to Montserrat was a different story.
“Placa Espanya station is huge and has many surface entrances to the station below ground. It can be very confusing for tourists to find their way around especially as each entrance only has partial information about the lines that you will access from any particular entrance. The best advice here is just to ignore the line information displayed as you enter a surface entrance to the underground station and just enter the nearest surface entrance you can find. Once you are underground look for signs for the R5 Manresa track. You may have to walk around a little but you will find it eventually!”
You can get to the Monastery via a Cable car ride (AERI) or a train (Cremallera).
My aim was to take the Cable Car ride up to the Monastery and then back down on the train. It is very important to decide on your options,
- Do you want the Cable Ride (Aeri ticket version) to the Monastery after the train journey from Barcelona (Train Stop is Montserrat AERI)
- Do you want the Cremallera Funicular ride to the Monastery (Cremallera ticket version) – (Train Stop is Montserrat de Monistrol)
Just to explain the train from Espanya station takes you to the foot of Montserrat mountain then you have these two options: Cable car or Cremallera Funicular to actually go up the mountain to the Monastery. One needs to get off the train at different stops depending on which one you decide to take.
This goal got derailed when I engaged in conversation on the train ride with an American by the name of Doug. The conversation was interesting but became more so when he scolded a Spaniard who was lit up in the train. The Spaniards’ response to his effort was a nice flick off and encouragement for his friend to light up also. Eventually, the effort required the conductor to intervene and stop the two smokers. An older Spanish woman was sitting next to us, and we thought she was being helpful in telling us the station to get off, even though I read the sign differently, we both listened to her, and ended up getting off at the wrong station. My stop was the Montserrat AERI and he was supposed to get off at Monistrol but I got off at Monistrol and obviously he ended up going even farther along.
Having been left at the Monistrol station by myself, I had free rein of the place for a while. The conductor left the station and went home for 25 mins in a truly Trinidadian move. The other curious sight was a working coal fired train going to another town from Monistrol. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve seen a coal fired train.
The moral of the story : Know that there are two options for getting up to Montserrat. Pick your options and the rest should be easy after that.