The monastery was beautifully perched in the hills between newly renovated million dollar homes and old cobblestone streets. It felt like we had gone back in time a thousand years.
One of my first explorations in Barcelona was to Monesterio de Pedrables, a beautiful monestary tucked away in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi (the upper middle class area of Barcelona).
This trip was our first ride on the train, rather than just the metro, so the morning was a bit more adventurous than we anticipated. After a quick ride to the northern part of the city, we saw a beautiful building in the distance and decided that it had to be the monastery. So we walked briskly, only to find out that the beautiful building was actually just a school. Thankfully, it was the weekend and there were a bunch of soccer teams playing on the field. We were able to get directions to go back to the train station and make our way to the monastery. Only in Barcelona can a school be so beautiful that you mistake it for a monastery…
The monastery was beautifully perched in the hills between newly renovated million dollar homes and old cobblestone streets. It felt like we had gone back in time a thousand years. It turns out that the monastery was actually built far away from the city, but overtime, the city of Barcelona encroached on it’s peaceful grounds, bringing with it modern homes and crowded streets.
The inside of the monastery was breathtaking, with beautiful gardens and orange trees in the courtyard, walls adorned with original fading paintings,and grandiose living quarters. The city had the charm of an older construction – staircases without rails, shorter doors because of the height difference, and small windows in rooms- with a few updated renovations to allow for electricity and a bit more comfortable living.
On our audio tour we learned that the monastery was founded in 1326 in order to protect the city of Barcelona. It’s amazing to believe that the overall structure has been able to survive so much. Imagine all of the history it’s seen!
We finished our tour around 4:30 and decided to grab some tapas. We didn’t, however, fully understand the word “siesta” at the time. After walking around for about 30 minutes in a residential neighborhood in Barcelona, we realized that it was a lost cause. Everything was closed- from the supermarket to the corner bakery. The streets were quiet and empty.
Parched and starved, we slowly made our way back to the train station, where we each bought a bag of chips. On the way back, we took note of two key aspects of studying abroad:
- Always take food and water
- And really do believe your host mom when she says the whole city shuts down for siestasI
I look back on this adventure at one of my first culture shock experiences of abroad. Life in Europe is at a much slower pace, with an emphasis on families and spending time outside of work. Siestas were seen as normal life. And on Sundays everything is closed or at highly reduced hours. Whereas in the states, I use Sunday as my catch-up day to go to the grocery store, in Spain this really isn’t an option.
Although the end of our journey to the monastery wasn’t necessarily the best, I absolutely loved exploring a new part of my new home. Cheers to making every little adventure count!