During our stay in Barcelona, John and I decided we wanted to spend some time rock climbing in the Catalonia. For our climbing destination, we chose Montserrat.
John packed up our climbing gear in the morning and we caught the train to Montserrat. It’s easy to get there, as Montserrat is about a 45 minute train ride outside of Barcelona, which makes it a perfect day trip. Since we only checked one bag for gear, John looked ridiculous carrying all the gear in a huge bag on his back. I looked pathetic carrying only my tiny orange backpack.
Monserrat is a great place to visit for rock climbers and tourists alike. Montserrat itself is a multi-peaked mountain. Montserrat means “saw mountain” in the Catalan language, which describes the peculiar rock formations and spires that shoot up out of the mountain. The rock itself is very unique. Classified as conglomerate, the rock is composed of many different types of rock, with everything from sandstone to limstone, all jammed into the mountainside in little chunks. John and I thought the holds were kind of like rocks sticking out of the wall of the climbing gym. A little scary climbing at times as some of the chunks really looked like they were going to break off it you grabbed it!
A very interested thing about Montserrat is that it is host to the Benedictine Abbey, a monastery located halfway up the mountain. From the main train station, you can take either a rack train or cable car up to the monastery to see it and learn about its history. (TIP: The view from the cable car is awesome!)
From the monastery, you can take a funicular further up the mountain. For those of you who don’t know what a funicular is, it is a cable car that site on a track that is dragged up really steep sloped. At the top of the funicular, there are stunning hikes that take you around the valley and allow you to visit many of the natural features of the mountain, as well as access to many climbs. Whether you are a climber or a hiker, you will be dazzled by the views of the spires, unique rock formations and stunning view of the monastery in the valley. It is almost surreal to hear the bell of the monastery ring and echo through the mountains.
John and I had a splendid couple of days climbing a few of the literally thousands upon thousands of climbs around Montserrat. Unfortunately, we never had the chance to visit the monastery as we decided not to go for our third and final day as the rack train and funicular drivers were on strike, creating massive line ups to get up to Montserrat via tram. Yes, you heard it here, the funicular was on strike!
In Barcelona, they love their tapas, and one of our favourites was patatas bravas. Crispy potatoes served with aioli and a spicy tomato sauce, this was one of our go-to tapas at any restaurant that offered them (which was most restaurants!)
I quite like this recipe, and it will definitely be a hit as an appy for your next party, or a fun side for your next dinner!
Julie’s note: Aioli and mayonnaise is the same darn thing. I used Hellman’s mayo in a squeeze bottle to make the beautiful squiggly pattern, but when you serve it, just call it aioli instead of mayonnaise as it will make you seem way trendier to your hipster guests!
Ok, I lied. My friend Alie deserves full credit for the beautiful Hellman’s aioli squiggle in the photos!
Other posts in this series:
Part 1: Barcelona, Spain and Stove=Top Chicken and Sausage Paella
Part 3: Rome, Italy and Pasta Carbonara
Part 4: Florence, Italy and Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)
Part 5: Croatia, The Dalmatian Coast and Pasticada
Click here for the printable Word version of recipe:
Large red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces.
Salt and pepper
- Parboil potatoes in salted boiling water for 5-10 minutes.
- Before serving, shallow fry potatoes in oil with salt and pepper until they are both crispy and tender. Be careful when you fry as the pan likes to spit!
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 chilies, minced
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-14 oz can stewed whole tomatoes, drained
Mayonnaise for serving
- Heat oil in pan. Add onion, cook until tender. Add garlic and chilies, cook for a few minutes. Add paprika and salt.
- Add tomatoes, vinegar and contents of pan into a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Put sauce in pot to heat before serving.
To serve patatas bravas, drizzle potatoes with tomato bravas sauce and mayonnaise. Alternatively, you can serve with either sauce on the side as a dipping sauce.
Tip: if you have a squeeze bottle for your mayo it looks much nicer when served