Heading into the Big Badalona Woods

The other day, I headed straight to Sants Estacio to make my way to Badalona. It’s a municipality just North-East of Barcelona, check out the map below for the exact location.

Once I had arrived, my initial intention was to just walk straight up north into the large green area. I was going to take the path northwest to Montcada I Reixac and take the train back.

Oh, but things never go as planned. This I learnt all too well, that one fine day. The journey that was going to be about two hours became more like nine. Worth it though!

Parc de Montigalà

When you come out of the station at Badalona, there’s a suggestion of a hike that you can take. The hike leads you to through the city and then to the  mountain range. So I took this route and found my first stop in Parc de Montigalà.

Walking through the park was like most parks really, quiet, full of nature and just rather peaceful.

When I had walked through to the other side, I found myself in a mix of a retail park and a industrialised looking area. I headed into the shopping centre and had a bite to eat, read by book, and carried on my merry way.

Attempting to follow my original route proved a little challenging. Roads weren´t where they should be, others turned out to be uncross-able motorways. However with a little determination, to at least find the entrance, I altered my course. Finally I walked through some residential area and at the other end… voilà!

Parc de la Serralada de Marina

This area of land contains vasts spans of views, various ruins and buildings and numerous other sights.  My first port of call was Creu de Montigalà which is a cross at the top of a hill. From this point you can start to plan where you might want to walk to next.

 

Ca L´Alemany is the direction I headed. It´s an old farmhouse located in the valley of Bethlehem and St. Jerome. This is a great spot to just sit and take a rest, have a read and also to take some self-portraits.

When I had sufficiently taken in the ruins, I headed up towards the Monastery known as  Sant Jeroni de la Murtra to see what all the fuss was about.

As I made my way in that direction, I had not seen one person, just heard the tweeting of birds and the rustle of leaves in the wind.

I steadily got closer and closer until I heard the rather melodic tune of the tower bells playing. There was also a group of children seemingly on a school trip, people going on their midday run and cyclists starting their route through the mountains. I had suddenly found civilisation.

 

After this point, I had a decision to make:

  • Carry on along the path in front, explore some more and see what I can find
  • Try and find another route back to the station
  • Turn around and walk back on the same route I came

I chose the first. And I saw so much.

 

Monestir de Pedralbes

This post is about a monastery, the monastery of Pedralbes or as the locals know it, those that know of its existence that is, Monestir de Pedralbes.

The Church

I found out about this place through my trusty navigator, Google Maps. It’s a useful tool when you know you want to explore somewhere new in your area but are not sure where to go. I just look in an area I haven’t been before, make sure it’s a reasonable distance in relation to the time I have to spare then see if there’s a little brown icon that indicates a landmark of sorts. Give it go yourself!

If you’re thinking about exploring your area, it’s also fun to get a metro/underground/subway map and just head to the end of the line, then walk around.

Anyway, the map above indicates where I went! This time Sarah accompanied me on this exploration, in case you’re wondering who that lady is! Follow her on Instagram right here.

Awe struck Sarah

We took the metro to Palau Reial and walked up the hill to the  mountain, if you have time though, it’s worth having a walk around the park by the station, Parc de Pedralbes. It’s greenery and fountains, and if you pick a good day, there will be a festival of sorts going on.

It’s about a 22 minute walk (according to Google), from the metro stop to the monastery. When you get there, you can walk around for free around the area and see the brickwork and some archways, but it’s not really worth going there without going in. From a lack of research and an impromptu visit, the day we went there was not a free entry day. However, it was a special festival day meaning it was free!

The outside

Sundays after 3pm are usually free in case you were wondering. Also, it’s important to turn up at a time when it’s actually open.  Taken from their website, see below:

From Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Last access at 1.30 p.m.)
Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Last access at 4.30 p.m.)
Holidays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Last access at 1.30 p.m.)

Prices, discounts, free entry and more detailed opening times can be found on their site by clicking here. Probably best to check these before heading over there.

The Cloister

Upon entry, you find yourself in the cloister, it’s the central structure of which the monastery is built around. With two galleries and 26 columns on each side, it’s considered the world’s largest Gothic cloister. It’s like entering a secret garden that is perfect for just sitting, wondering and reading.

Finding good reading spots

With various parts of this space cut off due to repairs or refurbishments, it was a little bit of a maze wondering if we were walking in the right direction, and if you spend a few hours there you’d probably be able to figure it out. There’s various displays of artworks and historical artefacts located in the different galleries, there’s a church made in Catalan Gothic architectural style, and also an incredibly well preserved 14th Century kitchen to view too.

The Little Sculpture

Whilst doing my research on into the monastery for this blog post, I’m beginning to think we missed a number of sights that might be worth finding with the main one been St Michael’s Chapel, although this was because it’s closed until March 2018. It’s where murals dating back as far as 1343 can be found. They were made by painter Ferrer Bassa at the request of the Abbess Francesa ça Portella who wanted to make the space her own private cell. As they were protected from dust, moisture and sunlight over the centuries, they have stayed in great condition. So if you’re around after March 2018, and head to the monastery, make sure you visit that part!

To Tibidabo

Ever since re-watching episodes of Friends and seeing that one episode where Joey tells the story of how he was backpacking through Western Europe and hiking up Mount Tibidabo, it was a sort of reminder of how close I am to such amazing feats, that I must take advantage of.

Where is it?

Assuming my embedding skills are up to date, below you´ll see a map of the exact location of Tibidabo, just click on “Directions” to figure out how to get there. Heading up there we took the train up to Peu de Funicular and then the funicular up to Vallvidrera Superior, following that you can take the bus to the top or you can take a 15 minute walk and enjoy the sights along the way.

Walking up you still get views of the city of Barcelona and if you didn´t know that there was even more higher up, you might even be satisfied with just seeing them and not going any further. Fortunately for you and I, we know there´s more ahead!

Walking from Vallvidrera Superior up to Tibidabo

Generally the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Tibidabo is the large structure at the top of the mountain. It´s known as Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor.

And when you start making your way up, it´s pretty much the first thing that you notice and it’s rather amazing both in photo and in person.

What is it?

It´s a Roman Catholic Church that was built because of rumours that a protestant church and a hotel-casino  was going to be built over there. It took just under 60 years to build this feat of Neo-Gothic architecture with the building beginning in 1902 and completing in 1961.

Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor

What else is there?

Aside from the epic views and great areas to walk around, they´ve also stuck an amusement park to keep things interesting.

You don´t have to pay to be up there and walk around for most of the area but there are sections cut off to paying customers only, like some of the viewing platforms and play areas for the children. There´s more than enough though to keep you entertained and sights to see if you decide to take the free entry route. When we were up there, we just walked around and found it more than suffice in not making any purchases.

One thing I´ll especially recommend is to go up to Tibidabo for just before sunset because it´s quite simply stunning.

If you decide to head up to this place, leave your thoughts of it in the comments!