MONTSERRAT. An hour northwest of Barcelona, the mountain of Montserrat is where a wandering 9th-century mountaineer had a blinding vision of the Virgin Mary. In the 11th century, a monastery was founded to worship the Virgin, and the site has since evolved into a major pilgrimage center. The monastery’s ornate basilica is above PI. Creu. To the right of the main chapel is a route through the side chapels that leads to the 12th-century Romanesque La Moreneta (the black Virgin Mary), Montserrat’s venerated icon. (Walkway open July-Sept. daily 8-10:30am and noon-6:30pm. Nov.-June M-F 8-10:30am, noon-6:30pm, and 7:30-8:15pm. Sa-Su 8-10:30am and noon-6:30pm.) In PI. Santa Maria, the Museo de Montserrat exhibits a sweeping range of art, from an Egyptian mummy to several Picassos. (Open July-Sept. M-F 10am-7pm, Sa-Su 9:30am-7pm; Nov.-June M-F 10am-6pm, Sa-Su 9:30am-6:30pm. ‚5.30, students and over-65 ‚4.50.) The Santa Cova funicular descends from PI. Creu to paths that wind along to ancient hermitages. (Apr.-Oct. daily every 20min. 10am-6pm; Nov.-Mar. Sa-Su 10am-5pm. Round-trip ‚2.50.) Take the St. Joan funicular up for more inspirational views. (Apr.-Oct. daily every 20min. 10am-6pm; Nov.-Mar. M-F llam-5pm, Sa-Su 10am-5pm. Round-trip ‚6.10; joint round-trip ticket with the Sta. Cova funicular ‚7, students and over-65 ‚6.20.) The dilapidated St. Joan monastery and shrine are only 20min. from the highest station. The real prize is St. Jerdnim (1235m), about 2hr. from PI. Creu (lhr. from the terminus of the St. Joan funicular); after walking 45min. take the sharp left at the little old chapel.

FGC trains (932 05 15 15) to Montserrat leave from M: Espanya in Barcelona (lhr.; every hr. 8:35am-6:36pm; round-trip including cable car ‚12); get off at Aeri de Montserrat, not Olesa de Montserrat. From the base of the mountain, the Aeri cable car runs up to the monastery. (July-Aug. every 15min. daily 9:20am-6:30pm; Mar. and Oct. 9:20am-l:40pm and 2:20-6:40pm. Schedules change frequently; call m 938 77 77 01 to check. ‚4. Free with FCG.)

THE COSTA BRAVA: FIGUERES AND CADAQUES. The Costa Brava’s jagged cliffs cut into the Mediterranean Sea from Barcelona to the French border. Though rugged by name, the Brave Coast is tamed in July and August by the planeloads of Europeans dumped onto its once-tranquil beaches.

In 1974, Salvador Dali chose his native, beachless Figueres (pop. 37,000), 36km north of Girona, as the site to build a museum to house his works, catapulting the city into instant fame. His personal tribute is undeniably a masterpiece and the second most popular museum in Spain. The ISTeatre-Museu Dali is in PI. Gala. From La Rambla, take C. Girona, which becomes C. Jonquera, and climb the steps. The museum parades the artist’s erotically nightmarish landscapes and bizarre installations. (s972 67 75 00; Open July-Sept. 9am-7:15pm; Oct.-June daily 10:30am-5:15pm. Call ahead about night hours during the summer. ‚9, students ‚6.50.) Trains (902 24 02 02) run to Barcelona (2hr. 23 per day, ‚8.10) and Girona (30min. 23 per day, ‚2.40). Buses (972 67 33 54) run from PI. Estacio to: Barcelona (24hr. 2-6 per day, ‚13); Cadaques (l’ihr. 2-5 per day, ‚3.60); and Girona (lhr. 2-6 per day, ‚3.60). The tourist office is in PI. Sol. (972 50 31 55. Open July-Aug. M-Sa 9am-8pm, Su 9am-3pm; Apr.-June and Oct. M-F 9am-3pm and 4:30-8pm, Sa 9:30am-l:30pm and 3:30-6:30pm; Sept. M-Sa 9am-8pm; Nov.-Mar. M-F 9am-3pm.) Hostal La Barretina , C. Lasauca 13, is a lesson in luxury. (972 67 64 12. Singles ‚23; doubles ‚39. AmExMCV.) Postal Code: 17600.

The whitewashed houses and rocky beaches of Cadaques (pop. 1,800) have attracted artists, writers, and musicians not to mention tourists ever since Dali built his summer home here. iiiCasa-Museu Salvador Dali, Port Lligat, Dali’s home until 1982, holds with a lip-shaped sofa and pop-art miniature Alhambra. Follow the signs to Port Lligat (bear right with your back to the Statue of Liberty) and then to the Casa de Dali. ( 972 25 10 15. Open June 15-Sept. 15 daily 10am-8:15pm; Sept. 16-Nov. and Mar. 15-June 14 Su and Tu-Sa 10am-5:10pm. Tours are the only way to see the house; make reservations 1-2 days in advance. Ticket office closes 45min. earlier. ‚8, students ‚5.) Buses arrive from: Barcelona (2Mihr. 11:15am and 4:15pm, ‚16); Figueres (lhr. 5-7 per day, ‚4); and Girona (2hr. 1-2 per day, ‚7). With your back to the Sarfa office at the bus stop, walk right along Av. Caritat Serinyana; the tourist office, C. Cotxe 2, is off PI. Frederic Rahola, opposite the passeig. (s972 25 83 15. Open July-Aug. M-Sa 9:30am-l:30pm and 4-8pm, Su 10:30am-l:30pm; Sept.-June M-Sa 9am-2pm and 4-7pm.) Postal Code: 17488.

THE COSTA D0RADA: SITGES. A mecca of gay-nightlife, the town of Sitges is perhaps better seen as a night-trip from Barcelona rather than as a day trip. The beaches are roomy and often afford more space than the crowded sands of Barceloneta, but Sitges is more about the party than the tan. The place to be at sundown is Calle Primer de Maig (which runs directly from the beach and Pg. Ribera) and its continuation, Calle Marques Montroig, off C. Parellades. Bars and clubs line both sides of the small street, blasting pop and house from 10pm until 3am. Wide-open and accepting, the clubs welcome a vibrant mixed crowd of gay people, straight people, and the occasional drag queen. There’s no cover anywhere, making for great bar- and club-hopping. Beers at most places go for about ‚3, mixed drinks ‚6. Even crazier is the disco-beach Atlantida, in Sector Terramar (a 938 94 26 77; foam parties on Th and Su nights), and the legendary Pacha, on Pg. Sant Didac in nearby Vallpineda f 938 94 22 98). Buses run all night on weekends to the two discos from C. Primer de Maig. Other popular nightspots can be found on Calle Bonaire and Calle Sant Pau, but most open only on weekends.

RENFE trains (934 90 02 02) run from Sitges to Barcelona (40min. every 15-30min. 5:20am-ll:50pm, ‚2.20). For a good free map and info on accommodations, stop by the tourist office, Sinia Morera 1. (938 94 50 04. Open July-Aug. daily 9am-


9pm; Sept.-June Su-M and W-Sa 9am-3pm and 4-6:30pm.) Hostal Parellades 0, C. Parellades 11, offers clean rooms and an airy terrace. ( 938 94 08 01. Singles ‚24; doubles ‚40, with bath ‚45; triples with bath ‚50. Cash only.) Izarra , C. Mayor 24, can be either a quick food fix before a long night of club-hopping. ( 93 894 73 70; open daily l:30-4pm and 8:30-llpm. MCA’1. ) Super Avui, C. Carbonell 24, has groceries. (Open M-Sa 9am-9pm.) Postal Code: 08870.


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