HEAVEN ON EARTH

While planning my vacation to Barcelona, Spain, a friend recommended that I take a day trip to Montserrat, which is a mountain range about an hour drive from Barcelona. On top of the mountain is a Benedictine Abbey and a basilica (Santa Maria de Montserrat), which was founded in the 10th century and continue to operate to this day with less than a hundred monks. The place has become a major tourist attraction as well as a pilgimage site for young Barcelonians who hike overnight to watch the sunrise from the heights of Montserrat. On the day of my visit, it started raining in Barcelona and our tour guide warned us that it may get foggy in the mountains so visibility may not be good. I was feeling disappointed during the drive as I was looking forward to photographing the rock formations around the monastery and throughout the range. When we arrived at the abbey there was fog all over the place, however, I was still able to partially see the rock formations and realized that the fog made the whole place look like we were in heaven…it was a breathtakingly beautiful sight. As the day went by, the fog started lifting exposing more gorgeous rock formations driving me wild with my iPhone’s camera. My biggest regret that day was leaving behind my DSLR in the hotel and using my iPhone instead. Photos would have been more gorgeous had I used my DSLR. Anyway, here are a few photos I took during my trip to Montserrat, which in literal translation means “saw mountain” as it looks like a handsaw from a distance.

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CHURCH OF ST. BERNARD DE CLAIRVAUX

I discovered this old church/monastery in North Miami, Florida while waiting for my Filipino friends for lunch. The restaurant was just across the street from the church and with Filipinos being fashionably late, I decided to use my waiting time to explore the compound. I learned that this church was originally built in 1133 in Sacramenia, Northern Spain and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1925, William Randolph Hearst bought it and had it dismantled stone by stone then shipped to the United States in 11,000 crates. It was again bought by two entrepreneurs who wanted to turn it into a tourist attraction taking them 19 months to rebuild the entire church. In 1953 Time Magazine called it “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history”.

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