Black Madonna quandary

By Sharon VanDewark

A subscriber wrote about his day trip to Montserrat, Spain, to see the Black Madonna (April ’13, pg. 46). He and his companions had purchased their tickets at a tourist information office near the harbor in Barcelona, below the Christopher Columbus statue. They took a train from the Barcelona Espanya station to Montserrat.

At the end of a tour of Iberia, I flew to Barcelona for a 5-day stay, during which, on Sept. 19, 2012, I took a trip to Montserrat with Pullmantur (phone 902 09 55 12 or, outside Spain, 00 34 915 56 32 13). I had purchased my ticket via my travel agent before leaving the US.

The one-day bus excursion from Barcelona left from the Pullmantur terminal on Gran Via at 9:30 and would return at 2:30. It took an hour to travel from Barcelona to Montserrat and the same to return.

When we arrived near the Basilica at Montserrat, the Pullmantur guide explained about the church, the statue of the Madonna inside and the boys’ choir. He warned us of the huge crowd wanting to hear the boys’ choir and said that, to see the statue, we should leave as soon as the performance was finished.

I wandered around inside, taking many photos of the beautiful church, then got in line to see the Madonna. The line started in the plaza outside the church. It was super slow, but I had 1½ hours and thought that that was plenty of time.

It kept getting later and later and I still couldn’t see the beginning of the line. In the end, several of us had to pull out of the line and, like salmons swimming upstream, fight our way through the narrow, crowded passageway. It was horrible — so crowded. I raced to the gift shop and bought a postcard of the statue, then raced to the bus.

Upon returning to Barcelona, I talked to the Pullmantur manager. He said that the day before, another lady was upset because she had stayed in line to see the Madonna and did not get to see the church.

I just wanted to advise people that, on the Pullmantur day trip, they may not be able to see the church and listen to the boys’ choir AND see the Black Madonna. I was told the line is much shorter in the winter months.


San Diego, CA