Time to relax, get some sun, get sand in everything, and not worry ... too much.
We decided to try to get to the monastery at Montserrat, by train, and see what we had missed the day before. After breakfast at the local pastisseria we grabbed the camera and headed to the train station. There is a reason there are guidebooks: it keeps tourists from making dumb mistakes. We did not realize that there were two major train systems in the area in addition to the metro. There is the national Renfe system, and the regional Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, or FGC for short. In Castelldefels, not knowing better, had bought tickets to Monistrol de Montserrat on the Renfe system and that is the system we boarded in Castelldefels. We expected to get off the train in Monistrol and then ride the tram we had seen to the monastery. We changed trains at Sants Estacio in Barcelona to the (Renfe) train going to Manresa, through Monistrol, and thought all was well. After the train passed Terrassa I realized that the light for Monistrol on the station listing above the door was not lit. Sure enough, the train was not stopping in Monistrol! We were soon back in Manresa, with tickets good only to Monistrol and so could not exit the automated gates. We explained the situation to the security person at the train station, after which he told us the train for the monastery was on the other line (meaning FGC). He arranged for a taxi to take us to the 'monister', an extravagance but after striking out twice we were willing to give it a shot. The taxi ride cost us 28€ and took us to the front of the monastery. We realized that the monastery was literally just around the bend, about 100-200m, from where we had headed downhill the day before.
I knew the monastery was a zoo when we arrived to a parking lot filled with 30+ large tour buses and numerous private cars. To cut to the chase, the monastery was a serious disappointment, at least to me. Far too many people, and far too much commercial development. To get to the basilica one must go through the gauntlet of two sets of restaurants/cafeterias, a hotel, and numerous boutiques, merchants selling cheese and honey, and other money making ventures. Once you find the basilica, there is nothing left of the original exterior. The interior has some marvelous artwork and details, but by the time you can get to them you have been inundated with modern capitalism at work. The main draw in the basilica is La Morenata, a black woodcarved virgin holding an orb and with the child on its lap. You can touch, but not photograph, the statue, and there is a prayer room facing the back of La Morenata. Depressingly there is no information on the origin of the statue, and it appears that is intentional: there are rumors it was carved by Luke in the first century, and other myths that it was found in Montserrat prior to 888AD, but radiocarbon dating places it as no later than 12th century. Ambiguity about the origin allows the implausible myths to perpetuate. Other than the basilica one can visit Santa Cova, a grotto where the statue was hidden for a time, either by a long vertical hike or via a funicular. We poked around the main level for a while, then decided to catch the funicular to Monistrol and the FGC train back to Barcelona.
After negotiating FGC trains to Barcelona, the metro to Sants Estacio, and the train back to Castelldefels it was time to relax next to the pool for a while before dinner. Patricios was lifeless, still, so we ended up in the same general area as the night before for our supper. Food was alright but not great, and the wine only average.
Beach Day! After breakfast we checked out of the hotel Hesperia Castelldefels, leaving our bags and bikes there, and wandered down to buy a beach towel. It was then out onto the sand to enjoy the sun. A bit too much skin on the beach! I have no problem with topless attire on the beach, I just think that there are limits on who should engage in such behaviour. Same with speedo's on men. Too many of the wrong body types showing far too much skin for my taste. The beach was packed, the water warm enough, and the sun too bright. We had bought some fruit and water and after those supplies were exhausted we packed and headed for a local bar to get lunch. Sarah had a nice burn around half her midsection, and I had one little spot on my back; we need to be a bit more liberal with the sunscreen it seems.
We checked into the Hotel Bel Air after lunch, getting a nice room facing the beach. It had a large balcony with two deck chaise lounges, a table, and two regular chairs. We went back to the Hesperia for the bikes and bags only to be told at the Bel Air that they did not have any place to store the bikes. We ended up with them in the room, on the patio most of the time.
Patricio's struck out again; there had been much activity around lunch time at the restaurant but by dinner time it was dark and silent. So we walked down the main street along the beach and found another place for dinner. Some more paella, some more wine, and another salad featuring tuna and hard-boiled eggs. After dinner we wandered back for some rest, and to prepare to move to the hotel in Barcelona the next morning.