Our final journey back to Barcelona in DB2 (the Renault) became a tribute to one of Spain’s most famous and extraordinary artists – Salvadore Dalí. He lived nearly the same period as my mother-in-law, born in 1907, he died in 1989.
Like him or not, his art is weirdly interesting. His life, also, did not fit a conventional life style.
We started at Perpignan, where he decorated the station in bold bright colours. Modernisation of the outside has taken the edge off his colourful work, but a view of the ceiling is a joy.
To fully appreciate the Dalí Triangle we booked into a “Hotel Restaurant” a little out of the town of Roses. First time we had stayed at a “Hotel Restaurant” where the restaurant was closed. Uhh-huh, it was a drive into town to find somewhere for dinner and count the drinks!
Of course, this is Spain and this is not Summer. Whilst many businesses were closed over summer, the restaurants and bars are certainly running at half speed in November.
Portlligat & Cadaqués
A beautiful clear day dawned for our visit to Portlligat & Cadaqués. Portlligat is Dalí’s home set on the beach, near the village of Cadaqués where he grew up. He moved into a single fisherman’s hut and added to it by buying up adjoining houses. You therefore find yourself wending and winding from room to room as you discover the bedroom, the dining room and his studio. Outside is as absurd as inside with various creations on the patio and in the swimming pool area. Views to the sea were stunning, reflecting the bright colours he often used in his work.
We stopped at Cadaqués for a coffee and some contemplation before our next stop.
We drove to Figueres where, in the 1970’s, Dalí converted a burnt out theatre into a museum specifically to display his art and some of his personal art collection. The outside is decorated with loaves of bread and inside is equally eclectic. On entry you are confronted with a car with a model in it. It is raining in the car. A couple of statues are on top of the car…. The whole of the museum is surrounded by gold statues, as if in chorus to Dalí’s song.
I tried a number of times to photograph Mae West’s face and capture the eyes as I saw them, weird black and white, framed pictures – I could only capture those pictures as eyes.
As an analytical person I found his Optical Illusion studies fascinating. The exactness of his three-dimensional art so at the point you place your nose against the glass, the art is truly 3-D. The scrawly black and white art that formed Don Quixote when viewed in a mirror. The colourful “modern art” that took quite a different form when viewed in a circular mirror, a bit like a reflection in a shiny wine bottle.
And as if the Theatre Museum is not enough, around the corner is the Dalí Joies exhibition. You enter through an iron turnstile and suddenly all is dark and your perspective is lost, until your eyes focus on the dazzling cases in front of you. Extraordinary, unphotographable pieces of gold and jewels including the butterfly chalice and the famous royal heart which beats. Dalí created many of these during his self-exile to USA during the Spanish Civil War.
The next day was grey and threatening rain so we congratulated ourselves on choosing the sunniest day to visit Portlligat. We were on our way home to Badalona and on the way made two stops at Púbol and then Girona.
Púbol is the castle Dalí bought for his wife Gala. Gala herself was eccentric; a Russian lady who had married poet Eduord … then 10 years later, in 1929, met Dalí and never left his side. Dalí decorated the castle in a fashion we had now come to appreciate – eclectic. Gala accepted the gift of the castle on condition that he only visited on written invitation. That happened once, but it also became a place where Gala could receive other lovers.
When Gala died in 1982, Dalí had her buried in the crypt of the castle, and lived there by himself until he was badly burnt in a fire in his bedroom.
It is here that the famous stick-legged elephants are on display along with colourful couches, Gala‘s very sixties style dresses and medieval art mixed with his own. Hmmmm, I could have been comfortable there!
For something a little more conventional we stopped in the lovely town of Girona for a late (Spanish hour) lunch. It is home to a magnificent cathedral which was ridiculously expensive to visit and colourful houses on the sometimes water filled Riu Onyar. There is a beautiful ancient wall to walk around and an old Roma castle as well as a myriad of interesting looking restaurants. I think I would have enjoyed an evening there.
So it is home to Badalona in time to shop and stock up whilst we still have wheels. After 164 days it is time to give our wheels back and re-learn sight-seeing on public transport.