Swimming in the Mediterranean
Dali Museum in Figueres
Drive to Girona
A couple of observations about Spanish hotels. Every hotel we’ve been in other than the Travelodge which was bare bones has had exactly three closets, two for hanging clothes and one with drawers in it, a desk with flatscreen TV (which we’ve never turned on), and an ass-washing station in the bathroom. It’s remarkable uniformity across several price levels, cities, and types of accommodation. Also, there are no washcloths in this country. I wouldn’t have even noticed this but corwin uses one and he finds it annoying. Fortunately, there is often a small towel provided for the ass-washing station, and he’s been using that.
Got up this morning and Kate swam in the Mediterranean, while corwin and I just waded, having not remembered bathing suits. The beach has very coarse sand and lots of interesting pebbles of many colors and types of minerals, as well as many skipping rocks. After our dip in the sea, we packed up and turned our attention to, what else, food. At 11:30 it was after breakfast at the hotel and the lunch service didn’t start until 1:30. We wanted to be on the road by then, so we walked down by Carme’s restaurant where there are other little shops. So we had a picnic by the water instead: Fresh-baked bread and sweets from a bakery, freshly slices ham and olive loaf and a hard cheese from a charcuterie/butcher, and tuna, olives, white asparagus, tomato juice, chocolate milk, and black truffle potato chips from a small grocery. One moment of comedy in the butcher shop when I was trying to get only 50 grams of Iberian Ham, not 100, and couldn’t remember the word for 50, and the closest I could get was 43. Why 43? Because we drink a lot of Licor Cuarenta y Tres (the vanilla liqueur) at home.
Then we got on the road to Figueres to see the Dali museum. There are three Dali museum sites in this area, I think including his childhood home, and it would have been neat to see Cadaques, which is in so many of his paintings. But that was farther, and in Figueres is the big museum that Dali himself built.
The Dali Museum is described in the brochure as “the largest Surrealistic object in the world.” It definitely has Dali’s sense of absurd showmanship. The museum is built on what was a theater smack dab next to the church where Dali was baptized. The theater was bombed out during the war, so it became a perfect site to build a museum.
Interestingly enough, most of Dali’s really mind-blowing works are, of course, not here, because they were bought long ago by collectors. The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a much more impressive collection of his masterworks and well-known works. But this museum has an eclectism that reflects Dali himself, including some amusing installations like the living room that turns into a face when viewed from above, and also a moving series called Aliyah which was a large series of color lithographs on the independence of Israel.
There were also works by other painters who seemed highly influenced by Dali, Valles — whose paintings involving the sky and tiny tacks (yes, tacks) filled a whole hallway, and Pinxot — whose thing seemed to be painting piles of rocks that looked like women, including some that were meant to be quoting famous paintings.
The worst part about the Dali Museum is how damn crowded it was. There were giant tour groups of 30+ people, with tour guides speaking Russian, Greek, French, etc… and it’s not a spacious museum. It has lots of nooks and crannies and hallways. It was the complete opposite of our visit to the Museum of Music in Barcelona, where we were almost the only people there
There is also a special exhibit going on right now of jewelry and gems designed by Dali that was quite amazing, including things like a pomegranate-seed heart made of rubies that beat. I’ll post some photos later. Some I couldn’t photograph with the iPhone because the light was so bright and the glare off the gems so intense.
We spent several hours looking into every nook and cranny and then were very tired, so we paused to refresh ourselves at a tapas bar called Servits, which described itself as “gastro tapas.” We only ordered six small plates but as it turned out we ordered so many rich things that we barely finished. I think we all felt we needed a break from the large meals we’ve been having. Even though that was only 7pm (dinner time in Spain is more like 10pm, so that was merely a snack) we decided we probably weren’t going to try to get another meal once we got to Girona. (Around 11pm we did go down to the hotel bar for a drink and corwin had a grilled chicken and vegetables sandwich.)
We went to bed early and I’m typing this the next morning as corwin and Kate are sleeping in. I slept nine hours already and they’re getting some extra. We’ve been doing so much we needed the rest! Today we’ll explore Girona until sundown and then drive to Olot where we have a 9pm dinner reservation at Les Cols.