Sunday, June 09, 2013

Barcelona log (4): In search of Dali

The only organised trip which I had booked in Barcelona was a day trip in search of Dali. We were told to be at the pickup point in central Barcelona at 8:15 (we were there at 8am) but unfortunately did not leave until 9. Again, we took a taxi from the hotel to the pickup point, but it turns out that there was a metro stop about 200 metres from the point (we came back by metro and via a different station, which involved much less walking between platforms).

Once in the van, we drove for about two hours before reaching Figueres which is near the French border. This is where Salvadore Dali was born and there is a beautiful museum dedicated to him there, in what used to be a theatre. Our tour guide came into the museum with us for a few minutes, gave us a brief overview then left, leaving us to our own devices. Fortunately, our ears picked up a narration being given in Hebrew: there was an Israeli tour group who had arrived at the same time as us, and they had a very knowledgeable guide who was explaining things in great detail. So we hitched onto this group and learnt things that we would never have found out on our own. I don't know how the others in our group fared with this museum, but we had a wonderful time - especially my wife who had studied Dali when in school. We also spent a fair amount of money in the museum shop!

From the museum, we travelled further on towards France, to the village Cadaques, which is where the Dali family used to summer. The way there led through beautiful scenery, but as we were struggling to listen to the guide's commentary (she was also the driver), it was hard to concentrate both on deciphering her mangled English and enjoying the views. I decided to close my eyes so that I could better get the Dali family story.

Cadaques itself is like any other seaside town - which is not to disparage it! I was reminded of Ascona, near Locarno in Switzerland, where we spent a magical morning (although Ascona was better). We ate a lovely sole in a restaurant on the sea front, wandered around a little then rejoined the group in order to travel to the Dali summer house at Port Lligat, a few miles up the coast.

Port Lligat is a little fishing village situated on an inland bay and probably it is very pretty - the sky was very cloudy when we were there. Dali bought a summer home here, then as he became more and more famous, he bought more and more houses. The house is delightful - especially what might be termed 'the garden' (there is no grass). Inside, there is little to hint that this is the home of the most famous surrealistic painter - in fact, it was quite bourgeois - but outside, and especially at the swimming pool, there were definitely wild influences at play.

We probably would have stayed longer, but it started to rain when we were close to finishing the tour. The local guide produced a few plastic bags and gave them to us - the bags contained one time temporary raincoats, and we became - as I termed them in Locarno - plastic people. We continued to investigate outside, but our enthusiasm was somewhat dampened by the rain.

Of course, we were the last into the tourist bus; then we set off for Barcelona and arrived back at around 8pm.  Onto the metro, back into the hotel.

Thus ends the Barcelona leg of our holiday. I think that there must be a law called the conservation of serendipity: for everything that seems to go wrong, there is something that goes astonishingly right, something which we didn't expect. The two most striking examples here are Casa Batlló and meeting the Israeli tourist guide in the Dali museum. 

Tomorrow we head for London; I'm not sure whether there is wi-fi in the bed and breakfast place where we are staying in West Hampstead.

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