Figueres and the Dali Museum

Saturdays are for...day trips!  And it was a doozie!

We had originally hoped to take a weekend sojourn after moving into the piso, but the excitement and exhaustion of getting settled proved to be too much to manage along with planning logistics for a mini-adventure.  So we opted for a day trip instead!  Aside from the great Mondernist Gaudi, Surrealist Salvador Dali is an incredibly famous artist who lived very close to Barcelona.  His museum in Figueres is only a short train ride away and is supposedly one of the must-see attractions in Catalunya.  So off to the train station we went!

Buying train tickets was quite the comedy.  There were kiosks all around the train station (RENFE) that we thought we could use to purchase our ride (ida y vuelta = roundtrip), but it turned out that they were only there for retrieving tickets previously reserved online or over the phone.  So after dividing and conquering in various lines and asking the Spanish-speaking customer service woman, we finally deduced that we needed to be in the "media distancia" (medium distances) line.  After a short wait, we were each holding tickets for the Figueres train.  They pointed us to the 13/14 platform, and we headed down to wait.  We had gotten to RENFE around 12:15pm, and the train was scheduled to leave at 1pm.

Little did we know that there were various trains we could actually catch.  When we arrived on the platform and studied the schedule, it appeared that our train was leaving at 12:45pm instead of 1pm.  What we didn't realize was that the different trains make different stops.  The train above that we took to Figueres was a regional train that made A LOT of stops.  I think the entire journey ended up being 2 1/2 hours or more.  If we had waited just 15 minutes longer, there was an express train leaving at 1pm that arrives in about 1 1/2 hours.  No pasa nada.  That's how you learn around here, by doing it the wrong way.

We thought we were smart by sitting in these seats facing one another in order to have more legroom and space to spread out.  However, the train got fuller and fuller at each stop and we ended up both sitting in the window seats with a couple with a baby sitting in the aisle seats.  He was Canadian and she was Brazilian, and their 10-month-old daughter Margerie was quite the energetic wiggle worm.  It really didn't bother us though.  We had fun playing with the baby and meeting this truly international couple.

At last we arrived at Figueres!  It's a very small town, so we felt comfortable just studying the map hanging in the train station and setting out for the Dali museum.  Tylor, Shab and Chelle braved some food from the bus station across the plaza, and Brian and I instead ventured toward the museum to find something else to eat.  It was during the siesta when we arrived, so we didn't end up finding a restaurant that was open until we arrived at the museum.  We quickly scarfed down a pizza and fries from a little place right next door to the Teatre Museu Dali.  We thought eating from the bus station might be a little bit shady, but I was the one who ended up getting an upset stomach from the food we ate instead.  :(

Brian and I stumbled upon this cool statue en route to the museum.  We had ducked into an alley to find food, and instead found this!  The yellowish building behind it was some sort of theater.

We also wandered past this hotel called the Hotel Plaza Inn on the street up to the museum.  I absolutely had to stop for a photo op with this clown.  Brian thinks it's creepy. Ha!

This church was in the plaza directly behind the museum.  Brian loved this work of art on its wall.

Dali had a very interesting, sometimes twisted point of view.  These odd statues were just the tip of the iceberg for all the cool stuff we were to see inside!

Even the outside of the museum walls itself were a sight to be seen!  The building housed the town's theater when Dali was a child but was bombed in the Spanish Civil War.  Finally in the 1960s, Dali and the Figueres mayor decided to restore the building as a gallery in honor of Dali's works.  Dali decorated the building with loaves of bread and large eggs balanced atop the walls, and the doors officially opened in 1974 with continuing expansions.  According to the literature on the museum, it is the largest concentrated collection of Dali's work, much of it from his own collection.

There were 22 rooms in all, each representing a different period or collection of Dali's art.  Even though they were numbered from 1 to 22, the guide map suggested that the very "Dali" thing to do would be to NOT view them in order.  Brian and I didn't read this until the very end when we had actually already meandered through the museum out of order.  So we felt better about our appropriately surreal tour.

Due to our extra-long train ride, we arrived in Figueres at about 3:15pm.  By the time we got a bite to eat and made our way up to the museum, it was almost 4pm.  Since it closed at 6pm, we only had about 2 hours to wander the halls and enjoy his works.  I'm not much of a museum gal myself, but I could have spent twice as much time in there at least.

This work took up the entire 4-story wall of the main atrium area of the museum. Notice the chairs at the bottom of the shot.  That should give you some perspective on the size.

Dali used so many media, it was just mind-blowing.  Brian and I debated the whole time whether or not he was on drugs or if his creative mind really just worked this way.  I haven't done the research to find out, but the jury's still out for me.  Hope that isn't disrespectful to his genius in some way.

See the famous Abraham Lincoln painting above?  It was probably 8-10 feet tall.

Here's a closer shot where you can see the individual cubes that make the whole.  Crazy how from far away it actually looks like Honest Abe, huh?

We absolutely adored the courtyard just outside these large picture windows.  The vantage point for this photo is just inside the large atrium where the 4-story curtained art and the above work were housed.

This photo is taken through a magnifying glass about as large as your face from atop a set of stairs.  The glass was hanging from a camel (yep) and pointed so you could view the entire room.  The lips are actually a couch.  The nose is a large piece of furniture fashioned with fireplaces, and the eyes are works of art hanging on the wall, all in a huge living room.  The face is supposed to resemble Mae West, a famous actress at the time.

See the actual layout of the room?  Cool, huh?  Just to the left beyond the huge hair thing is the camel I was talking about.  I had a photo, but it turned out really blurry.  You literally climbed stairs to the height of the top of the hair to look down through the magnifying glass to see the sight of the face I captured in the photo above.  What a crazy, cool perspective, right?  I'm blown away by this guy.

Although this looks like a painting, it was actually a 3-dimensional statue.  Dali LOVED him some faces.  It was honestly pretty spooky in a lot of ways.

Aside from the uniqueness of the pieces, you wouldn't know that they all belonged to one artist.  You could see definite phases in his works and varying media.  I captured a photo posted a little farther below, but I adored his "stone" phase.  I don't know if that's the actual name, but it's my label for it.  :)

This gorgeous, green flamingo scene was only viewable through a hole in the wall.  I actually put my camera up to the wall, just as you would your eye, so you could see it how Dali wanted you to see it.  Mr. Surreal.

There were definitely a lot of religious nods with the crosses used in some of his works.  I love this shot because you can see me and Brian.  I think ol' Salvador would have been proud. 

These pieces were almost psychedelic, with a holographic type finish on them.  The side two were hung at an angle so the three works seemed to chase you when you moved your head.  So many of Dali's works were interactive and all about your point of view.

This is one of Dali's most famous works, The Persistence of Memory.  His use of oozing clocks is apparently a nod to Einstein's theory that time is relative and not fixed.  He was reportedly looking at a melting block of Camembert cheese when he got the idea.

I have no idea of the significance but the human form is almost always altered in his paintings.  Especially heads.  I never got bored looking at what he created where the faces should be.

One of Brian's favorites....

Many of the works inside the museum were automated by coin operation.  Brian put one euro in this work to see the colorful banner above expand over a cross.  We were a little perplexed as to the meaning, but it was cool nonetheless. 

Loved this.  You seriously need at least a few minutes for each piece to see even a fraction of the detail.

From the outdoor courtyard.  I loved how the water was oozing off the bottom of the suspended boat in big blue droplets.

Through the window of the car that was directly below the ship above.  Again, use of the mannequins, spooky!

From this vantage point, it looked like the ship's shadow was what had cracked the skull of the huge painting inside.  It was pretty trippy.

Dali made good use of the female form in many of his works, and this voluptuous statue was no exception.

Yep, bird with human legs. 

These Oscar-esque mannequins peered out over the courtyard.

The "stone" phase I mentioned earlier.  Dali had a whole series of these paintings.  I LOVED these paintings.  To me it symbolized the opposition of something as soft as a woman's curvaceous body comprised of something as jagged and hard as stones.  They were mesmerizing to me.

Who knows.  Just liked it.

Another crazy giant face!  If you look closely the nose is made out of a decapitated baby doll.  Umm hmmm.

Brian loved the multi-media aspect of this painting.  It was housed in a separate area with some of the jewelry Dali had designed.

Stairwell of mirrors....

I counted at least 13 Brians in this photo...

And 7 Kaylas...

Jewels!  Dali's jewelry was meant as a nod to Renaissance times, when it wasn't the value of the stones that was coveted, rather the craftsmanship of the jeweler.  Somehow I imagine his stones weren't too cheap though.

This heart was the absolute highlight!  The red part was actually beating!!  Shab took a video on her camera.  It was so understated, so unexpected, and so unforgettable.

Getting a little surreal with my camera in honor of Dali.  ;)  That's Brian walking through the jewelry part of the museum.  The arrows on the ground were projected from lights on the ceiling.

I think it's so incredible the breadth of his work.  He must have tinkered with anything he could put his hands on.

This photo is supposed to be vertical, but my blog wasn't cooperating.  Can you see the arms and legs fondling this gorgeous purple stone?  Love, love, love.  I wish I could rock this necklace.  I'm sure there was probably one in the gift shop for a ga-billion euro.

And finally...Dali's famous skinny legged elephant.  It was everything I imagined and more!

I have to say that it's been really enjoyable being here almost ten years after my first study abroad experience.  I chuckle looking back at my photos from 2002, which were mostly of me and my friends at various bars or on the beaches.  Nevermind if there was some beautiful statue or monument that happened to crowd our photo.  And now here I am, absolutely enamored with the art, the architecture and the ambience.

Journeying to Figueres was admittedly a little tiresome and quite the journey (even for a short trip) after a long week, but I'm so happy to have had the experience.  To me it was kind of like the Alhambra.  It's one of those things that you know you'll be glad you saw, but it almost takes stepping away from it and reflecting to realize how much you savored the experience.  I'm looking forward to seeing the Dali museum again sometime, maybe with a visitor during our time here or on another trip to Spain in the future.  Either way, I'm super excited to add it to the list of things that etched another impression on my creative self.

Today Brian and I spent a lazy Spanish Sunday.  We meandered down the street to Alsur Cafe for the brunch special and picked up a few veggies on our way home to cook for dinner.  It's been tempting to ignore my body and just go, go, go everyday.  After all, there's so much to see, and we're here for such a short time.  But I'm infinitely grateful that I'm at the point in my life when I know when to just let myself be. And today was one of those days.  Sleep late.  Comfy clothes.  No schedule.

So in honor of my zen day today, tomorrow I've elected for no plans.  We're going to let the fun unfold organically.  Maybe see some sights.  Maybe not.  Maybe we'll just spend some more time shopping for this beautiful (cheap!) Spanish produce and cook another live-giving meal. We'll see!

Spain or no Spain, my life without work has been such an incredibly indescribable blessing.  I cannot express more fully how fulfilling it has been to live without the demanding expectations of false pressures and self-created deadlines.  I'm exhaling.  I'm wiggling my toes and fingers and feeling the tingle of the creative Kayla that has been asleep in this stressed shell of a person.

Wooooo-saaaahhhh.

Feels good.