Pinpoint any landmark, street name or location within central Barcelona and I shall lead you with my map. Ask me to take you via train and be prepared to spend a few hours in the hot, crowded although surprisingly spotless depths of Barcelona’s train link.
Today is the day! I had it all worked out, three Dali museums cautiously spaced out with four hours in between to allow travel, refill of fuel and relaxation. I had booked the tickets in advance as suggested during my research online, cheaper and a guaranteed access to the quirky sites.
First stop Castell Gala Dali, Dali bought this medieval castle in the village of Pubol and decorated it for his wife Gala. Gala visited and stayed here during the 1970s and is buried in in the grounds. After her death in 1982 Dali lived here permanently until a fire and possible suicide attempt, forced him to move to Figueres where he died a few years later.
A light breakfast of pastries and pressed kiwi and a quick jaunt around the famous Mercat de sta Caterina found us en route to our nearest train station, taking in the splendour of passeig Lluis Companys, Super! Until I well and truly fucked things up as we once more embark, de- train, re-train, miss our ruddy train. An hour behind schedule and we unwillingly sacrifice meeting Dali and Gala in their holiday abode.
Down beaten but not disheartened we proceed to Figueres a two hour journey through the heart of Catalonia, taking us to the foot of the Pyrenees. Our next appointment is to visit Dali at his home in Cala de Portilligat, Cadaques and luckily I find a tourist guide to point us in the correct direction.
We found ourselves on a bus with only a handful of passengers, winding our way through sleepy towns and villages, twisting upwards through the abundant mountain range. An hour or so later, my eyes full of love and admiration for my spectacular surroundings, we slowly climb down the mountain and alight perfectly within the most miraculous setting I have ever seen.
I can understand why Dali, Dechamp, Picasso and Miro had chosen Cadaques to reside, never on my travels have I witnessed the beauty of a postcard perfect town with the relaxed atmosphere and happy vibe I found there. The easternmost point in Spain, set around a remote bay of the Costa Brava, the town’s sedate waterfront and patchwork of steep, narrow streets and fisher boats will steal your heart.
I sat lazily at a beach cafe as Ruby dipped playfully in the hot Med, spending our afternoon eating, reading and relaxing before commencing our journey to house-museum Salvador Dali. Upon arrival and entering the vestibule of his home, which was transformed from seven fisherman cottages into one unobtrusive villa, we are greeted by a giant stuffed polar bear, surrounded by everyday unexciting objects such as the telephone table and I recognise my surrealist adventure has begun.
Entering each room, of course I am in awe of the art and unusual interiors but it’s the warmth of the couples relationship that still permeates through their belongings that puts a lump in my throat. Our guide is impeccable as she dictates his story in Catalan, French and English, I hold on to her every word as she explains the history of where I’m standing. To my surprise Dali painted everything sitting down, in a big white comfy armchair, he built a pulley to raise and lower his paintings to suit his position. Ruby’s favourite part was the gardens and I have to agree. We sat at the famous lips sofa and our trip was complete. Completely worthwhile.
Feeling fulfilled we board our bus back to the foot of the Pyrenees and on to Figueres, excited for our final Dali experience, Teatre Dali by night and we anticipate to see the already vibrant art lit up in the darkness of the evening hours. Passing through the main train station we realise our trip is cut short, stupidly not checking the time of the last train to Barcelona and it’s gone, stranded in the remote town I panic, frantically seeking another way home a kind bus driver rescues us and after a very broken Catalan/English discussion he drives us to a neighbouring station where we catch the fast train from Paris by the skin of our teeth.
Forfeiting another museum and another glimpse at Dali, our day never went to plan but nothing great ever does. The memories of what we did and saw that day will never fade.
Long live the VEF and Gala Dali is the muse and QUEEN!