Thursday, April 26, 2012

Figueres and Salvador Dali

04/25, Wednesday
Our first day in Spain! This is our tenth country in our travels. Today promises to be warm without rain, but windy. Our hotel is several blocks from the "Rambla" and the museum, but it is a pleasant walk and we are anxious to experience a bit of Spain.

Figueres is an upscale city (25,000 people), sophisticated and very orderly. It is in the state of Catalonia, or Catalunya. Walking the streets into the old town is similar to some streets in Chicago, minus the traffic and honking cars. The Ramblas leads into the old town. It is a formal 2-block pavilion with benches and trees and a wide area for strolling (rambling?).

We stop for coffee and I have a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice that really tasted good. Then onto the tourist center where we get information and plot out our day.

The Dali Theatre Museum is our first stop and it is so unique and enjoyable. The museum itself is a work of art and Dali personally designed it to showcase his life's work. Through his years (1904-1989) he was labeled many things from arrogant to greedy to a clown, but your appreciation for his talent grows enormously as you tour the museum. He certainly was a free spirit and a self-promoter. His work can be disturbing, intriguing, erotic and playful, but all done with great creativity. Dali made one room a tribute to Mae West and her red lips are a soft red sofa and gold drapery for hair. Got to see it to appreciate it !

I think I have found my new favorite artist. Move over Mestrovic. Move over Toulouse. These guys were all great artists, but Salvador knew how to self-promote. He had a big ego, and he had an unusual sense of humor.

Dali had a unique way of describing his works. One really struck me as very odd and funny, but then a docent came by and gave me an explanation. He was hospitalized at one point and a nurse was trying to show her expertise in playing the cello and his painting of this situation was described as "bed and two bedside tables ferociously attacking a cello". Along with a huge ego he definitely had a great sense of humor.

Dali's wife, Gala, is featured in much of his art and she is credited in keeping him from serious depression and truly going over the edge. They lived in the States for several years during WW11.

The Dali's Jewels is an exhibit next door and just as fascinating. He certainly mastered many different medias. This showed sketches and paintings of jewelry Dali designed and then the actual pieces jewelers made from his "visions", like rubies for lips and pearls for teeth. The breathing heart was really something !

In between exhibits we had a great lunch outside at a tapas cafe. I am now hooked on olives stuffed with anchovies and we both really liked Rioja wine. We have moved into another culture with ease.

It's along trek uphill to the Castell de Sant Ferran, a 17th century fortess above the city. It is the largest monument in Catalonia. Much of it is in good condition. It was in use until 1965 as a state armory. Parts of it were bombed in 1939 at the end of the Spanish civil war to destroy armaments. The design and layout remind me of Fort Ticonderoga in New York. (Remember the model we made, Matt, when you were in middle school?)

It is pentagonal in shape with five redoubts. We learned that each redoubt provided protection to the adjacent redoubt, but not for itself. It had capacity for 500 horses to be tended, housed, and fed in long halls beneath the fort. Their accommodations were pretty comfy for an important part of the defense. The fort's location was significant to defend against attacks across the Pyrenees from France.

We figure we walked at least 8 miles today...less than 400 steps though. So we treated ourselves to a nice dinner of paella and Zifar Ribera del Duero 2005 wine. Sandy was disappointed in the preparation and lack of important ingredients..."not nearly as good as Sherri's!" I agree on both counts.

No comments:

Post a Comment