Posted on 10/15/03
In a last minute splash of brilliance, 30 minutes before I was
to leave to catch my train to Figueres, I decided not spent the night there
and instead do a balls-out day trip instead. Many things contributed to this
moment of clarity. First, I wasn’t ready to part with my beloved Casa
de Huespedes and the countless fine dining options within 15 minutes of its
hateful stairs. I also started to panic a little about the accommodations
situation in Figueres. I remember staying in a crappy, mostly empty, far flung
hostel in ’94 that was a debilitating hike away from both the train
station and the Dali museum. Then when I went out on the internet to try to
reserve a bed at said hostel, I couldn’t find it. Finally, I was thinking
ahead to my trip to Andorra. Something deep inside me told me that to get
from Figueres to Andorra, I would be forced to travel back into Barcelona
to catch a connecting train/bus. Suddenly the prudent thing to do was to keep
my ass - and more importantly my burdensome luggage - at the top of those
steps in Barcelona.
The decision ranks up there with some of my all time brilliant
decision of the entire trip. Figueres was uglier than I had remembered. Narrow
streets, choking in exhaust fumes, scooters without mufflers screaming through
the city and guys standing in doorways doing nothing and laying mad dog looks
on everyone passing by. It sucked ass. I miraculously got all the way to the
museum without a map or serious help. My memory vaguely guided me in the right
direction from the train station until I started seeing streets signs that
guided me the rest of the way. Once you get close enough, finding the Dali
museum is easier than finding your mouth with a fork. Even a directionally
challenged person like myself knows when he’s getting warm with that
giant globe thing on the roof looming over the architecturally boring adjoining
Salvador Dali was a world class weirdo. Some people find him
to be a bit egocentric and full of self-adulation. True, many of his pieces
feature images of himself or his name, but when the material is as freaky
and fun as his work was, a little self-love and a mustache twisted straight
up in the air doesn’t bother me much. I’m about as knowledgeable
about art and art history as a dead armadillo, but I know what I like and
I like Dali. Aside from using himself and his wife in an excessive number
of his paintings, he was a big fan of melting clocks and drawers coming out
of people’s bodies. He also had a real knack for sculptures and strange
- and unfortunately un-photographable - three dimensional, rotating holograms.
The one with Alice Cooper is a must-see.
The big surprise of the tour comes while you are going through
the galleries in the basement. You’re just moving along, looking at
pencil sketches of disjoint bodies and stuff and you round a corner and bam,
there’s the man’s crypt! Goodbye fun, upbeat mood! Still, for
a guy who liked himself so much, it probably shouldn’t have come as
such a surprise to see his burial chamber next to numerous self-portraits.
Some French charter company appeared to have gone out and gathered
together the 50 most hyperactive kids and the 30 rudest adults in France,
stuffed them into a bus for 14 hours and then cut them loose in the museum.
The kids were running around, screaming, playing hide and seek and just generally
losing their minds. The adults were totally nonplused to this behavior as
they were too preoccupied with cutting in front of lines of people and walking
up and planting themselves right in between you and the piece you were trying
to look at. By about half way through the exhibits I was ready to kick some
major Frog ass. Finally, for the sake of my blood pressure, I veered off into
a rest area and let them all pass by and didn’t continue with the tour
until they had long since disappeared from eyesight and earshot.
I was feeling a little gypped as I completed the tour through
the museum. Many of the exhibits that I remembered seeing in ’94 were
gone and pieces by other artists were in their places. If I had wanted to
see pieces by these people I would have gone to their effing
museums! After encountering touring Dali exhibits in Bruges, Belgium and Barcelona,
my assumption was that they had pulled down some of the best stuff to send
off on the tours. Stupid touring Dali exhibits.
I hoofed it back to the train station to catch the 4:30 train
back into Barcelona. I jumped onto the train, breathless, with two minutes
to spare. We moved about seventy-five feet before the train stopped and we
sat on the tracks for over an hour while two guys tried to free a Japanese
tourist that had somehow locked herself in the toilet. Once she was free and
calmed down, we were on our way back to the big city where I would finish
the essay “Spain Part Dos” and another very expensive dinner.
Once I had all that sewn up, it was time to dive in to the biggest
tourist trap for 200 miles in any direction, Andorra.