Leif Pettersen's Travelogue

The long-winded-niest travelogue on the internet!


Figueres, Spain

Posted on 10/15/03

Salvador Dali

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 structures.

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.

R.I.P. See?  Drawers!  Told ya!

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.

Back to the travelogue index


©Leif Pettersen 2012