During the last few years that we lived in the US, we entered a lot of different sweepstakes, as in 400 a day. These were all online so with a push of a button we could autofill each entry form and in a few seconds we were on to the next one. As you might expect, with that many daily entries our chances of winning something were pretty high. Most mornings there would be a “Congratulations!” email announcing our latest prize which was often a candy bar, a music download, or movie tickets but every week or so we’d get gift cards, cash, or trips. One especially festive weekend we scored vacations in New York, New Orleans, the Caribbean, and Paris. By the way, we had to pay income tax on all of those, but it was worth it. Although not as popular here, there are a few sweepstakes in France and a few weeks ago Bill got one of those “Félicitations!” emails from SNCF, the national railway of France, that he’d won 2 First Class tickets to Figueres, Spain. We were off to visit the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí.
The original title of this blog post was “Night at the Museum” or more accurately “5 Nights” because we rented one of the apartments attached to the building that houses 1500 works of art by the Spanish surrealist. Unlike those movies with Ben Stiller, however, we had no midnight access to the collections but a 10-step walk put us at the front door once the Dalí Theatre-Museum opened for the day. Technically we were now inside a theater as this was once the city’s Teatro Municipal de Figueres that Dalí turned into his own showcase and his tomb can be fittingly found underneath the center stage. Rather than trying to describe all of the surrealistic art that we saw, I’ll let the photos below tell the story. The two photos above are at the entrance.
Our 11€ ticket also gave us access to the separate jewelry collection that the artist created between 1941 and 1970 plus the Empordà Museum that concentrates on regional artists including, of course, Dalí too. We even had a discount at the Toy Museum of Catalonia that includes a Steiff teddy bear that Dali’s parents bought for him in Paris in 1910.
Staying within the heart of the city, it was a quick walk to the house where Dalí was born and then onto the church where he was baptized. The Church of Sant Pere originated in the 10th century, was reconstructed in the 14th, and in 1578 given the exterior that we saw on the day we visited.
A 20-minute walk out of the city took us to the Castell de Sant Ferran, an 18th century fortress that could hold 4000 soldiers, making it the largest military structure in Europe at the time. They offer guided tours (11€) but when I read that it was not suitable for people with “claustrophobia and difficulty in dark and narrow spaces,” I was happy to stay out on our own with a 4€ ticket.
In Barcelona we knew the lively and crowded street, La Rambla, so I was intrigued to see a recommendation to stroll La Rambla in Figueres for a more relaxed, local feel without as many tourists. We wanted to go there anyway to see the Hotel Duran where Dalí apparently spent a lot of time in their restaurant and bar. They opened for lunch at 12:45 PM and we had the 3-course, 28€ fixed-price menu with 4 choices for each course including mineral water and a glass of wine. We found good values like that all over town.
Taking advantage of our proximity to Girona, we took the train there for the day and that will be on the blog next time.
If you go to the museum: We aren’t Salvador Dali fans but we still had a good time visiting the museum by not trying to analyze the art; we just got lost in the whimsy and the “fun” of a Mae West lips sofa, elephants with extremely long legs, and a ruby encrusted heart jewel that beats. The building has 3 floors all connected only by stairs and there are some narrow, dead-end corridors for displays.