Salvador Dalí Day Trippin' to Figueres. Barcelona Part 4.


If you want to see a bit more of Spain, head out to Figueres, Salvador Dalí’s hometown and locale for his self-curated museum paying homage to his own art. There's so much to see and do in Barcelona that I would recommend staying in the city if you have less than four days there. Consider a day trip, though, if you have more time. It's a pleasant - though surreal - change of pace.  Figueres is a two-hour train ride via Renfe, Spain’s national rail system. If you thought about it (we did), Madrid is three hours by Renfe or 2.5 hours by high-speed rail AVE, but with the extra time and the capital having another world to explore, you would probably benefit from an overnight stay in my opinion. Check the Renfe schedule - which varies by weekends, weekdays and holidays - and be on time. In fact, be early for once. You’ll have to buy a ticket from a teller ahead of time and there can be lines. Make sure you are standing at the correct platform, for the correct train. Renfe and TMB (Barcelona's bus and subway operators) often share an entrance to their underground platforms from the street.

Getting hungry? Don’t fret, they have cafes platform-side, so you can take an espresso and a sandwich if you want something in your stomach for the ride. I think I remember seeing drink vending machines on-board, too. The trains are very clean and comfortable. I loved watching the city slip away and idyllic country-scapes take its place: snow-capped mountain ranges, horses in the pasture, streams rushing along the forest floor.

Walking around Figueres, my head tilted sideways. I kept thinking, Dalí grew up here? I mean, the town appears so NORMAL. What kind of messed up dreams could this place evoke?

Once you reach the rambla flanked with the mottled bark of London plane trees, under which children chase their own tails, bear north and walk through the pedestrian-only part of town.

There’s no mistaking which building the museum is, it’s in the northwest corner of this neighborhood. Depending on which street you approach the museum from, you might spot the giant dinosaur eggs first. Or the thousands of bread bun sculptures might tip you off. By the time you spy Zeus atop a column of tractor tires, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt: You are delving into the surreal.

The Dalí Theatre-Museum is “the largest surrealist object in the world.” It’s as close to entering someone’s subconscious as the movie Being John Malkovich. We walked into the main courtyard, and after a few minutes of stunned silence, I whispered to my companion, “I don’t do drugs, but if I did, I’d want to do some right now.” (This is not an endorsement of ingesting mind-altering substances.) It's a big building with a lot of nooks and crannies - much to see and ponder and to just say huh? about: ceiling frescos, stamp-size paintings, sculpture, found art, taxidermy and gilded skeletons, stereoscopes, jewelry, installation art. Try out the coin-operated art pieces and don’t miss Mae West. With a day trip (pun intended) to Figueres, you can accomplish a leisurely visit to a one-of-a-kind museum, take a refreshing break from the city and be back in BCN in time for dinner.

Other posts in this series on Barcelona.