If you are thinking of taking the kids anywhere this half term and wanted some ideas for somewhere warmer than the UK, with some interesting things to do, then you should perhaps think about the Costa Brava. I was there in May half term with my son and I can’t tell you how many things we did together that we loved – I have written a number of posts on the trip that you will find in the travel section – alternatively here is a link to the amazing afternoon we spent at the Dali museum in Figueres:- http://www.familyaffairsandothermatters.com/dali-museum-figueres-catalonia-spain/
Another moment I will relish forever was a tour of Dali’s actual home. It was the most enjoyable tour I have ever done (better than Alcatraz), probably because I’ve always harboured a fascination for his surrealist paintings – particularly during my Psychology degree when I tried very hard to get some measure of the man (impossible). Earlier this year I was privileged enough to see the vast exhibition of all his works in Paris, I had no idea that he was quite so prolific, talented in so many mediums.
His home was therefore initially a surprise. Such a simple setting. Spread over several (seven actually) fisherman’s cottages and set into the rocks in a gorgeous little cove in Cap de Creus, Port Lligat, just around the corner from Cadaque. Calm, peaceful, white.
I had expected to see flamboyance, colour and complication, but after touring a few rooms and feeling the tangible sense of peace and tranquility – particularly as you admired the views of the fishing bay from their bedroom, it all began to make sense. This was Dali’s perfect hideaway, somewhere he could be at one with nature. It remained his only fixed abode for over 50 years, where he lived and worked with his muse Gala until he died in 1982. I understood that for him to have such a ridiculously busy and unusual mind, what he craved was peace and tranquility in his surroundings. Almost like a blank canvas upon which he could build his images.
The sitting room – I do have a complaint here – I was very upset to see that all the books had been replaced with pretend ones – I have always found looking at a person’s choice of books gives a very good insight into what they were like. Why aren’t they there anymore? Is it because they assume we will steal them? Or perhaps the sea air doesn’t do them any good. Nevertheless, I’ve got a few books I’ve got to send to a charity shop soon – I’d be delighted to donate them, if nobody minds thinking Dali was an avid Jilly Cooper reader…:-
Here is the photograph of the iconic painting of Gala – in the mother/child pose. He stuck it somewhere private that ensured he would be able to admire it every day as he went down the stairs. Again. I’m jealous. Anybody know of any artists in need of an older muse? Trouble is even Lucien Freud’s version of older female muse was Kate Moss, so I’ve got no hope:-
Every room provides additional insight into how the couple lived – Gala in her dressing room has stuck press clippings of the two of them all over the room – I think she was even more obsessed than he was:-
From his bed he had erected a mirror that meant he had a view of the sea from all angles. Mirrors were strategically placed throughout creating a wonderful and quirky light or an additional sense of space. In this photo of their bedroom you can see where he liked to keep his birds and crickets:-
So here we are, now out in the garden, everywhere you look, whilst there is simplicity, there is also the style that made the man.
Or the pool? Long and meandering with little circular pools at the end. I should have known when the lovely Steve Keenan of Travel Perspectives got me to lie by the side dangling my arm in the water for a photograph, that something was wrong. Ha ha ha, oh how they laughed later at the image of me reclining beside the world’s largest water shaped willy. It took another fellow blogger to whisper to me that I was being conned….I had no idea that Dali had created a phallic shaped pool….oh the fun they must have had cavorting with all their friends around that in the 70’s. I bet even Hugh Hefner went there. Imagine the launch party?
The splendid view, with the iconic egg completely ruined by me. For some reason I promised I would get my photo taken in the egg so I had to ask a complete stranger to take my photo – I felt a little foolish to say the least – especially because it looks like I’m doing a wee (which I wasn’t):-
So there we are then. You must go. See the museum first with all it’s interactive bits if you are with your kids because then it will all make sense. You need to book. It’s very busy and there are timed entries every 10 minutes. I don’t believe you have to pay for children under 9 and entry is 11 euros. But please check the website for further details http://www.salvador-dali.org/museus/portlligat/en_index.html
Many thanks to the Costa Brava and Catalan Tourism Board who invited us to visit. All opinions on this blog post and all others related to the press trip are my own.