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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. En route to the house, here is their boat. I want a boat named after me - even if it's yellow and not very Russian oligarch style:- 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. His paintbrushes:- His art room:- The very simple dining room, with increasingly teeny chairs:- 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:- Here is just a teeny part of their twisty turny quirky garden:- 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:- Separate beds! AHA!! The key to a happy and long married life I suspect (but don't take my word for it, I'm divorced! Should have tried separate beds first):- 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. Who would have thought to make a door that shape? 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:- 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.
What a wonderful time my 12 year old son and I had in Costa Brava for half term - as guests of the Costa Brava and Catalan Tourism boards we were treated like celebrities for five days. We even appeared on the news which was hugely exciting until my daughter texted to say "must have been a real 'no news' day in Spain for you to be on it". We had an action packed week from start to finish, delicious restaurants, wonderful villages, boats, a skydiving lesson, a cooking lesson, a throwing a pot lesson, Dali visits, fabulous people....it couldn't have been better. I'm going to write about some of the activities in the next few days. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights:- The link to the blogger family trip and me being interviewed!! http://www.tv3.cat/videos/4594471/Telenoticies-Girona-30052013 Our boat trip:- Our cooking lesson on a vineyard:- The finished product:- Our visit to Dali's house where I was forced to look ridiculous:- The wonderful Cadaques:- Where even the calamari is heart-shaped:- Our wind tunnel sky diving experience which was brilliant:- What we all looked like as beginners:-
I have of late become a Dalifile. Firstly because of the amazing exhibition I saw in Paris a few months ago and secondly because I have had the privilege in the last few days of not only going to his museum, but of being able to take a look around his house. Personally, I am taking it all as a sign. A sign that I quickly need to find an upcoming artist on the brink of superstardom who is looking for a much older muse that he will adore forever. I have decided that I want to be Gala, his wife (especially after visiting their house where I can really see myself floating around) who was even allowed to take her own lovers during their long marriage, as they appear to have had more of a mother/son, metaphysical relationship than a conventional marriage. Not sure what that was all about when Dali was obviously fixated with sex - I need to find out more. Anybody got any goss? On the third day of our family bloggers tour to Costa Brava we went to the small town of Figueres in Catalonia, near the border with France - the birthplace of Salvador Dali which is now home to the Dali Museum. Whether you are passionate about your surreal art or just have a passing interest in Dali, this is an essential stop off or a day trip from Barcelona. Especially if you have children, because Dali is one of the few artists who appeals to kids with his bizarre but highly accessible work (and lots of additional rude bits for them to snigger at) and the museum offers all sorts of workshops to keep the children absorbed. It was one of the best, most interactional museums I have ever been to. Here is the outside of the museum, bedecked with little loaves of bread:- The local folklore story explains that the bread is shaped with three "ends" because the local baker had three daughters all of whom wanted the "end" - so he redesigned the loaf to look like this:- Loving the "girls on tour" look:- Here is the courtyard you walk into first:- and the giant painting in the hall space:- We were given a guided tour - shown all the two different meanings style pictures and sculptures - the one in the main hall is amazing - to see the second image of Abraham Lincoln you either have to look at it through a camera or mirror, or slit your eyes to see the alternative image. Quite incredible. Like this:- Or this:- Our guide tells us all about the relationship between Salvador Dali and his wife/muse Gala - I am fascinated:- This image of Gala features widely - almost as if she is holding a baby to her breast - a motherly, yet sexy image, even though they didn't have any children together:- We see the cleverly designed bedroom he made for Mae West:- When you look at it from the front and above it creates this image:- Many of his most famous paintings are in the international exhibition at the moment, but I don't mind because I had the privilege of seeing them all up close and personal at the Pompidou centre. It is now in New York. We then take part in a workshop for children whereby they are able to think about Dali challenging our reality Vs dream world and how to change the image. They offer loads of different types of workshop - making animals, turning children into angels, all sorts:- Here is their website to see what other options they offer http://www.salvador-dali.org and they have a Facebook page where they have already uploaded that ridiculous jumping photo of us all. I can't jump. Never have been able to. However, surprisingly I seem to be massively getting into the whole exercise:- and then again... It really was a great visit - my son, who is not someone who generally enjoys being taken to art galleries and museums really loved it. Highly recommended. TEATRE-MUSEU DALI Placa GAla-Salvador Dali, 5 17600 Figueres TEl: 972 67 75 00 firstname.lastname@example.org Jan-Feb/Nov-Dec: 10.30 - 17.45 March, April, May, June, October: 9.30 - 17.45 July - September:9.00 - 19.45 Open every day without exception and entrance is permitted until 30 minutes before closing time. Prices can be found on the website. Many thanks to the Costa Brava and Catalan Tourism Board who invited us to visit. All opinions, as ever, are my own.