'Each morning when I awake,

I experience again a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali

- Salvador Dali - 

We meet our guide at the designated meeting place in central Barcelona. and are delighted to find that she is an art historian and an expert of the life and work of Salvador Dali.

During the 141-kilometre drive from Barcelona, we learn about Dali's early life, his family, and childhood. Our guide, with her vivid and animated descriptions bring to life a young boy whose tenacious attention to detail and extraordinary creativity were very much encouraged by his mother.

As we arrive in Figueres, we pass the home in which Dali was born, then the church of Sant Pere, in which he was baptised, received First Communion, and where his funeral had been held. Next door to the Church is the Dali Theatre and Museum, which houses much of Dali's work. Our guide takes us into the museum, providing some basic information before enabling us to explore the space on our own. The museum itself is an old theatre, which had been burnt down during the Spanish Civil War. Dali and the mayor of Figueres embarked upon a construction project to provide a space for Dali to exhibit his extensive artwork. The facade of the museum features eggs and bread-sticks, two symbols that Dali used throughout his work. 

The museum is unique. Dali wanted his visitors to see his massive collection as his whole work. For this reason, there are no catalogues and the artwork is not placed in chronological or subject order. In addition to the paintings, there are sculptures, three-dimensional collages, interactive exhibits, and other spectacular artwork. We are surprised to see the original works of lithographs that belong to my brother-in-law. In fact, we call him and talk to him about the trilogy of paintings as we view them. Optical illusions, such as the massive collage, which, once the camera is brought to the eye, reveals a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. These works cannot be described by any other words than 'pure genius'. 

'I want my museum to be a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be a totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream.'  -  Salvador Dalí

It's lunchtime when we leave the museum and return to the bus. Our heads are buzzing with questions, which our guide patiently answers. In the beautiful coastal village of Cadaques, we eat a typical lunch inside a rustic restaurant near the lighthouse.  I am very well-satisfied with our day today, but Dali's story continues over lunch and as we travel in our minibus along the coastline to the tiny village of PortLligat. Next to a tiny bay, where fishing boats have been pulled up onto the beach above the high tide mark, there is a whitewashed building. Once an old fishing hut, which has had many extensions over the years, is where Dali sought peace and quiet and the location provided inspiration for much of his work. The studio still contains his furniture. Outside, his unique artwork extends into the terraces and the garden; even into an old olive grove, where, from a vantage point, a pile of old architectural remnants and a rotted rowing boat suddenly form yet another sculptural artwork. There is no limit to Dali's imagination and execution of the images he had seen in his head. 

We leave Port Lligat just as the sun starts to dip in the crystal blue sky. As the shadows lengthen slightly, we are whisked off to nearby Cap de Creus, the most easterly point of mainland Spain and one of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in the country. We have just a few minutes to explore the waterfront and to take advantage of the perfectly-framed views. By the time we pack ourselves back inside the minivan for our return journey to Barcelona, it is almost dark. 

During the two-hour return journey, I reflect on the both Dali and Gaudi. What is it, in this part of Spain, that allows creative people to not only explore the extent of their creativity, but to be accepted for all their eccentricities and to be celebrated for them during their lifetimes? Today, would we be so open to such individualism or would we try to smother creativity to conform to what is perceived to be 'normal'?

I have come away from today with not only a respect for Dali, but a better understanding of the extent and nature of his work.

This tour is highly recommended and is worthy of the full day tour to this north-eastern region of Spain.

Click here to read about the entire nine-day independent tour of Barcelona and Valencia.

Tour:  Explore Catalunya Tour: Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres and Cadaques small group day trip from Barcelona




Visit Dali Museum -Theatre in Figueres Figueres, personalised small group and commentary,

expert English-speaking guide, best tour for Dali enthusiasts, hidden treasures off the beaten track.

Rating: ***** Excellent tour

Hotel: Four Points by Sheraton. Barcelona Diagonal Avenida Diagonal 161-163, Barcelona 8018 Spain