Monday started with our private tour guide, Roger, picking us up in Barcelona. Upon conferring, we realized his itinerary didn’t match the one we were given by our travel agent. No mind! We decided to trust his judgment and take us where he chose – we are so glad we did!
Our first stop was about an hour’s drive outside of the city to the town of Figueres, the hometown of Salvador Dali. The first surprise of the day? A private tour by Roger of the Teatro Museo Dalí – a museum Dali himself designed around the town’s former municipal theater. Photos will not do this unique experience justice! Roger gave us such insight into so many aspects of Dali’s creative genius; without it, our experience would not have been nearly as enjoyable or interesting. He shared stories of Dali’s muse and eventual wife, Gala, who is the subject of so many of his paintings. He spoke of Dali’s various styles, including the obvious surrealism, but also shared with us his stereoscopic works, original holograms, furniture, jewelry, and more. From the 1930s Cadillac (it is raining inside the car) to the Mae West room (neither words nor pics can describe this room!), it is one of the most bizarre, yet captivating museums we’ve ever visited. Dali is also buried in this museum.
Dali created the painting on the left (below) by taking squid and stomping on them. The black squid ink became his paint on the canvas to create this portrait. And long before Andy Warhol, Dali created this small painting on the right (below) called "Girl from Figueres." Notice the sign in the top right, just to the right of her head? Including a brand/logo in a painting was unheard of (and certainly frowned upon) during this time.
This Dali painting (below) was an early form of a hologram. You can hopefully see the image of Gala's body in the center. However, as you zoom in (easily done from our camera lens), you see the portrait of Lincoln! It's remarkable!
We then continued another 30 minutes to the charming medieval town of Girona, founded in 79 BC. What a treasure! It is known as the city of four rivers, as it is located at the confluence of these rivers. Much of the ancient city walls and forts still exist, along with the Benedictine Church of Sant Pere de Galligants in its Romanesque style. There is also the incredible Cathedral de Santa Maria de Girona. We walked the narrow walkways of the Jewish Quarter and strolled the many medieval streets of this amazing town. There are several bridges in the town, including one that Gustave Eiffel designed. He was paid a mere 140 euro for this bridge in 1877. Clearly, this was before he constructed his famed Paris tower!
Another surprise – did you know that the No. 2 restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list is in Girona? El Celler de Can Roca. Sadly, it was not open when we visited! However, one of the three Roca brothers opened a unique ice cream shop that features homemade ice cream heated inside of a bread pastry. Incredible!
Last surprise of Girona? A very popular, long-running HBO series was filmed here. Can you guess?
Our last stop of the day was in the charming town of Tossa de Mar, on the Costa Brava. What a lovely beach town (note – the beaches in Spain are not made of sand, but of tiny rocks). The town is believed to have been in existence as early as the 1st century BC. In the 12th century, the medieval town was walled off and its castle was built high on its cliffs overlooking the ocean. After a stroll through town and up to the castle walls, we put our feet in the rocky sand and in the sapphire blue ocean!
Upon returning to Barcelona, we enjoyed a cool swim in the rooftop pool, followed by lounging and cocktails at the rooftop terrace and bar. What a lovely way to end such a great day. We then ventured a few blocks away from our hotel for late evening tapas at a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating. Qué buen día hace!