Barcelona is without doubt the city living and breathing with Gaudí but when you think of Spain you can’t miss another great artist - Salvador Dalí and a trip to Spain won’t feel complete without paying a tribute to that man.
www.salvador-dali.org/en/museums/- this website is really helpful if you are planing to visit the Dalí museums in Spain, it gives you general overview and you can book tickets all in one place, which trust me you would want to do in advance when it comes to this museums. Even in September which is considered off season, you had to book tickets at least 3 days prior.
There are few museums, each located in a different city, so it is up to you how many and which you would prefer to visit.
We decided to do two.
Dalí Theatre-Museum. This one is located in Figueres, located about hour and half away from Barcelona when traveling by car, be advised that there will be few tolls on a road and even tho most of the booths have a card reader it is a good idea to have some cash on you, one of the booths did not want take a card, for the life of us …
If you don’t have a car or don’t know how to drive (like me for example) do not fear - there are plenty of other ways of getting to Figueres - busses and trains … more info you can find here - www.salvador-dali.org/en/museums/dali-theatre-museum-in-figueres/info-practica/com-arribar/
Figueres is actually Dalí’s hometown and the museum is located on a square across the church where he was baptized. As the name suggest the Theater-Museum was in fact a theater at one point and was bought by Dalí when it went out of business. It still has a stage and this theater feel, although you are not really sure who is on display here objects around you or you. Rooms are numbered, but you are encouraged not to pay attention to numbers and just get lost in a maze, which can be fun, but it took us forever to finally find an exit when we had enough exploring, so keeping track of things might be a good idea.
Some people invest in having a tour guide, but they are such a gamble - you can have a great one, animated and entertaining or you can get stack with someone who is just going through the motions. I just kind of eavesdropped on Russian and English speaking guides - this way I found out that Dalí was actually buried in the Museum and I was standing right on top of the his grave, rather unsettling feeling.
There are different attractions throughout the Theater where you can drop a coin in and you will be rewarded with a little entertainment. The main one is located in a courtyard - it’s a Cadillac and when you drop the coin it starts raining inside the car. There’s a little anecdote according to which Dalí was walking along the streets of Paris one evening when it started raining, it wasn’t long before he got soaked, but he had no money for a cab fare, so he just had to keep walking and he saw all these people passing him in there cars, laughing and smiling in the warmth and comfort of there shelter, that’s when he decided to create a car where it would rain inside…
Second on the agenda was Salvador Dalí house in Portlligat.
Port Lligat located right next door to Cadaques and that’t where we decided to camp out, the two are somewhat 15 minute walk from each other, so it really dosen’t matter that much where you stay. Figueres is 45 minute drive from Cadaques, so if you are planning on visiting both museums you can hit Museum Theater on a way to Cadaques, spend a night and then move onto the House. Again if you don’t have a car there’s a train, bus option www.salvador-dali.org/en/museums/house-salvador-dali-in-portlligat/info-practica/com-arribar/
With this one we tried to book in advance, but there were not tickets available on line, nevertheless the car was rented already and the hotel rooms are booked, so we decided to roll the dice and go anyways. Upon arrival to the hotel we asked the front dest woman to make a call to the museum for us and she was told that the next available tickets are only in 3 days, which would be too late. So the next morning we decided to just swing by - and we got tickets on a spot without problem, we were there at around 10.30 a.m. and the museum opens at 9.30 (opening time varies by season). You can always try your luck, but remember that, the visit is restricted to 8 people at the time in the house, which is nice, because you never feel crammed.
There are two parts to visit - the house itself and the outside areas, olive garden, various viewing spots and pool. Your visit inside the house is somewhat timed, I think its about 10 minutes or so per area, you also have a guide who tells you a little bit about the house and can answer any questions you have, our guy was saying everything in 3 languages - Spanish, French and English. I was really impressed.
Once you moved onto the outside areas you were left to your own devices - no guide, but also no timing you.
As you can imagine the House is worth visiting, there’s so much to see and notice with your hungry eyes, you don’t know how to hold everything, the stuffed bear, greeting you at the front door, decorated with many little trinkets, the bird cages and tiny cricket cages (who has cricket cages, besides Chinese cab drivers ?), the Mirror on a wall, located at the exact spot so he could see the sunrise right in his bed, Gala’s private room with incredible acoustic - the list goes one and on.
It is a funny thing describing a Museum, describing a surreal museum is twice as funny and describing the house of Salvador Dalí, well it is something else all together, so I would just post more pictures for you and leave it at that.
The place is definitely worth seeing, I was so happy we actually managed to get in and the whole experience was just so overwhelmingly magical, I couldn’t stop twirling around and jumping up and down, which ended up with me dropping and smashing my phone mercilessly, so some of the photos you’ll see are shot on a smashed up phone - hope you still enjoy :)
Few thoughts about Cadaques. Even if your main purpose is seeing the Dalí museum you still might wanna spend a night or two in here. The place is small and charming with all the ships in the marina and lots of cute restaurants, tiny roads and flowers adorned walls. There is not much going on at this place, but this was exactly a change of pace needed after the non stop moving and walking and all-around hopping we did in Barcelona. There was nowhere to rush, nowhere to run to and it was nice, so Cadaques makes a great relax after Barcelona spot. Perfect for a vacation in Spain combination...
Happy venturing into surrealism
Despite what one might think, this post is about literally hot as in high temperatures summer, so if you are hoping for some steamy content, I will disappoint you, but if you want to know how I battled way too hot NYC summer with the random combination of beaches and museums, read right on.
Now, I know that beach and museum is not a traditional pairing, but somehow looking at the summary of my NYC summer time - that’s what it came down to. New York is the city I am lucky to call home and I am forever grateful to be living here, but every time I am staying in for a summer I am left with the question - what to do? There is something about summer time, you always want to feel that you made the best out of it, long awaited, when it is finally here you want to soak up every beat, but it just does not feel real summery if you don’t go on vacation or some kind of adventure, plus it gets stupid hot in NYC - just try to take a subway on a regular summer day - it will feel like you are in a sauna. Your most prized possession and best friend will be an AC, it also becomes high point in advertising - “We have AC” will be scribbled across all the chalk boards in front of every possible bar/restaurant/cafe…
So how do you escape summer heat? Go to the beach or go somewhere with good AC…
Step one. Beach.
All things considered we are lucky to have number of beaches all around NYC. Coney Island in Brooklyn, Rockaway in Queens, Fire Island, Hamptons and Montauk.
Rockaway beach is a nice option, since it is easily accessible by public transportation, but less crowded then say Coney Island one.
I really wanted to take advantage of a new Ferry service they opened up www.ferry.nyc/routes-and-schedules/route/rockaway/, for $2.75 a ride it seamed like a nice, scenic route option, but when I got to the Wall street the line turned out to be enormous, so I had to quickly abandon this idea and got to the plan B - subway. Luckily you can take A to 67th street (for example) quick walk and hooray you are at the beach. Helpful tip if you are planing on taking a subway on a weekend check this site - tripplanner.mta.info/MyTrip/ui_web/customplanner/TripPlanner.aspx. New York subway on weekends like to play games and trains often suffer from the identity crisis … so A, runs like C on E track, you get the idea…
The Rockaway beach is in general nice - it is clean and equipped with new broad walk and fancy public restrooms, there is also a life guard on duty. What they dont have is any kind of cafe or bar or any place on site where you could get some kind of food, which is really disappointing, since picnic on a beach is generally a really nice idea, so come prepared, or make a stop at the grocery store (there is a Stop and Shop close by the subway) on the way to the beach.
Much less crowded and more scenic would be Fire Island beaches. You will need to rent a car or get on a Ferry for that one, it is harder to reach but it is worth it.
If you decide on a car - drive to Robert Moses State Park. You will need to pay a fee, at the parking lot this being a state park, but there are plenty of parking places and the beach is lovely, although keep in mind there might not be a life guard on duty …
If you opt for the Ferry - www.fireislandferries.com www.sayvilleferry.com/index.php - you will be guaranteed nice views on a ride and will dock down at the very cute town with beach vibes, which is always fun to explore, also you will feel like you are far far away from NYC…
Step 2. Museums. While there are plenty of places that offer AC as an escape from NYC heat, I chose museums. Mostly because come summer time many of them feature nice events, so you can not only soak up culture and cool down but also listen for live music for example.
I went down to MOMA for a life performance in there garden as a part of there Summer Thursdays and it was lovely. The concert is included in your museum admission price, which is a nice touch as well. You can find upcoming events here -www.moma.org/calendar/?happening_filter=All+events
Come Friday you can take advantage of MetFridays - www.metmuseum.org/events/programs/met-fridays that offers wide range of evening activities, some of which you might need to book a spot for in advance (you don’t need to pay extra, it is included with your museum admission) or simply come up to the roof and get a glass of wine. Art, wine, rooftop and views of Central Park - here is your summer living full swing.
You can also get out of town and into a museum on a weekend.
This summer I finally got to visit Dia:Beacon -www.diaart.org and it was an incredible experience, honestly I do not remember last time I was so excited by the museum, took me around 4 hours to explore everything and while sometimes you get simply overwhelmed by the amount of information that is thrown at you in the museums like lets say Met for example, that contains it all, and it is hard to filter through, at DIA everything works perfectly together, exhibitions blend seamlessly permanent and temporary displaces coexist cohesively guaranteeing beautiful experience. I am not gonna describe what you will find there, so not to spoil anything, but if you choose to go, there is plenty to see and do, and the building itself is a whole different story, Dia used to be a factory and it is still contains original walls, beams and most importantly windows, there are enormous amount of windows. Dia:Beacon uses only natural light and there is plenty of it coming from floor to ceiling windows and many many skylights, whole building gets this open space, airy feel and it is safe to say that everyone gets a different experience depending on a time of a day they come in, from cool morning light to the golden hour hues.
The great thing about Dia is also the fact that it is really easy to get to even without the car. Take advantage of Metro-North’s One-Day Getaway Package which includes a round trip tickets to Beacon from Grand Central and the museum ticket. All around win win win situation.
Stop by the Beacon on a way back and explore cute town, if you are happen to be a “Doctor Who” fan - which I am not- stop by www.thepandoricarestaurant.com
Even if "Doctor Who" is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of charming places to grab a bite at all conveniently located on a Main Street of course. One coffee shop even offers wine smoothies, which is a frozen wine blended in with fresh fruit, now tell me that doesn’t sound like fun.
So this is a short recap of my New York summer, beaches, art and wine :) Hope you enjoyed reading this.
Happy last days of Summer