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
“Why are you doing this?” was the first question I got asked when I shared that I want to skip birthday presents and ask people to donate to a fundraising campaign instead. The question was valid and conversation that followed even made me a bit unsure of my decision … I wondered if people will be open to my ideas, if they would think that I am an attention seeker, trying to come across as all high and mighty,if they would be relentless to participate and then I talked to my Mum and as always she was supportive of my decisions, that took away any doubts I had, which proofs one more time, you should always speak to your mother first :)
Anyways, let me recap the story: with my birthday fast approaching I was feeling blue, I think many of us do, pre -birthday blues - you involuntarily start giving your life evaluation and let’s face it, more often then not you see that you are not where you’d want and/or thought you’d be. I also felt strongly that even tho my life was not as accomplished as I would want it to be, it was still a good life and I wanted to express how grateful I am for it. So I decided to use my birthday as an opportunity to raise money for a charitable cause. I’ve heard about this before and decided to give it a shot, being a bit of a nerd I did some research, I wanted to donate to a non-profit that would have a high score by charity watchdog - transparent, accountable etc, etc. I decided to go with charity.water - www.charitywater.org. This name came up in a number of lists, plus they had a 100% policy - which meant that 100% of funds they raise go towards helping people, no cuts for budgeting in day to day operations of non-profit itself, besides they promised detailed report at the end of the campaign so you can see exactly where your money is going, combined with he fact that water is essential to life itself and that so many countries still don’t have an access to clean drinking water it seamed like a no brainer, so I charged on and set up a campaign page -my.charitywater.org/dinara-chetyrova/birthday-wish.
What followed surprised me in many ways…
First of all turned out that it is really hard to motivate people to give money to you (even if it is not actually for you) although this must have been apparent I still was surprised how much harder it was to get a dollar then say “like” under a photo, people liked the pix on a post, or wrote how great the idea was, but none donated… My first donation had me broken into a happy dance, I have never been so happy to see virtual 25$ in my life…
Time went on - still no donations I was getting worried. My friends started coming through the closer it got to the big day and every donation made me super happy, even tho it didn’t go at all as I imagined, some even reached out to double check if this is really want I wanna do, because this no gift policy seamed a bit weird for them. This made me realize, that I might have not been fare to my friends, I was thinking I was releasing them from the agonizing pain of coming up with the gift ideas, providing them with quick and good for your soul option instead, but I failed to think that not everyone might feel the same way I do about certain things. I was in fact making them do something, they might not be comfortable with and I also secretly placed my own value on participation in my campaign, which you should never do, it is like wanting someone to love you and then expecting them to do it in the very specific way and getting upset if they didn’t, just because someone doesn’t show there love the way it is in your head doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
My birthday came and it was wonderful and I was showered with flowers and love from my friends donations or not. I saw how much I meant to them and it was amazing.
The birthday came and gone and I was still way under the campaign goal and a little upset, like I am bringing people down and then something amazing happened - one of my friends was passing on belated birthday wishes and she mentioned that donating to campaign made her feel so good, she decided to sign up for a monthly donations. This meant a world to me! To know what something I started made an effect on at least one person, made them motivated and got involved, that validated the whole experience to me, goal reached or not and this gave me an answer to the question I was faced with at the very beginning. “Why are you doing this?” - because if I can make a small difference in people’s lives I want to give it a shot and if I can make a small impact on someone’s heart, well this is just an icing on a cake. I know that in a grand scheme of things - one person is just a drop, but so many things starts with just one drop.
Week after my birthday another amazing thing happened - people I’ve only met in my life handful of times, and even relatively unknown people saw my many, probably annoying, FB/IG posts and pitched in, finally pushing me OVER my campaign goal and it felt amazing! Now thanks to my incredible friends, who handle me in my many states and go along with my many weird ideas, thanks to kindhearted acquaintances and even incredible strangers - 13 people will have an access to clean drinking water. This means 13 happy people plus super happy me.
Fundraising on any scale is hard and I have learned many things about myself doing this, I am so happy and grateful for every donation. I am sorry for such a long long post, but I wanted to explain my point of view and why I do, what I do and I hope it came across.
I also hope this might inspire you to get involved in any way you wish.
My charity water campaign is still active and will be for some time, I couldn’t figure out how to change campaign length for the life of me, but the more happy people - the better it is, so feel free to join in - my.charitywater.org/dinara-chetyrova/birthday-wish. No donation is small, you know my views on significance of drops.
If you wish to donate your time instead, you can join me in volunteering. More on how to volunteer in NYC here - www.dinarachetyrova.com/blog/it-is-the-season-for-caring
If you read this far - thank you and
Happy clean water drinking
First time I visited Moscow I was just a baby. Big City overwhelmed me, I remember insane amount of people and trying to keep up with my mum, she had this plastic bag with her (very fancy at that time, trust me) with “baton” (something like a fat Russian baguette) in it, so I kept my focus on it, because I was really scared to get lost. We only spend half a day in Moscow, since we were transferring from one train to another. Needless to say I didn’t like Moscow back then, it didn’t help that from my point of you I could only see legs and butts of passing by people, which is not that exciting, the amount of people was also overwhelming and they covered up all of the pretty stuff that you might see around, also train stations are not the best places in particular, so that’s that.
Last time I came to Moscow was about 10 year ago, although no longer a baby, but rather a formed adult, I was still overwhelmed, everyone seemed to be always in a rush, aggravated and downright rude, I took care of my business, rolled my eyes and got the hell out.
So this time around when I took my recent trip to Moscow, I was not expecting anything, having lived in NYC for the past 7 + years I knew that crowds won’t overwhelm me, people rushing somewhere is my jam now, and I can personally speed walked past anyone on a sidewalk any time a day, sarcastic is a new black, so I was prepared to handle any type of rudeness that way.
But when I got to Moscow this time, I was pleasantly surprised, I have discovered that it is in fact - beautiful, something I managed to missed during my “baton” chasing before
Moscow met me with the sea of green, I never knew how many parks it has and everything was blooming, so truly a great time of the year to visit (late May) although I got lucky, because just a week before my visit it snowed, because Russia…
If you want to visit parks you might want to start with Muzeon Park of Arts (http://park-gorkogo.com/en/muzeon) located outside of Krymsky Val building and shared by the modern art division of Tretyakov Gallery and Central House of Artist, it is an open space scuplture garden where you can stroll down look around and enjoy the view of Moscow river, Kremlin etc…
There’s plenty of things to do and you can take one of the designated lanes for bicycles and rollerblades and zip down to Gorky Central Park which moves onto Neskuchny Garden ( http://park-gorkogo.com/en/ns) which according to the web site is advertised as a home of romantic lanes and friendly squirrels, “Neskuchny” literally means not boring, so I am guessing the squirrels are also fun…
And if you feel like you still have some energy to explore, you can follow down the Moscow River and go to Vorobyovy gory (http://park-gorkogo.com/en/vg) where you can find an observation deck with the view of Moscow, it is also a hot spot for the biker community, so you can walk around and look at variety of custom made and not so much motorcycles.
Take a moment to appreciate Main Building of Moscow State University - it is indeed monumental.
Monumental is the world that was on my mind pretty much the whole time I was in Moscow. I have gotten so used to narrow streets of Manhattan and that everything is growing only vertically here, that I was shocked by the amount of space Moscow have, forget narrow streets, it is all about width, size does matter. I think it hit me most of all when I returned to the Red Square (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/545) an adult now, standing in a middle of it, you couldn't help but feel the magnitude of where you are at, you feel the power and strength, you also feel suddenly very small and insignificant, but I guess that was one of the points of it too… Unique is the other world that comes to mind, because this architecture reflects authentic Russian style…
Fun fact the name “Red Square” does not reflect colour (Kremlin used to be white at some point) but rather reflects old Russian world “krasniy” meaning beautiful, which it is.
Another thing worth mentioning is Moscow Subway (Metro). I have travelled around a world a bit and I can honestly say that Moscow subway is one of the most beautiful in the world.
It is also truly reliable, unlike NYC subway, trains in Moscow do not suffer from identity crises, you know when B suddenly decides it wants to run like Q today, or express train last minute start making local stops, but always manages to skip yours… and while usual past time when waiting on your train in NYC includes deciding the level of cuteness among subway rats, you won’t have this opportunity in Moscow, lack of rats is one of the reasons and also trains are coming every 2 minutes (2 minutes people!) and you can see a little countdown clock, so you know exactly when the next train is coming, pretty neat, huh.
Now regarding the rudeness, I might have been extremely lucky this time around but everything I met was extremely polite, I had a number of random pleasant encounters in different places, this might have something to do with the fact that tips are not mandatory in here (again hello NYC), so servers in a restaurants are interested in providing you with the nice experience, but I also had pleasant encounters with people where tips were not involved whatsoever, I tried to get my nails done at one of the salons, but they didn’t have an opening, nevertheless they helped me remove my chipped up nail polish and insisted on me staying over for tea/coffee, who does that??
Couple of other things that stood out to me:
the amount of flower shops, everywhere you look you will find one, or two, it seems like the entire nation is concerned with getting/giving flowers, to understand how important flowers are in this culture you need to know that at some point the was a service that would provide giant flower bouquets for rent, so the girls could take pic with it and post on social media, for some extra money you could also get a luxury brands shopping bags, I mean …
the amount of foreign currency exchange places and amount of foreigners (two might be somehow connected)
Uber is super active and so it Gett, Gett was especially surprising…
the construction - seems like the whole centre is under construction, which leads to infamous traffic … also it might take some time to realize where the hell you can cross the street if you are walking or taking subway
church’s and mosque’s domes are insanely shinny regardless of there sizes even small ones are all dressed up.
feminism is not as widely promoted, so man still think you need there help and not afraid to offer it, which I gladly accepted, because my bags were heavy and I am a delicate flower, but if I am being serious it was curious to see gender roles in action in Russia, which is still very really traditional in many ways.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that it took me some years and traveling all over the world to finally appreciate Moscow, to see it in another light and I am quite happy I was able to. Sometimes beautiful, exciting, unique things are right there and you are missing it, because you are starring at the “baton” picking out of plastic bag…
If you would like to see more images of Moscow Metro please go here - dailym.ai/1WjFPNb
Happy returning to Motherland.