Every year, for my birthday (October 3rd), I try to plan a “get away” at least for a weekend. Last year was Venezuela, and Barcelona for the year before. This time we had to postpone it to the end of the month, but it didn´t change the fact that we had 4 amazing days off in “La Costa Brava” (Mediterranean Sea), where we enjoyed Salvador Dali´s (1904-1989) golden triangle: his house, his museum and his wife´s castle.
Madrid to Barcelona
Friday, October 28th
Our “get away” started in the afternoon of Friday. I picked up Francisco at 15:00 by his workplace, with sandwiches and mandarins ready for the road, and the idea of sleeping in Cadaqués, but after 6 hours driving from Madrid and a really bad cough, we decided to stop and sleep in Barcelona in our friends house, especially since we read the road gets twisty in the last segment, before reaching Cadaqués.
Barcelona to Cadaqués
Saturday, October 29th
Our friends, Natalia and Andrés, prepared this delicious homy breakfast and then we head to the Sant Pere de Rodes Monastery, in Port de la Selva 1 hour from Barcelona, 4.5 euros the entry ticket), which is in the way to Cadaqués and offers stunning views of the bay of Llançà.
Here is a map with our stops so you place yourself in the area.
Our next stop was Dali´s House-Museum in Portlligat, a small village located in Cadaqués. We parked very close to it, on the street (very narrow in this area).
We bought the tickets online (11 euros each) more than 1 month in advance, since I read it is unlikely to find tickets last-minute (same for the museum in Figueres). The visit started at 16:10 with a very kind guide leading our 7 people group through the house, explaining us the use of each room and also answering all of our questions (they are normally fluent in Spanish, Catalan, French and English, in all this area).
“The current House-Museum in Portlligat was Salvador Dalí’s only placed of residence, the place where he normally lived and worked until 1982 when, after Gala’s death (his wife), he moved to the Púbol Castle”, which we visited the next day.
“Referring to his usual residence, Salvador Dalí said: “Portlligat is the place of production, the ideal place for my work. Everything fits to make it so: time goes more slowly and each hour has its proper dimension. There is a geological peacefulness: it is a unique planetary case”. Read more here.
One interesting anecdote is that after his wife died, in June of 1982, in this house in Port Lligat, Dalí knew she wanted to be buried in his castle in Púbol, and as Dalí feared the authorities insisted on burying her in the place where she died, he launched his latest surreal drama: he tied Gala´s corpse on the seat of his Cadillac and drove her to her castle where she was buried in her favorite red dress from Dior with its characteristic black velvet bow in the crypt he commanded to do a few months earlier. There was also a crypt for Dalí, next to Gala, and communicated trough a window.
If you are not yet a fan of Salvador Dali, I recommend you to read a little bit about his life, his wife, how extravagant he was, his fascinations and what are the common features in his paintings, so you´ll get the most out of this trip.
After visiting Dali´s house, we went back to our car and head to “Cap de Creus”, which is the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, and also a Natural Park with great landscapes where “the strong winds from the north area (Tramuntana), century after century have carved unique scenery” that inspired some of Dali´s artwork.
Once in Cadaqués, we walked trough the seafront enjoying the sunset, passed by Dali´s statue and Santa María Church, had a Pisco Sour in Nord Est to toast for my 32 years (and 1 month) and went to “El Compartir” restaurant, recommended in the Michelin Guide since the three founding partners were chef of the Michelin 3-stars restaurant, El Bulli.
Dinner and service were amazing. We ordered, to share:
- Ensalada de Alcachofa con pasas y sorbete de almendra a la vainilla (Artichoke salad with raisins and almond sorbet with vanilla)
- Sardinas marinadas con frambuesa, remolacha y pistachos (Sardines marinated with raspberry, beet and pistachios)
- Rape con puré de suquet y picada (Monkfish with mashed suquet)
- Costillas de conejo con alcachofas rebozadas con alioli de manzana (Rabbit´s ribs with artichokes breaded with apple aioli)
- And for dessert, Bombones de chocolate liquid con helado de grosella (Liquid chocolate bonbons with currant ice cream)
..Plus a couple of glasses of white wine and we paid 90 euros per the 2 of us.
¿Where to stay?
Sadly, it is not easy to find a hotel with parking in Cadaqués, even though it wasn´t high season. I wanted to stay at Llane Petit Hotel but it was fully booked since September, so we ended up staying at L´Hostalet de Cadaqués, which has a very kind hostess, and the rooms were very small but comfortable and very well located.
There is a public parking close to the hotel, where we paid 21 euros for the night.
Cadaqués to Barcelona
Sunday, October 30th
Woke up early and had breakfast in the “casino”, which is not a real casino, but a club with a bar with great view but awful service (sorry, but I´m being honest), although coffee was good.
Walked again trough the seafront but this time with sun light, and picked up our car to head up to our next destination: FIGUERES, to visit Dali´s Theater-Museum. And after 1 hour driving, we parked in a public parking next to the museum.
We also bought the tickets online one month in advance for the museum and the castle. The museum´s tickets were 14 euros each, and 8 euros to enter into the Castle.
This museum is an amazing piece of artwork in the artist´s hometown. The project started when the Mayor of Figueres, back in the sixties, asked Dalí to donate a work for the local museum and Dalí suggested he´ll donate an entire museum. The museum is placed in a former Municipal Theatre of Figueres that was destroyed in a fire at the end of the Spanish Civil War.
It was inaugurated in September of 1974, after being designed and conceived by Salvador Dalí himself. “Walking through the exhibition rooms allows visitors to capture Dalí’s first artistic experiences, surrealism, nuclear mysticism and passion for science, and guide them to the works of the last part of his life” (read more here). In the Mae West room, Dalí created a “double reality” space, the artworks and the furniture are arranged such that together make up the face of Mae West: the two paintings are the eyes, the curtains the hair, the couch are the lips and the chimney the nose; the experience is intentionally full of humor and sexual innuendo.
One interesting fact is that most of the people enter in the great gallery of the museum without realizing they are walking on Dalí´s tomb. If you go to the rooms downstairs you can actually see the tomb. Although, his burial-place remains a controversial issue, since initially he wanted to be buried next to his queen in the Púbol´s Castle, where there is a grave for him next to Gala´s, but in his last weeks of life he changed his mind and wanted to be buried in his museum, in his own personal mausoleum, next to his treasure. His body was embalmed, his mustache waxed and he was buried in a beige robe.
After 2-3 hours walking around the rooms of the museum, we decided to walk a little trough the town while looking for a place to grab something to eat before heading to Púbol.
Once in Púbol, which is around 40 minutes driving from Figueres, we visited the amazing Púbol (or Gala´s) Castle, from the 15th century.
In 1968, Dalí asked his friends to help him find a house for Gala, close to Port Lligat since they lived between New York, Paris and Port Lligat. They bought this castle in 1969 for 1.5 millions of pesetas and began to rehabilitate the castle, destroyed after the civil war. From the 70´s to 80´s, Gala spent summers in the castle, apparently bringing lovers, and she puts a condition to Dalí: he could not gain access without written permission from her, which he loved it.
When Gala died in 1982, Dalí moved to the Castle but his health was delicate. He installed himself in Gala´s room, where there was an electrical bell to call the nurses, and apparently he caused a fire after overusing the bell. He was injured during the fire and had to be admitted into the hospital. He never went back to Púbol and went to live in the Galatea Tower in 1984, in the Figuere´s museum, where he died in 1989.
Once being completely satisfy with this amazing golden triangle of Salvador Dali places, we drove back to Barcelona.
Barcelona to Madrid
Monday, October 31th
To have the chance to visit more friends and family, we spent the night at my cousin´s house and also had this incredible homy breakfast in the morning together with a nice morning chat before our 5.5 hours driving back to Madrid.
- Do it by car. Although there is a way to get to Figueres by train, if you want to do Dali´s triangle in the same trip, I believe the best way is doing by car, stopping at different spots to enjoy the landscape of the zone
- I love traveling, but I have to admit I like to plan every minute of my trips, however I don´t get mad if there are changes. The thing is that I don´t like to come back home and realize I´ve missed something because I didn´t know about it, or worse, miss something because you have to book in advance. This trip is the kind of trips you have to plan with time because the tickets get sold out quick, and all of them are sold with a time scheduled for the visit
- Same for the hotel, we went during a national holiday, but it wasn´t summer and still it wasn´t easy to find a good hotel
- Also, our hotel´s hostess told that, due to the large amount of tourist during summer, the police closes the road of Cadaqués and you are only allow to get in by car if you have a hotel reservation, which is a good reason to book a hotel in advance and not to go in summer
- This is not a recommendation, but just a comment; around 80% of the tourist are french, so it could be a good place to practice your french
Total Expenses (4 Days / 3 Nights…only 1 night in a hotel)
Gas, tolls (from Madrid to BCN) and parking: 277 euros
Food: 188.5 euros (for the 2 of us)
Hotel: 72 euros (1 night)
Tickets: 66 euros (for the 2 of us)