One of my favorite things about our early retirement budget travel adventure is the time we have to experience places like the Dali Theater-Museum in Figueres, Spain.
Salvador Dali created this museum with paintings, installations, drawings, and more from his private collection. He is buried here.
One of the most well-known installations is “Car Naval. Rainy Taxi.” It is the first piece Dali wanted visitors to see — it’s in a domed courtyard just beyond the entrance before the rooms with other art. I didn’t get too much quiet time near it because large tour groups started to enter the courtyard a short time after we arrived. Tedly urged me to move into the first room to stay ahead of the crowd.
As I viewed other terrific art and continued up winding floor plan of this museum over the next few hours, I gazed back down to the car-boat-woman-chains-tires-water-and-more installation from different windows on the upper levels.
When I had seen everything in the museum, I returned to view “Car Naval. Rainy Taxi” once more from the ground level. It was only during my second viewing that I noticed the umbrella on the bottom (top) of the boat opened when it rained inside the car.
Go ahead and call me slow because I didn’t notice the opening and closing umbrella quickly, I don’t care. This is a perfect example of why I wish I’d taken more time in this wonderful place — I got so lost in thoughts and feelings I know I must have missed so much.
If you’re a Dali fan in any way – and I was before this trip – give yourself extra time because this museum will make you love him even more. Don’t rush through a damn thing, despite heavy crowds. I felt too rushed, because we had planned to also to go to Girona on the same day. I wish I had stayed longer. I enjoyed the time I did have, and I loved every single moment around Dali’s creative genius.
Here are more examples of Dali’s surreal museum pieces:
Of the paintings, Atomic Leda was my favorite. I’m also smitten on so many others. Here’s a sample:
Admission also included Dali’s jewelry exhibit. Here are a few pieces I loved from that building, which down the road from the Theater-Museum. The slow ring was my favorite:
Admission was about $17.50 USD each. You chose your entry time when you order tickets online. Obviously, the first time slot of the day will have no people ahead of you inside the museum. But let me tell you what – we were the second slot and in 20 minutes after we walked in, the place was overrun.
And that, my friends, is an unfortunate thing about this great place — the crazy crowds. Countless people jockeyed in front of great works for selfies, and yet hardly took the time to enjoy what was right in front of their faces. I found that surreal. Tedly wonders what Dali would say.
The crowds didn’t really bother me too much – not as much as Tedly. He often urged me to go more quickly to try to stay ahead of the horde, but that was basically impossible.
Don’t let the crowds stop you, though — this museum popular for a reason. It’s a kick-ass place. So the first tip is try to get there for the first time slot if you want to view some pieces in peace. The official museum website it here.
The next tip is specific to budget travel. We took the high speed train from Barcelona to Figueres to get an early slot and to fit in return stop in medieval Girona. If you take the first train, it can cost much less. We paid only $13.50 USD each for a ticket on the first high speed train at 7:05 a.m. Every train after the first one was double the price.
I do not know if the first train is discounted every day – you’ll have to check it out for yourself. The official train website is here.
The train went 135 miles an hour, and made only one stop. We arrived in Figueres from Barcelona in under an hour – and that was a beautiful thing. We had time for coffee and a bite at a cafe on our way to the museum. (The train did have a cafe car, but it wasn’t open yet.) This was our first time on a high speed train in Europe – and it was a good budget-friendly way to experience it!
After the Dali Museum, to get to Girona, we took the regular train at the second train station in Figueres. this ride cost $6.75 each, and took about 35 minutes.
Girona itself can be seen in a couple of hours. The old wall is fun to walk, and the scenery is breathtaking. We saw the snow-capped Pyrenees Mountains and expansive green fields of early spring. The riverfront in the old Jewish area is colorful, with pedestrian bridges going from one bank to the other.
We didn’t go inside the cathedral because there was admission. Yep – to a Catholic church. Tedly wasn’t too happy about that. The admission is combined with a few historic museums. If you’re super-duper into Girona history, great! We aren’t, so we skipped it.
Just off the waterfront we stopped for a late lunch on the main town square. There are several restaurants there, from fancy to casual. We ate at Nibbles, which has good reviews but was fair at best. The best part was enjoying each other’s time in a new place.
After lunch it was back on a train – the slow, regular way. More than an hour-and-a-half on a local train. Tickets from Girona to Barcelona cost about $10.50 each.
So there ya have it. Two stops on a day trip from Barcelona, if you have a day to spare, or if you love Dali.
P.S. If you ever wondered how guards on old city walls took bathroom breaks in places like Girona, Tedly demonstrates the answer: