Salvador Dali was born in Catalonia, and the only properties he ever owned were in Catalonia. He bought a small house in Port Ligat in 1930 and stayed there for several months every year until Gala, his wife, died in 1981. He enlarged the house all the time so now it a a strange building with a complicated lay-out on many levels and a garden and other outdoor places. We had a guided tour and it was a strange experience with surprises around every corner.
He was born in Figueres and the most important Dali museum and collection of his wark are there. A bombed theater building was renovated and Dali himself decided everything, sometime he explained why, but often we have to guess why.
It was impossible to take good pictures, but here are couple.
La Bisbal d’Empordà is a center for ceramics and we visited a small workshop with 1 (2) workers. He had started at the age of 14 and he claimed “As long as it is round I can make it”. And he demonstrated bay making several pieces from one lump of clay.
He then showed us how he decorated the items before burning.
Costa Brava is the most eastern part of the coast to the Mediterranean. We could actually see the eastern part of the Pyrenees . So Costa Brava is a rocky coast.
Along this rough coast were small towns. Originally I assume they were fishing villages, but clearly tourism was the main source of income now.
We visited a couple of these villages and here are some impressions from them.
One of these towns had a t-shirt with it’s name on.Who can read the name?
I found out by visiting the exile museum in La Jonquera close to the French border that I knew very little about the Spanish civil war i the late 1930s. War is always a tragedy and in this war the big losers were the democracy and Catalonia. More than half a million people crossed the border to France where they were not very welcome. Others fled to Africa, Mexico and various other countries. Many orphaned children ended up in the Soviet Union and were never heard from again.
This experience is still important to the people in Catalonia and is probably one of the reasons they are so skeptical to the central government in Madrid. They feel that is strongly related to Franco’s old party.
May be because I did not know about this, or the illustration of the consequences of war, it made a deep impression on me and educated me as well.
We drove up north close to the French border and the Pyrenees. It was a beautiful landscape and we stayed in a really fine hotel.
The surroundings were great both close to the hotel and the view.
But in the morning we experienced the Tramuntana wind, blowing from the Pyrenees, and that was a strong wind. It was actually hard to walk into the wind. It is said to influence the mind, “locat per la Tramuntana” and made people like Dali behave differently.
It was a beautiful area, actually how I imagined rural Spain to be. (sorry, I mean Catalonia).
Building castells, human towers or pyramids, are a Catalonian specialty. It was not the season for shows, but we visited a group training.
We first got an introduction showing the different types of towers, from several stories up one on one and that must be really challenging. The base could be several people, we saw seven and must be of excactly same hights. And then they clinbed on top of each other.
On top was always a little girl and the construction was done when she raised her hands. Then they could slide down again. The “top girls” were the only with safety items, a foam helmet.
Some of the girls had their own training program.
I was able to take pictures of one girl from the floor and all the way up to the top av a castell.
It was clearly a tough job to form the base.
It was a mixture og men and women, of very young and older ones, the activity is very including. The instructor was a woman with very clear voice, bur she giggled when I showed her this picture.
We spent more than two hours with the castellers and that was great fun and may be the high point of the whole trip for me.
Sant Jordi is the Catalanian patron saint. He is elsewhere known as St.George, the boy scout’s patron saint to be celebrated on April 23. I did that as a scout ages ago and it was quite special to celebrate him again in a complete new situation.
Part of the celebration is that men give roses to selected women, while women give a book to her significant other. I Girona it seemed that all the bookstores and flowwer shops had moved out on the streets.
In addition a lot of organizations had their places and the streets were full with people from school classes to housewives to retired people and everything went smoothly.
I found the difference between the gifts to be somewhat strange, so I asked a few people the following question; Men give roses to women, A rose will last one week. The women give a book to men. A book lasts forever. Is there a deeper meaning in that difference or are the mutual expectations so different? I got two different answers. From men: laughter, from women: “that is a really interesting point!”