Girona and Figueres, Dali and Picasso

by Andrew Stein

We’re off on another day trip in our rental car.  First stop: Girona.  We heard good things, but we had no real idea of its history.  First, there were the Romans, then the Visigoths, then the Moors, and then finally a Catalonian county starting in the 8th century.  One part of the old city that was particularly interesting to us was the old Jewish Quarter.  It may be the best-preserved Jewish quarter in all of Europe.  A Jewish community had lived there until late 1400’s when the Catholic Monarchs gave Jews the choice to convert or leave.  The other highlight of Girona for us is the churro guy – freshly deep-fried churros sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar makes for a wonderfully warm snack on a chilly morning.

Not far from Girona, we continue on to Figueres, birthplace and now resting place of Salvador Dali.  There, Dali built a very eccentric museum to house much of his art.  In his words: “I want my museum to be a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be a totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream.”  We may have experienced that sensation, but we definitely left feeling that Dali was a weird, eccentric, egotistical artist.  Quote from Lindsey: “this guy’s nuts!”

On a different day, but related because he’s another famous artist who spent some time in Catalonia, we visit the famous Picasso Museum in Barcelona.  Along with enjoying one of the most extensive collections of his art anywhere in the world, we also enjoy learning a little more about him through listening to the fictional novel Cooking for Picasso in the car as we drive around Catalonia.  The book really paints a picture (pun intended) of how the artist had many mistresses in addition to his wives.  He was married twice and had four children by three women, or at least officially.  The book may suggest otherwise :).