Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Curiosities of Figueres

Figueres, app. 40 km's north from Girona, is one of the three most important landmarks of Salvador Dali. He is by any no means one of my favorite artists, but when in proximity, I just had to go to check out the Dalí Theatre Museum in this nearby town.

La Rambla, the main plaza of Figueres sleeping through siesta.

The museum looks very much "Dalían" in and out. Who else would have thought of this weird egg-shape design for a building and little knots covering all of the red walls. Surreal, literally. I spent good three hours there exploring the exhibits. I have to admit that my opinion and knowledge of the guy evolved a great deal. I hand't had any idea how important his muse-lover-wife, Gala, actually was for him. Such dedication... love of a lifetime... amazing.

Curiosity 1: Exterior of the museum.

I also do have to admit that I quite liked some of the stuff in the museum, like the drawings on the "Rue Trajan" collection on the third floor. The finesse of the touch and detail is overwhelming.

Don Q.

The other thing that probably never seases to amaze me is the complexity of the names of the artworks =) I guess Dalí never heard (or cared) about the idea of "keeping it simple st*****" or he just wanted to make sure you won't get it wrong =) =) Example below...

Curiosity 2: Explanation.

The Artwork. I can find the tiger and one of the Lenins, can I?

After visiting the museum the siesta got the better of me again. therefore I had to come up an idea that doesn't require necessarily opening-hours. So, I walked around a bit and saw the signs pointing to the direction of a fortress. This could be something accessible even during the siesta. I trekked up to the hill and entered the Castell Sant Ferran, supposedly the biggest fortress built during the era of Enlightment in whole Europe. Whoooa, sooooo cool. I just went there for the views =)

There was nobody else there, but it was open, yeah. The guy in ticket-office was bit strange but I managed to get past him eventually. He just was so determined to tell me that they will close the place up after three hours, but that I was allowed to stay only one hour. Then he gave me a map and pointed out the spots where there would be information about the place. So off I go....

And reach the first information point. Yes, there is a big number one painted on a plate and a sign of audio. I turn the little map over and see the instructions that at this point I should listen to the first entry in my audio-guide, which I obviously didn't have, because the strange guy didn't give me one. Tja, I can't be bothered to go back to the office to ask for one, so I just continue, in silence. It would probably have been boring anyway...

Curiosity 3: A silent audio-guided point at Castell Sant Ferran.

All in all, the fortress was mostly just a big wreck. Views over the region were naturally pretty cool, as they usually are from tactically important military establishments. The thing I liked the most about it, was the interesting filtration of light inside the buildings.


Beautiful light in a small chamber,
purpose left in the dark forever.

After my stroll around the fortress I was standing by the trench observing the deer residing down there. And guess who comes up to me? The guy from the ticket-office and says "vamos, vamos...". Ok, I'll go, don't sweat, although there was still five minutes to go of my given hour. Some people just have tight asses....

Since the siesta was still setting obstacles on my route, I decided to just have a nice lunch back in downtown adn then visit a church or something.

There is a cathedral just next to the Dalí Museum, which I went to see. I have this habit of lighting a memorial candle for my grandparents when I have that chance, so I looked for such opportunity here also. At first I tought that, strangely enough, there is no such thing in this church. The I spotted out these little panels in from of the side altar and a crusifix. Couldn't figure it out in the first place - a control board, but for what??? So, I went to have a closer look and then it dawned to me.

It was not a control board although the little blinking lights would easily indicate so. -This was the candles I'd been looking for. So I had to come to a conclusion that they had moved to the next technical level in this church. One just need to drop some coins into a slot and set of led-lights will lit up for you. In my opinion, and forgive if somebody's religious views are hurt by me saying this, they kinda lost the idea there. There is absolutely nothing living or organic in these leds. To me the whole idea of remembering your family-members and friends no longer there, sort of concentrates to the living flame. But perhaps this is only a matter of taste.

Curiosity 4: A memorial candle slot-machine.

After an inspiring day of many kinds of curiosities in Figueres I took the train back to Girona and there I met the very last curiosity. The train ticket for this 40km's costs only 2,75€!! So unfair, in Finland you'd have to ad one digit in front of the comma, approximately ten euros to it.


Last week I had a chance to visit Catalunya in Spain. My boyfriend was due there with a truck full of theatrical scenography, so I decided to tag along. We left Basel early on Monday morning and drove through southern France arriving to our destination, Girona, the following afternoon. It was nice to go trucking again, since we've done it earlier a lot with Mnemopark. And countryside along the highway was really beautiful this time of year, because all the vineyards were blazing in all imaginable colors of red and yellow.

Somewhere near Narbonne.

This was my first visit to Girona, some 60 km north from Barcelona. The town turned out to be very pittoresque albeit sleepy. In one afternoon you can see all the important sights. The town is divided by a river - on the east side the old part and on the west the new stuff. The new is like in any other European city with posh fashion boutiques and jewelleries. You get it right, not much of interest there.

The old town is nice with it's narrow lanes, especially in the Jewish quartier. In the daytime, during the off-season week, it's very empty there. All the locals are having their afternoon siesta and there is very few tourists around. But one will want to go walk around, because it's the only time when you really see the surroundings. So, I practically had the streets to myself.

In the evening everything springs up to life, when the locals crawl out from their lairs and hit the streetside cafes and restaurants for dinner and social life. I guess, for me it would take some serious adjusment before I got used to this two-part daily routine.

Panoramic view over the town seen from the old city wall.
(Also my first experiment with photo-stitching)

Peeping to the south through a narrow window in the wall.

Cathedral on the right.

Old town lane.

Sunday morning.

Girona by night seen from the Fishermen bridge.

Girona has relatively lot of parks which are easily accessible. Especially the ones next to the old city wall are quite pretty. I was amazed how greenish they still manage to look in November. All in all it was hard to believe that we're really in November there. Weather was bit cloudy mostly but the temperature hung steadily around 18'C. Nice after the plus-minus zero in Helsinki on only the previous week =)

Park in the south seen from the old wall.
(And photo-stitch number 2)

Cathedral behind the park of Placa dels Jurats.

Església de Sant Feliu in approaching sunset.

I've been to Spain before so I was really looking forward to get some seriously good food and wine again. The region didn't disappoint me in this sense, but I was surprised how expensive everything has turned out to be. Nice lunch you'll still manage to get for around 15€, but dinners are about to cost you bigger bucks. Well, who cares, the food is good and "tapas" is always great option.

Ugly pic, but delicious tapas - the spanish snacks.

One point of curiosity was a film crew staying in the same hotel as us. They were shooting some 19th century epoque-movie on the big stairs of the Cathedral. I bumped into these people on the very first night in town and talked with them lengthly about the differences between creating lighting for movies and stage. It would have even been cool to continue this comparative discussion, but our paths didn't cross anymore.

Anyway, I've had sort of brief introduction on movie-lighting during my studies, but I've never seen it in big scale, real life, before. Movie-technicians invited me to come over and see how it works, which I later did. It was interesting since the equipment they use are partly the same, but also something completely different -like this big glowing daylight-globe below.

Night shoot.