Follow one of our students, Carter, as he recounts his exploration of Girona and the Dalí Museum with ALBA Study Abroad:
Early Friday morning under a bright blue sky, bleary-eyed ALBA students gathered for a full-day excursion to Northeast Spain. The outing included a visit to historic Girona and the town of Figueres, to see the magnificent Salvador Dali museum.
While most students slept, the bus ride sped through the countryside past motorcyclists and papyrus trees lining the highway. Off in the distance, the snow-capped Pyrenees Mountains complemented the surrounding greenery. ALBA staff member, Viktor, gave those of us who weren’t snoozing, an in-depth biography of the masterful artist, Salvador Dali.
As we approached historic Girona, Viktor provided a great overview of this city known for its striking medieval architecture and the walled old quarter, Barri Vell. Our first stop found us at the looming steps of La Catedral de Girona, famously known for being the second widest cathedral in the world. The oyster white stone perfectly reflected the sunlight as it created an ethereal glow. Viktor told us that the cathedral is used to film parts of the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, which excited those students obsessed with the series.
After a tour of the old city from Viktor, groups of ALBA students were free to explore on their own. We strolled through the Jewish Quarter along cobblestone streets, browsed in boutique shops, and meandered at a nearby park surrounded by towering trees rife with blooms as ivy, covered the ancient stonewalls.
Our next stop in Girona was a quaint restaurant. We gathered for lunch around a large table, sipped wine, and ate delicious bread covered with freshly seasoned tomatoes. Aromas filled our table as we dined on goat cheese crepes, grilled vegetables and spring onions. Our waiter enthusiastically recommended the spring onions as the growing season was coming to an end. The onions were a bit of a struggle to peel due to the scorching temperature and charred layer but were delicious and well worth the effort. Our feast for the eyes and stomach continued as plates of juicy lamb, steak, chicken, and trout lined our table.
After an incredible dessert capped off by an espresso, we boarded the bus for a short trip to the town of Figueres to see the fabulous Salvador Dalí museum.
Figueres and Dalí Museum
Salvador Dalí was born in Figueres, and upon his death, he was placed in a crypt at the center of the museum. Dalí made a name for himself in surrealist works of art, which conveyed the emotions Dalí was feeling at certain times of his life. The icon is perhaps best known for “The Persistence of Memory,” the painting of melting clocks. Dalí even took up jewelry making, and a whole separate exhibit of the museum was set aside for his masterful works.
The outside of the museum was painted reddish pink, and sprinkled with loaves of bread to symbolize Dalí’s love for his wife, Gala, who Dalí believed to sustain him much like bread. Upon entering the museum I was swept away. Dalí’s works of art each converted a different and significant story and emotion.
The masterpiece, which stands in the main room, just after his crypt was the most mind-boggling piece in my opinion. A man, with his bald and cracked head, hung in despair, and a hole going through his stomach. What could it mean? What was Dalí going through at this time? This experience was truly mind-boggling for the students, and it left them speechless on the trip back home.