You need to escape from cities every once in a while.
Thankfully it isn’t far too far from Barcelona to the glittering Costa Brava. We decided to take Stan the Van to Cadaqués, a whitewashed town so picturesque Salvador Dalí himself chose it as his refuge for when he and his wife/muse Gala needed to get away from it all. Upon driving in, you already feel like you’re going somewhere hidden, as winding roads take you through vertigo-inducing mountains until you see the tower of the Cadaqués’ white church peeking out on the horizon.
They only let visitors into Dali’s house in small groups and we had already missed our time slot, so we parked Stan at the Cadaqués campsite and walked two minutes down the road to Dalí’s house. In stark contrast to his outlandish paintings, the setting for Dali’s house is idyllic, right on the dock of a secluded bay where fisherman’s rowboats dot the shoreline. Upon entering the house though, you’re greeted by a huge stuffed bear blinged out in gold chain necklaces and holding out a tray, mouth open in mid-growl as if to say, “Hey MTV, welcome to Dali’s crib.”
But the house is a very serene space. Most amazing is being able to step inside Dalí’s studio, where an unfinished painting of his still hangs from the pulley-system he devised so he could paint while sitting down.
And then of course there’s his and Gala’s bedroom, massive and filled with light with mirror strategically positioned by the window so Dalí could always see the first light of day breaking over the bay without having to get out of bed.
Things start to get more surreal behind Gala and Dalí’s closet, where they built a room shaped like the inside of a sea-urchin with acoustics so that if you stand in a precise spot you can hear everything whispered inside it. Not to mention the collection of tiny silver spoons. Now I’m not saying Dalí did drugs, but if he did, this was probably where he and Gala would start tripping out. Because the sea-urchin room opens up into a garden that is absolutely Dalí, with cracked eggs you can climb into, Michelin men, a penis-shaped swimming pool and matador-flanked pimp corner.
Gala and Dalí had the right idea: Cadaqués is the perfect for hiding away in the hills, getting lost in narrow white streets and taking that much-needed break from reality.
Photos by Claudia Gemperle