Category Archives: Cultural Travel

Tripping with Salvadore Dali: Five Favorite Works of His Art in Figueres, Spain

Story and Photos by

The reason I went to see the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain, an easy day trip by train from Barcelona, was because my husband and I are fans of this flamboyant self-promoter who had such a unique eye for a surreal world. I’ve seen his works in several museums around the world – mostly his paintings – including the gallery in Barcelona, but this is like a Dali Disneyland … so much to see in every corner, such bizarre variety, you kind of just want to run around like a little kid. I think if you did actually do this, it would feel not dissimilar to a weird amusement park ride, like maybe the kind that would be featured in an episode of Twilight Zone.

The museum is unquestionably worthy of a full day’s visit. If you are pressed for time, though, these are five of my favorites that I would personally suggest as highlights not to miss.

ONE: A person could make an entire post just about the jewelry gallery, which was both the most unexpected and my favorite exhibition in the museum. Dali felt that jewelry should be designed and made regardless of the practicality of wearing it. Though to be honest, I’d love to walk around wearing the heart-shaped brooch made of rubies that actually bulges out at intervals inside its gold casing to look like a beating heart.

I would also take delight in wearing this brooch of skulls, especially if my husband had given it to me as a Valentine’s Day gift. Nothing says “I love you” like a heap of golden skulls.

Dali Museum in Figueres
Emeralds and amethyst … naturally the perfect combination with golden skulls.

My personal favorite, though, was the “space elephant.” How exactly I would interface with it, I’m not sure … a necklace perhaps, or maybe I could affix it to a tiara … but I thought it was pretty cool.

Dali Museum in Spain
The space elephant – elegant in its own surreal way.

TWO: Be sure to bring some coins with you and don’t be shy! Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to slip the coins into slots on some of the artwork. As you enter the glass dome of the museum, for example, a shiny Cadillac, in the exhibit titled “Car-naval,” plays a little soundtrack through the front grill upon receipt of your coin. My husband and one British kid were the only people I ever saw utilizing the slots to experience a further dimension of the artwork. Maybe people think the slots are only part of the visual art design, but they do actually function! It’s a fun and quirky little detail; you can feel like you’re inside a seek-and-find picture hunting for the slots.

Dali Art Museum Travel
The Cadillac in “Car-Naval” plays a tune for your coin.

THREE: The Palace of the Wind contains a lively ceiling fresco. In the style of much of Renaissance architecture and art, you tilt your head back to take in the scene on the ceiling … but rather than illustrations of ancient Biblical stories or heavenly figures loitering calmly on clouds in contemplation, the feet of Dali himself and his wife, Gala, who often served as his muse, come crashing down from the sky as if they might stomp you to bits and pieces. (And then Dali would surely glue you back together in the most unlikely of configurations.)

Dali Musuem Art
The soles of Dali’s feet reach down toward your head (if you doubt it’s Dali, notice his signature moustache).
Dali Museum Figueres
The feet of Gala are also ready to dance upon your head.

FOUR: The Mae West room might be the most famous part of the museum, and you will likely have to stand in line to ascend the stairs and look out at the scene from the vantage point Dali intended, but it’s fun and I don’t think overrated. I mean, how many artists can create a famous visage out of apartment furniture? The viewing platform provides the hair to frame the apartment into a face. It looks cool in a photo, but you can’t grasp the scale of it without experiencing it first hand.

Dali Museum Travel
The Mae West room with a couch for lips, paintings for eyes, and the warmth of fire in her nostrils.

FIVE: While his paintings are the most renowned facet of the body of Dali’s 2-dimensional artwork, there is quite a sizeable collection of drawings and sketches on display in Figueres. Because of the relative rarity of these works in other museums, I think it’s very worthwhile to check them out here.

Dali Museum in Figueres
From the collection of black and white drawings.
Dali House in Figueres, Spain
Early work, more of a sketch.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Museum hours vary with season, the most restricted hours in November through February at 10:30 to 18:00, and open longer in the summer. In August the museum even opens late at night. The admission price is surprisingly affordable at 7 Euro for an adult ticket. I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more surreal and enjoyable experience for such a price, brought to you by one of the most legendary figures in the sphere of modern art.

Dali Chicken
Every museum needs a chicken.

profile_slovakia500 (2)About the Author: Shara Johnson plots her travels from her home in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. You can follow her adventures abroad at, her next trip is Iran in April 2014.  You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

The Vatican Museums – Three Paintings Out of Hundreds – Why These Three?

The three pictures in this post are some of my favorites though I took literally hundreds. These pictures from top to bottom are more interesting though – read on to find out why.

When you are in Rome, whether it’s for a day or a week, one thing you have to do is visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If the ticket price of 15 Euros sounds a little high, let me assure you, it’s not. What you will see inside is worth every penny and more.

I’d like to introduce you to some of the wonders that I came across as I wandered through this incredible collection of the world’s most wonderful art.

As in much classical art, there was an abundance of angry dudes and sexy nudes – and there was a bunch of art too.

the hand of God

1) Despite the Angry Italian guys saying No Picture, No Video. Nearly everyone was taking photos in the Sistine Chapel. That included me. When I showed this picture to my wife she was disgusted “Aggghhh, how obscene to think you could depict God in a painting. You can be sure that painter is in hell.” Not exactly what I was thinking as I looked at one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces.

Coming in, you find a staircase and as you wind your way up it, you will notice that there are more than a few canoes and canoe paddles from the many places that Catholic missionaries have landed, converted, and conquered. For some reason these struck me in a bad way…although it was a magnificent collection of canoes. Moving on…

Cistine 3-d

2) When I first saw these saints painted in the niches, I thought they were real people. A photo can’t capture just how three-dimensional some off these paintings are…astounding.

If you are only going to visit one museum in Rome, certainly it should be the Vatican Museum. Add in a trip to the Colosseum, and a stop in Vatican City and you’ve followed the Vago itinerary to see Rome in a day. It wasn’t built in a day, but I feel like these three stops and the transport between them give you a good chance to get a feel for the what was once the capital of the Roman Empire and is still a masterpiece of a city.

The price of the Vatican museums might seem kind of steep at 15 Euros but when you consider that it includes some of the most famous art the world has ever produced and the celebrated Cistine Chapel, suddenly it starts to seem more reasonable. Museo Vaticani is a must see.

Vatican museum

3) I’m not a religious man and I’m nowhere near Catholic, but this painting spoke to my soul. Note the hanging bodies, the monk, pleading and the people in the background seemingly just having a chat…this was real life. It lives on.

Powerful and amazing. More to come soon.

Vatican Resources
Boutique Hotels Near the Vatican
Hostels Near the Vatican
Vatican Museum Books
Rome Tourism Books
Vatican Trip Insurance
Hidden Facts of the Vatican

Art, Torture, Laundry, and Wallpaper in Ghent, Belgium – More Fun Than You Think

For me, Ghent was just a day trip from Brussels, but if you want to stay in Ghent, here is a complete list of hotels in Ghent with user reviews and multi site price comparisons. Ghent, Belgium Rafael was kind enough to pick up some maps from a very cool tourist office so the next day I took a shorter train trip to Ghent, a very hip, very cool little town. Ghent Wallpaper

Ghent has the coolest wallpaper store in the world. Wow.

Mango Ghent Sadly, it rained all day, I woke up with a sore throat, and it seemed there was immense construction going on, Ghent toilet historic as a result of some or all of the above, it seemed that just about everything was closed…maybe because it was Monday. Ghent, Belgium Anyway, I brought my dirty laundry and found a laundrymat, then I explored the Gravensteen castle Ghent Gravensteen Castle Gravensteen Castle which had an excellent torture museum. Waterboarding, old school style Ghent Torture Museum plus a guillateen which was used for numerous executions. Ghent Torture Museum Took a lot of pictures, Ghent walked around in the rain with my laundry, Ghent felt my flu getting worse, had some Belgian Fries and then headed back to Brussels, hoping that I didn’t have swine flu. I didn’t really care if I had it, but I didn’t want to pass it on to Raphael and his daughters. Ghent ashtray

Ghent also has the coolest ashtray I’ve ever stuck a butt in.

for some interesting Ghent History: (Originally published 08 October 2009)