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Sat Dec 20 2014: A Dali-ance at the Monastery

Just a quick update as to what we've been doing the last couple of weeks, which is not very much.

We're really enjoying staying in our apartment here in Calella. The weather is sunny most of the time. Neda has taken up jogging on the boardwalk every couple of days, shopping in the market in the mornings and coming up with new dishes to cook for us. I've taken up doing nothing. Life is good.

Wet ride to the Dali Theatre-Museum. Yes, those are eggs crowning the top of the building...

We found out that the Salvador Dali museum was nearby. It's in Figueres, about an hour north of here, near the French border. Dali was my favorite artist when I was in university, I had a print of his melting clocks, "The Persistence of Memory", pasted up on the wall of my dorm room just like most of the undergraduates I went to school did.

Of course, the day we planned to ride over, it rained. Of course. But we were stubborn and decided to go anyway. The thinking was that we were going to spend the entire time inside, so this was a perfect day as any to do it and not miss any sunshine.

Outside the Theatre-Museum. Yes, that is an egg dressed up in papal robes. Yes, that is a deep-sea diver on the balcony.
Yes, those are statues holding gold loaves of bread over their head... :D

I love the surreal and absurdist style of Dali. It's just so weird and appeals to the side of me that likes to poke fun at everything, making comments and jokes that most people don't get. In my mind, I always picture Dali creating his works of art while snickering away, amusing the only person that he ever intended to amuse: himself. I totally get that.

Part of the fun of Dali sculptures and paintings is verbally describing them to someone who hasn't seen them
"Yeah, so there's this old black, vintage car in the courtyard. There's a hood ornament welded to the car. It's a huge Venus-de-Milo type of statue - big boobs, big hips. It's huge. No, it's not a foot high, more like 10-feet tall. Yes, welded onto the hood like an ornament! But wait, there's more... Behind the car is a stack of tires, it's even taller than the hood ornament. Then on top of that stack of tires is a long pole with a boat on top of it. Dripping from the boat are these huge drops of water that look like testicles!

I swear I'm not making this up. I have a picture of it!"

I love Dali...

One thing I never knew about Dali is that he also made jewelry

A separate building houses a collection of jewelry, most of them made of gold inset with precious gems. The rooms are dark, the only thing lit up are the jewelry. Dali himself is entombed in this building in a crypt on the first floor.

The pieces are quite beautiful and show a different side of the artist I never knew about. The above is a hand mirror decorated with gold coins and a stylized Dali signature that he stamped on all of his works.

"Figure at a window"

Dali's primary muse was his wife, Gala. Almost all of his paintings and photos are of her. The only other female model that he used was his younger sister, Ana Maria, shown here in his famous painting, "Figure at a window".

My primary muse is Neda's yellow F650GS. Almost all of my pictures are of that bike...

This style of painting is what Dali is most known for.

I was a bit disappointed that his most famous surreal paintings are not on display in Figueres. The Persistence of Memory is currently housed in the Musueum of Modern Art in New York City. :(

That's a neat looking couch...

Sometimes a different perspective is needed...

I'm sure Andy Warhol was in part inspired by the works of Dali. He once said his paintings are "hand-painted dream photographs". So apt. He was one of a minority of artists that actually became famous during his lifetime, due in large part to the self-promotion he and his wife did.

You can see part of Dali's upturned moustache reaching up to his eye here

We didn't really do a lot of riding in the last couple of weeks, but we did get out to see Montserrat on another occasion. This time we looked for a nice, sunny day to go out.

Unfortunately, the weather is very different up in the mountains than by the coast

Montserrat is set amongst the peaks of Catalunya, about 50 kms north of Barcelona and only 45 minutes away from where we were in Calella. It's a great area to go hiking and to get some spectacular views of the hills and valleys below. Surprisingly, it was me who organized this hiking excursion. An early Christmas gift to Neda... :)

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey amongst the clouds

Our bikes climbed over 1200m (4000 feet) above the coast and the temperatures plummeted as we ascended. The sunny day in Calella was replaced by a cold, heavy fog and as we reached the town of Montserrat, the famous Benedictine monastery (Santa Maria) was shrouded in mist.

We had brought all of our hiking clothes, but because everything was obscured by the haze, we debated about whether to actually go or not. We didn't really feel like hiking around inside a cloud for the entire afternoon. After a quick sandwich break, the early afternoon sun started burning through the mists so it was Go Time!

Truthfully, part of me was hoping that it would have been too cloudy to hike: "Hey, at least I made the effort, right Neda?" :(

The Monastery is the most-important religious retreat in Catalunya, many residents do at least one overnight pilgrimage
in their lives to watch the sun rise over the peak of Montserrat

View of the Monastery from the cable-car, mist is slowly being burned away by the sun

We take a cable-car up to one of the peaks of Montserrat so we can hike down the mountain. Hey, this may be a Christmas present to Neda, but I'm not that crazy as to offer to actually hike *UP* a mountain!

Neda is excited to be hiking above the clouds

We never got to use our hiking clothes. It was way too cold so we just hiked in all of our warm motorcycle gear and boots...

One Tree Hill

Montserrat means "Saw (serrated) mountain" in Spanish

On our hike at the summit, we were surrounded by these jagged fingers of rock that reached up from the valley due to the differences in erosion and weathering of the limestone rock throughout the ages.

You know how you can walk around with a pained expression most of the time and when someone points a camera
at you and tells you to smile, you can turn on a happy face for an instant? Well, this is what that looks like...

It wasn't that bad, the weather turned out to be sunny, although it was sooooo cold up there!

More saw-tipped peaks

Tall fingers of rock overlooking the valley, must be popular with rock climbers

Going back home, the weather turns nice again!

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