Figueres, the home of Dalí

Figueres is a small city outside Barcelona and home to the fantastic Salvador Dalí. I took the train from Placa Espanya to see the Museu Dalí, which included a separate museum housing his jewel collection, and his mausoleum. The museum consisted of several floors, hallways, and spiraling staircases, with paintings, sketches, furniture, and installations by the artist. The famous “Persistence of Memory” painting is housed at the MOMA in New York, and many other pieces hang in the Dalí Museum of St. Petersburg, Florida.  Melting clocks can be found all over the place, however, in other paintings and sculptures. The jewelry designed by Dali is no less extravagant than his oil paintings, and like an Egyptian pharaoh, his mausoleum is surrounded by his …

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Cultural Recon

The pleasure of visiting a foreign country increases a great deal with some knowledge of the local culture. I’ve been sifting through books and movies to learn more about Chinese and Spanish customs, and here is some of what I’ve been checking out: Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is a classic tale of Spain during the civil war.  Also, his journals from the 1930s-1950s, collected in “By-Line: Ernest Hemingway” portray his own experiences during the fighting.  For language reference, “501 Spanish Verbs” and “Dimelo Tu!” have both proved useful. Linguists claim it’s nearly impossible to attain natural fluency in any language after the magical age of about four, but it doesn’t hurt to try.  “Waiting” by Ha Jin is …

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Travel Tunes

In preparation for spending much time waiting in airports, bus terminals, etc. I’m carefully selecting appropriate music for my destinations.  For Spain, I’m into Natalia Clavier lately. She sings in Spanish over mellowed out jazz breaks.  I heard her first when she opened for Los Amigos Invisibles at the 9:30 club a few weeks ago. Despite only seeing her last two songs, I was impressed.  Los Amigos put on a fun show too, and I’ll be jamming to them in Spain also. Bajofondo, the tango-dance project of Gustavo Santaolalla, is going to be in heavy rotation. Santaolalla, who I heard from his work in movie soundtracks like “Babel” plays a spooky Mexican guitar on his solo album.  South American rockers …

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