Girona, Figueres and the Salvador Dali Museum, Catalunya, Spain

I wake up at 07:30. It was a much cooler night. I had to shut the windows. I pack and make my way to the bus station. I catch the bus to Girona. My flight home is from Girona airport. Before seeing the town and flying home, I will take a day trip to Figueres, to see the Salvador Dali Museum.

Girona is a pleasant city, calmer than Barcelona. The temperature is 26 degrees, much cooler. I get to the tourist information office and get a map. I make my way to the youth hostel. On entry I see a sign saying they are full. I ask and the lady says they have one more dorm bed, it seems I am lucky. I leave my bag in the cupboard, and head back to the train station. I buy a train ticket to Figueres, which coasts €2.55. Whilst the ticket machine gives some instructions in English, the tariffs are unclear. I ask a cute girl at the tourist information at the station, but she does not know the difference in the tariffs. I opt for the express (blue) button on the machine, and then the top option, assuming this is a full adult single fare. The price suggests so.
I have a coffee and a pastry at the café. I had my typical fruit and sesame biscuit breakfast on the bus to Girona this morning.

The train leaves platform (via) 2 at 10:36, 2 minutes late. I see an English speaking couple with mountains of bags, including what looks like a laptop in a hard case. I can’t imagine backpacking with so much stuff, or a laptop. I guess a laptop is ok if you stay in hotels. The view is ok, being a mix of built up areas and countryside. The train is fast, modern and air conditioned. The ticket inspector comes through asking for tickets, and seems happy with mine, so I must have made the correct choice at the ticket machine. I am looking forward to the Dali Museum.

We stop at Flaca. The seats in the express trains have a slide-able back part, so they can face in either direction. It’s a clever idea. They also tell you the name of the next stop. The trains in the UK are becoming very dated now, in comparison.

My stay in Tossa was good value. Maybe €20 per day, excluding my €13 ferry ride, which was paid for my picnicking, and not eating at restaurants. The cash I took out in Tossa is almost untouched. [It later turns out that my credit card was copied in Tossa, but the bank cancelled it, so it was OK in the end.]

Figueres is an old town that offers little in the way of attractions, with one exception. The Salvador Dali Museum, which is real treat for anyone with an interest in the Spaniards art. Dali was born in Figueres, and although he lived for many years in the USA and France, he also lived nearby on the coast. His decision to build the museum in his birth town secured its fortune and a share in the tourist income. The building is full of delights, but you do find yourself walking back on yourself on more than one occasion. The sculptures are as impressive as the paintings. Many of Dali’s famous paintings are housed in the museum. I found it interesting that some of my favourites where postcard size, and yet others where 20m square. There are many sketches and non-abstract paintings in the galleries, showing his obvious “regular” artistic skills. Upstairs can also be found some of Dali’s collections of other artists work. I particularly like the painting of an artist painting a subject in front of a mirror. A sort of abstract self-portrait.

I walk Figueres for an hour after, killing time before the next train back to Girona. It is a town with a series of charming shady squares and a small rambla. I catch the 14:30 train back to Girona. It is 36 degrees.

In Girona, I go back to the youth hostel and check in. I have to buy a stamp to start YHI membership. I rent sheets, the total for a dorm bed is €25. The hostel is an YHI hostel and has strict rules. Quite different to the hostel in Barcelona, which was all about fun. There is no curfew, but there is a night staff. The price includes breakfast. The hostel also offers half-board and full-board. The hostel is very lively, with many young people. I have read that the hostel provides accommodation to the students of Girona. This seems to be the case, and there are loads of kids here. In the reception there is a sign stating that they are full, however my five bed dorm room is empty? A German man behind me in reception comes into the dorm shortly after me. It occurs to me that Girona is not regular backpacker territory. The last few days have taught me quite a bit about where to go and not to go to meet backpackers.

I take a walk amongst the buildings of the old town. The Cathedral is impressive, as are many of the other surrounding buildings. Of particular note are the various gardens and the tree lined entrances to the buildings. Not being catholic, or religious, I find the plants and trees of more interest than the buildings themselves. The Arab Baths are closing by the time I get there (18:55). I will return tomorrow. I walk along the top of the high town walls, which mark the boundary of the medieval city. The views are good. The walk takes me to the south of the city. I walk amongst the people and buildings of the newer city. The pace is much more frantic than the ancient part of town I have come from. I buy some supplies at the supermarket.

I walk back to the old town. The cash machine refuses to give me any cash [I later find out my credit card was copied, and the bank terminated it.] I return to the hostel and grab my other bank card, and then get some cash. I walk for a long time, around the streets of the old and new towns. I have reserved too much time for Girona, and find myself with little to do. There is a good contrast between locals and tourists. I catch up with my journal at a café. Tomorrow I will walk to the park, before catching my bus to the airport to return home.

In the evening I get a falafel (€3) from the kebab shop next to the youth hostel. It is excellent. Make with great produce and great care. I then get a beer from a café. I love the Mediterranean street life, with late night snacking. I enjoy the way I can grab a beer at a café, occupy the table on my own and take my time. People always seem happy and chatty, eating and drinking into the night. You almost never see a drunk Spaniard though.

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