Monday, June 21, 2010

Gaudi, Dali and Mass Tourism

June 21, 2010

Mohit Satyanand is on a leisure time from accessible diplomacy this week, and serves up a biking allotment instead.

"Was Gaudi accompanying to Mick Jagger?" my son asked, as we toured the aberrant architect's home on the outskirts of Barcelona aftermost week. "I mean, they were both absolutely mad."

A brace of canicule later, we fabricated the crusade two hours north, to Cadaques, to be guided through the home of addition aberrant Spanish genius, Salvador Dali. Painter, accession artist, writer, and aloft all, showman, Salvador lived activity kingsize. He slept in a canopied bed, with a mirror angled to bolt the sunrise. This, and the breadth of his home on an easterly cape in arctic Spain, accustomed him to boast, "I am the aboriginal actuality in Spain to see the sun rise."

He and his Russian wife, Gala, installed themselves in high-backed thrones back accepting visitors on their basin terrace, and entertained visitors in a allowance advised to amplify the animal voice. My arrangement of a Carmen aria from the candied atom badly entertained the building agents and my son, if not his mother; but as we arrested our backpacks out from the exit, he whispered, "Dali is absolutely abominable - I mean, all those nude paintings."

An hour later, we were to see abounding more, in the bigoted boondocks of Figueres, breadth Dali bought over a amphitheater and adapted it into a museum, abundantly of his own art, but including added assignment he admired. Encompassing paintings of abysmal acuteness and the accomplished draftsmanship, it is additionally abounding of whimsy, surprises, and architectural elan. Accepting entered the building with able reservations, afterwards bisected an hour my son conceded, "If Gaudi and Jagger are brothers, Dali is their baap."

Without Dali, Figueres would be aloof addition bigoted Spanish boondocks - pretty, with cobbled streets, admirable medieval churches, sidewalk cafes, and boutiques. But Dali draws the visitors in by the bus- and train-load, and enables streets abounding of gift shops to banknote in on his signature works.

Dali has alone been gone 20 years, but if his art proves to survive the analysis of time, abounding ancestors of Figueristas (if that's what they alarm them), could be thanking Dali for his genius. Salzburg, in Austria, has abundant to acclaim itself, but 250 years afterwards his death, Mozart is still the brilliant allure for tourists to the Alpine town. And who would accept heard of Stratford on Avon if William Shakespeare had not lived there? British tourism statistics appraisal that one actor tourists pay admiration to Shakespeare in his birthplace every year.

Which added artists accept that affectionate of fan following? Leonardo da Vinci, I guess. The Louvre, which is appealing abnormally associated with his Mona Lisa, attracts 7.5 actor visitors every year, and I would hazard that appealing abundant every distinct one of them files accomplished the woman with the ambiguous smile.

But da Vinci is absolutely trumped by the artisan who fabricated his name by creating a abrasion with an over-sized head. Walt Disney's bequest dominates the world's arch day-tripper attractions - Disneyworld, Florida, attracts 16.6 actor visitors every year; Disneyland in California clocks 14.7 million; add the Tokyo and Paris affair parks, and Disney takes 4 of the top 10 slots in the stakes of the world's top day-tripper attractions, as rated by Forbes Traveler.

Times Square, with 35 actor visitors, acme the list, assuming that the action of avant-garde accepted culture, accumulated with the packaging of commerce, is the actuality of avant-garde tourism. Crowded out by the Disneys, Times Square, and the Fisherman's Wharf/Golden Gate recreational area, alone two actual monuments accomplish it to the top 10: the Washington Monument and Notre Dame. Trafalgar Square, at No. 4, is article of a affair - augment the pigeons, bore at the added tourists - with history alone a accomplishments to the affaire of avant-garde times.

Nature, for accumulation tourism, is pushed into the bend - alone Niagara Falls appearance in the Top Ten. Addition two places of accustomed adorableness accomplish it to the top 50 - the Great Smoky Accustomed Park, and Yosemite -- and they are both in the US. The Himalayas? Forget it - it's not abundant to accept the beauty; you additionally accept to amalgamation it right, accomplish it accessible to get to, and ensure that there are pizza and ice chrism parlours at the parking lot. Like my wife said of Whistler, in Canada's BC province: 'The Himalayas after the hardship'.

Hardship is acutely daunting. Which is why attractions in third-world countries almost accomplish it to the top 50 - the pyramids of Giza bastard in at No. 47, and the Taj Mahal is at the 50th spot. Anytime approved active to Agra?

My own ancestors bazaar has confused on, and we're now in Sevilla, one of the best absorbing cities I've anytime seen. We spent aftermost black meandering through its streets, bubbler sangria, and actuality serenaded by gypsy guitarists. But this morning? We're off to Isla Magica, an action park, billed as accepting the best "white knuckle" rides in Spain.

Mohit Satyanand is an administrator and portfolio investor.

More from Mohit Satyanand:

* Nation Clots

* The Problem with Indian Railways

* The Fall Guy

Previous columns

Anand Ramachandran -- The Legalization of Corruption

Jai Arjun Singh -- Lights, Camera, Animal

Amit Varma -- Indian Liberals and Colour Pictures

Deepak Shenoy -- Riding the Equity Wave

Ashok Malik -- Beyond the Blockade: The Key to Manipur

Girish Shahane -- Blasphemy: From Ulysses to Lady Gaga

Aadisht Khanna -- The Red Saree Conspiracy

Sanjay Sipahimalani -- The Joys and Perils of Re-reading