Oh Malaga…such a change from Toledo and Madrid. First off? Food was suddenly affordable again! Don’t get me wrong, prices weren’t bad in Madrid, but compared to what we paid in Malaga and the freshness quality of what we got? Malaga won hands down!
Also, buckle down…it’s going to be a long one!
I want to start off by stating that the ~3 hour high speed train ride from Madrid to Malaga INCLUDED a MOVIE!! My €80 train ticket afforded me more than my 9-hour Air Canada Rouge flight did.
We arrived in Malaga in the mid-afternoon to some mixed rain. Mixed as in periodically torrential to none at all. We found our hostel after some careful mapping out by moi~ No joking, it took us nearly half an hour to walk there and turn at the correct streets. The hostel was more like an apartment that an old lady rented out all the rooms to guests. It was neat and tidy, and in a perfect location to the entire city center of Malaga.
Our first action of the day was to find some supper. After a quick search to what some of the best (and affordable) tapas restaurants in the city were, we went off in search of Los Gatos. We had such a wonderful experience there I’m actually going to do a full post about it another day. For now you simply get a cute shot of the outside.
After supper, Erin and I went a-wandering along the city’s port. It was there that I’ve discovered that Dunkin’ Coffee (AKA: Dunkin’ Donuts) is in fact hipster coffee…go figure.
This is the Chapel of the Port of Malaga. Erected as an oratory in 1531, it was later moved in 1719 and inaugurated as a chapel in 1725. It was used to say mass for the people of the sea.
Commissioned by the Danish Royal Family, there is a cast bronze statue of Hans Christian Anderson along the Plaza de la Marina. Apparently the author loved the city of Malaga, and wrote about it in his book “In Spain”. He wrote: “in no other Spanish city have I been as happy and as comfortable as in Málaga”.
I particularly like this night time shot of the Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica de la Encarnación (also know as the Malaga Cathedral). They lit the area around the cathedral very nicely, and there were many cafes surrounding the plaza for you to sit and enjoy the view.
Malaga Day 2! We knew that we wanted to go and see the Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro so we went off in search of breakfast somewhere near there. We found a gem of a place in the Plaza de la Merced called Cafe Con Libros (which actually has their own website! Granted it’s all in Spanish, but oh well!) Before I say anythign else about this cafe, please take not of the picture and the fact that they had a few tables where the chairs were in fact swings!!!
Breakfast here was awesome and completely reasonable. I had the tostada o pitofo con serrano-y manchego (a toasted sandwich with serrano ham and manchego cheese), a cafe latte, and a fresh squeesed orange juice all for €3.30! It was so tasty as well. Erin went with their breakfast special which for €8 included fruit, ham, eggs, hashbrowns, coffee…and an entire pint of beer. She was offered two types of wine or beer. Neither one of us expected as large of a glass as she got.
Next stop, the Roman Theatre and Alcazaba!
(It was after this point where my camera started flashing low battery, so I apologize for some decreased quality.) The Roman Theatre was very well preserved. There were places that were completely fine to walk around it. They also had some sections quartered off where they were still undergoing excavation.
I have nothing but great things to say about the Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro. The Alcazaba was designed as more of a museum. There were plaques on all the walls (which were unfortunately only in Spanish) and displays to see. You walked through the lower fortress along a certain path. There were gorgeous gardens, amazing stonework on the floor.
The detail work was incredible. Nearly all the ceilings and floors were ornately done up.
To get to the fortress castle you had to walk up a very steep pathway. Both Erin and I are rather fit and even we were red in the face by the end. I was super happy to have the hand-painted fan I had just bough (there’ll be a picture at the bottom where I do a souvenir snapshot).
Castle Gibralfaro is now my current favourite fortress/castle that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. I’ve seen a number of castles in a number of countries, but this one amazed me. I loved the elaborate gardens,
the pathways you could walk around throughout the entire perimeter,
It even had fun little looky-loos (actually sentry towers, but I kind of like my word for it better).
The view from the top was breathtaking. I have to admit though…see the Malaga Cathedral in the distance, I couldn’t help but think that it would be the perfect spot to activate my eagle vision (Curse you Ashley with your AC!! ^^ You can even see the ledge you would be crouching on.)
Another great view from the walk down. This was taken at about the halfway mark.
Taking advantage of the daylight, and only rather soft rain, we decided to walk through the gardens along the harbour. We had walked around the outskirts of them the night before, but I didn’t want to go walking down the unlit paths in the dark.
The gardens were beautiful. It was there that we met this charming fellow. Called the Biznaguero, they were a type of vendor common to Malaga that specialized in the selling of the biznaga, a type of posy created carefully out of jasmine. He is carrying a bunch to sell. Also, the bird is just a bird that would not fly away from the picture. He is not in fact part of the statue.
I wish I would have taken more flower shots. There were more birds of paradise than I’ve ever seen before in my life. I took to calling Malaga the city of free seasoning. Everywhere we turned there were common herbs and whatnots growing along all the flower beds and trees. There was an entire green space filled with rosemary. Lime and Lemon trees were everywhere. Dates, figs, chestnuts, and almonds were also common sights. The trees were so overburdened with fruit that they were falling off the trees. I can’t help but wonder that when the lights go down, shopkeeps go foraging? I know I certainly wanted to.
By this point it was now after 6pm. Both of us were feeling rather tuckered out. We went back to the hostel. While relaxing and trying to decide where to go for supper, our German housemates came back. It was a group of university students (one master student, an engineer, one doctor, and one fellow doing a phD). It turns out that they also hadn’t eaten yet. We all decided to go out for tapas together at a place they had found. It was a night filled with laughs and food. Erin introduced them to a beer rating app that they got very excited about. We turned in around 11pm. We would have to get up around 5am the next day in order to get to the bus by 6am.
Because on our third day in Malaga we actually took a day trip to Morocco and I’m going to be writing that as a seperate post, I’m going to instead press on to our last day in Malaga. As you always should, we started our day with breakfast. It was also here that I came across the decadent amazingness that is a café bombón. The rest of my breakfast was inconsequential to how happy this drink made me. What it is is one-half espresso, and one-half sweetened condensed milk. Don’t judge me! I am still nursing a broken heart about how I can’t find one here in Ireland ^^ They get the two distinct bands of colour by slowly adding the condensed milk to the espresso, however it is most commonly mixed before consumption.
We decided that we were going to casually walk around and see the rest of Malaga. So that morning, after breakfast instead of turning left like we normally do at our major intersection, we turned right. It was as we were stumbling around the side streets that we came across the Ataranzas Market. We quite honestly had no clue that it was there or that it was so close to the main street.
After the market, we made our way to Malagueta Beach. This beach is quite popular with the tourists. Even in October in what is considered “off season” there was still many people on the beach, if not in the water (if you look carefully you can see them there along the edge of photograph ^^)
Somewhere along our journey on the beach we came across this fellow roasting fresh seafood over a fire. Good lord did it both smell amazing as well as look mouth watering. If it wasn’t for the fact that that squid he’s turning in the picture was €20, I would have most definitely bought some. The sardines were reasonable enough at €5 apiece, but I was a bit squeamish about buying a fish with it’s scales and guts still attached. Plus…you know…they’re eyes were looking at me ^^
In the few days we had been in Malaga, we had tried every day to visit the Museo Alborania Auladelmar (The Malaga Maritime Museum) it had been closed. The first was because it was a national holiday (Columbus Day), the second it was too late after coming back from Morocco, and this time we just missed it for siesta time. Many of the shops did in fact close from 2-4:30pm everyday. Determined to actually get in, we went to one of the bars close by and got some drinks as we waited for it to reopen. An espresso with whipped cream for me, and a beer I can’t pronounce for Erin.
And boy, we I glad we waited! I haven’t had that much fun in a museum in a long time. The Museo Alborania was very hands on. Right at the start they lady in very minimal English sat us down and said that there was a 15 minute video for us. It was super informative! It gave a bunch of information about the history of the Mediterranean coast line. Did you know that once the space between Spain and Morocco (the Strait of Gibraltar) was once blocked and turned the Mediterranean Sea into a desert? I did not (granted this was very long ago…approximately 5.5 MYO).
While there wasn’t much for live sea life, there was an impressive collection of dried…
Best part of the museum? The mock up of a ship’s bridge. There was a joystick behind the wheel that let you control the boat on the screen. It also involved lots of dials that could be turned and switches that could be flicked. It reminded me of the time myself (20 at the time) and my sister (17) spent half an hour playing in the fake cockpit in one of the planes at Pearl Harbor.
With our day drawing to a close, it was time for one last supper. We had varying degrees of quality paella in Madrid. We had pretty darn decent paella in our hostel and only moderately okay paella at a restaurant. And the paella in Malaga blew both of those out of the water. I had seen pictures of the Arròs negre several times and had yet to manage to find it a restaurant that we’d finally decide on. Well…today was my day to be adventurous! Erin ordered a chicken and seafood mix and I finally got my black paella. The dish gets its black colour from squid ink, but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying it! It is delicious and doesn’t taste any fish-ier than standard seafood dishes. I enjoyed it immensely! My only qualm with it was that they cooked the shrimp in it whole. I spent a good deal of my meal digging out shrimp legs and shrimp antennae out. It put a damper on my meal…but not enough that I wouldn’t order it again!
It was also in this meal that I conquered my fear of shrimps with heads. Now…I love shrimp, but things with heads freak me out. Shrimp with heads and legs doubly so. I wasn’t about to waste some potentially amazing shrimp though…scary heads be damned! Through a mix of squinting my eyes to avoid looking at it and being happy that the rice mixture had dyed it black so I really couldn’t see its eyes did make it a bit easier. All in all, I did it! After supper it was back home to try and cram all the things I’d bought into my carry on.
Because I didn’t take any pictures on my trip home, you instead get pictures of my souvenirs from Spain and Morocco! Yay! Front and Center is my new favourite thing: my hand painted reversible fan (it has different flowers painted on each side). Granted it’s not of much use to me right now with Irish Winter starting, come summer I’ll be ready! I also bought two damascene-style necklaces in Toledo (one is hand-made, the other is done by machine). Top right is a small metal canister that I go in Madrid that is actually a travel sewing kit! With cats on it!! Also included in this pile is my Spanish X-Men comic (I try to buy a comic book from every country I go to. I have a nifty little collection growing back home. My favourite still is my Norwegian Calvin and Hobbs call Tommy og Tigern), two traditional Spanish sweets (nougat and marzipan) to share with Mister S., and two cute notebooks from China (yes, I know I have a problem…no, I probably won’t stop buying cute notebooks ^^)
And fabric! I’ve gone into great detail about how much I loved the Spanish fabric shops at my other blog here, so I’ll relieve you from having to read about it twice ^^
Last but not least, look at all of this seasoning!! The three on the right were from the Atarazas Market and the three on the left were from the Moroccan spice market. I paid considerably more for my Moroccan spices, but I can’t complain too much. The ones from Spain though were only €1 each!
And that concludes the Spanish part of my excursion. I apologize for how terribly long this post was! I thought my one about Madrid was long! I am hopefully going to get the post about Morocco up before November 1st because that marks the start of a very special time for me….NANOWRIMO!! More on that another day.
Till next time~