Crikey. I spent today warding off period cramps, which is not something I usually have trouble with. After battling exhaustion for the last few days, I finally succumbed and barely left the house all day, apart from to fetch pads, crisps and a chocolate bar. Have you ever seen a more stereotypical bunch of items?
Somehow, I managed a bout of super concentration for about an hour, and read some more of my book, which is interesting but not the most page-turning read. Then I finally caved in and went back to bed for a nap. It was one of those naps where I wasn’t entirely sure if it was still 2019 when I woke up.
We got pizza – again – for tea. That restaurant must think we’re a bit sad. But the truth is it’s easy and they’re the best pizzas ever! After bringing them home we got ice cream again. It was nice to walk out since I hadn’t really done much. We were expecting Proyecto Mandarina, the brass band, to be playing again but they weren’t unfortunately. Still, the square was pretty busy for a Tuesday night so the atmosphere was great.
Finally, after days, I was able to get up and train. I did a leg workout just outside the apartment, and yet when I finished I’m not sure where the rest of the day went. I finalised some plans for Malaga and then we went for quite a long walk to explore the other side of the town that we hadn’t seen. It’s newer and not as pretty but still felt very comfortable and secure. There’s a sports centre with an athletics track and pool, a huge supermarket, a golf club and even more shops, hotels and restaurants.
I was nearly, properly cold for the first time here. It was a much colder day and a bit cloudy but very windy, so every time the sun went in the breeze got chilly, but every time it came out it was very warm. Made sunbathing a bit difficult, but we managed! I got a bit more reading done in between the moments when some workmen were drilling into the very cliff face we were sat on – which wasn’t uncomfortable so much as just noisy and dusty.
For tea we went to the Italian restaurant that Joe’s grandparents go to – and for good reason; the food was delicious. All the staff know them and look after them well. The atmosphere in the square was still electric, and there are still musicians playing every night despite the fact that summer is really over. As we walked back the wind picked up dramatically and I thought we were going to get a huge storm like the one from one night last week, but it stayed mostly dry and just windy.
I skipped training because my legs already killed from yesterday and I knew I’d be walking around Malaga all day. We packed an overnight and grabbed the 9:30 bus which got us there for around 10:30. We wandered around for a while, getting our bearings and exploring the sites of the city. I’m ashamed to say we had Spanish McDonald’s for lunch – but hey, we were hungry and needed something quick. Not to mention that it was considerably cheaper, as we’re currently budgeting for four meals out in a 24 hour period. Also, they do a goats cheese and caramelised burger here. Also also, their potato wedges are hella good.
After wandering around some more we found a coffee shop/juice bar that had been recommended to me, El Último Mono, who do coffees, juices, bagels and more with an awesome industrial vibe. We stopped for a drink to kill time and soak up the atmosphere before heading to the hotel to check in.
We really struggled to find the hotel, which was more of a hostel and tucked into the tiniest side road imaginable. They use 4 normal apartment buildings, so their main entrance – not labelled! – was nothing more than a door off the street. It was the only one open though, so after walking round the block 3 times we went inside, and found a room on the left which wasn’t in view from the road and housed their check in desk. After that small panic, I really like the place. 4 buildings, each divided into apartments with 3 rooms and a shared bathroom and kitchen. So when we let ourselves in, we have a key for the front door of the building, one for our block and one for our room. I’d certainly stay here again, because it feels a bit more authentic than rocking up to a swanky hotel and swiping a key card. The rooms are basic, and the kitchen is definitely as simple as possible, but the bathroom is newly done and the place is far from dirty.
On our wanders we saw Malaga cathedral, a fish market and the hospital, which is an incredibly gorgeous place to show up with a broken leg! There are also plenty of shops to browse including Tiger, where I bought a few small birthday presents because it seems that all my friends are born in September and October.
The main thing I wanted to see while we were here was the Alcazaba, the old moorish fortress, so after a rest in our room we went and found that. We payed to get in both the Alcazaba and the gebralfara. The views and the walk were incredible, but I didn’t really get the history – there were no info signs around. Occasionally we passed small plaques with numbers on which makes me think that perhaps and audio guide was an option, but we hadn’t realised that. Online afterwards I found out that it’s a moorish fortress built in the 11th century, captured by the catholic monarchs after the siege of Malaga in 1487. Unfortunately we didn’t get into the palaces but the rest of the fortress was just as impressive.
It rained that evening from about 7, as we were walking back from the Gebralfara, the the paving stones became so slippery under my shoes that a steep descent was quite nerve wracking and I was pleased when we got back to the tarmac road. Not for long – all the pedestrian areas of the city were paved in that same stone so really it’s a wonder I got to dinner without a trip to that fancy hospital.
We had dinner overlooking the cathedral – or rather, with the cathedral overlooking us – which, in a moment of sentimentality, reminded me of seeing the Sagrada Familia with my mum, where we were so overawed by the size of it we had to sit down and have lunch as we looked at it, just taking it all in. There was a cluster of maybe five restaurants, but in the end we made the right choice. We had what might have been my favourite paella ever, and the staff were so jolly and friendly. Our waitress was happy to have a chat as she served us and although it was clearly a popular tourist spot – everyone around us was English – it still felt authentic.
We were going to find a plaza and sit with a drink for a while but they actually brought out complementary glasses of sweet wine with our bill, and we were so exhausted after climbing fortresses that we didn’t need any more! So we wandered home, past a cello player playing Hallelujah which made me want to cry for some reason, and fell into bed.
I slept surprisingly well to say I was in an unfamiliar, sparsely furnished room, and clearly Joe did too, because he would. Not. Get up. But, after dragging him out, we found a nice cafe and had some breakfast, then wandered to la Plaza de la Merced, a huge square with benches, cafes and a large monument in the middle. Apparently it’s been used as a market place since the fifteenth century, maybe earlier, and has been an open space since the Roman era. I could just about understand the writings on the plaques on the monument – commemorating 48 men who died in 1831, but wasn’t sure of the story. Wikipedia says that the men were shot on the order of Ferdinand VII…I’m none the wiser. There’s also a statue of Pablo Picasso there, sat on a bench outside the Picasso foundation.
We returned to our room to gather our things – both our stuff packed into a kanken made for a pretty heavy bag And we didn’t want to walk around with it for longer than we had to – and then headed to one of Malaga’s 20+ museums, the museum of glass and crystal.
The website made this seem like a huge, clinical art museum, with white walls and high power bulbs and little white plaques denoting artist and date, and the notice about all visits being guided in a number of languages suggested that groups of 10 would be waiting for their allotted time window. Instead, we wandered into what looked like a medieval tavern and spoke to who we later found out was the collector, paid our fee and met Ricardo, our guide, who was prepared to take just the two of us round. Turns out this was a private house and collector!
The building was gorgeous, with pieces from every era and furniture from France, Italy, England…..I couldn’t help feeling as I walked round that this was like my mum’s dream house! We weren’t going to visit that museum as I thought it was something I’d like to do with my mum, but it was the museum that stood out most to me, and I’m really glad I did it. I’ll take her one day! For now, descriptions won’t do it any justice, so here are some photos.
After the glass museum, we wandered down to the sea front to explore the marina. There’s a port where there were a few cruise ships, and a yard of some sort where they were loading cargo vessels. On the other side were restaurants (12€ for patatas bravas no thank you) and private boats. It was really pretty to walk along, but we were hungry for a meal less than 40€ each, so we found a burger chain and ate. After that, all that remained was to meander back through the beautiful city to the bus station and catch the bus back.
After two days of trailing the length and breadth of Malaga, I underestimated exactly how tired I would be, so today was a down day, spent doing nothing more than eating, reading and sunbathing. We did walk briefly into town for a coffee and a crepe around mid afternoon, and then explored the other beaches that we hadn’t been to yet. Mostly we just saw cats. Lots of cats, everywhere.
We went back to our favourite tapas place for tea, although none of us actually had tapas. I had the most gorgeous meal of onions, peppers, tomatoes, sliced potatoes, egg and chorizo. There was a guitarist playing in the square, Pablo Alcazar, who sounded wonderful and played some pieces that were really quite sentimental to me! Round the corner, on the Balcón, the band Unsuspected we’re back. We saw them play in the square a couple of weeks ago; they do some covers and some of their own stuff which has a kind of muted psychedelic vibe? Anyway, those poor musicians seem to attract drunk dancing men every time they play in Nerja but they take it very well!
Knowing that the holiday is drawing to a close, we’ve all been desperately clinging on to the sun. This book I’m reading, the Spaniards, is tough going, hardly holiday reading, but I’m finding the sections that interest me and reading those. I’m not an economist or a politician; I’m more interested in the social, historical and linguistic sides of things, so those sections about the changes in government require concentration.
We took a trip down to our local beach around mid afternoon, after the worst of the heat was over. The sea was much calmer than it has been – but also lots colder! We barely stayed in for half an hour before it was time to dry off and catch some sun to warm up. After 3 weeks I’m still a nice shade of Pale(TM) but at least I haven’t burnt.
In an attempt to use up the food in the fridge, tea was a mucky mixture of leftovers, Chinese takeaway rice and chicken, and pizza, but it was amazing. Too tired to walk into town, we sat around trying our hands at the crossword in the paper, something I haven’t done in years!
The peace of our last day was nearly jeopardised by some workmen drilling into the cliff face again, but thankfully it wasn’t so bad. We had a lazy morning and I read some more in the sun. We spent most of the afternoon at the beach, swimming and sunbathing and dozing on the warm sand. I collected some more sea glass too.
Reality started to set in as we all packed up our things back into the cases they came from, deciding what to take back and what to leave behind, finding space for new purchases, and searching nooks and crannies for loose change and jewellery we might have lost. For tea we went back to the Italian for our last night and sat for ages. I enjoyed my last good Spanish coffee, and then bought an ice cream too. It’s the last night, I had to! The band Unsuspected were back in the square so we listened to them for a while before slowly wandering back.
Woke up nice and early this morning – the first time I’ve been up before the sun! We packed up the final things and tidied the place up before hauling all the cases into the taxi and setting off. I’m posting this from the taxi, watching the scenery whip by. I will miss the terraced hills and dusty views and glorious golden sun, but I’m also looking forward to crisp autumn mornings and blankets and jumpers…until next time, Spain!