I hope you’re enjoying the posts and pictures about our Southern Spain Trip. Only two more cities to go!
After being in the tiny town of Ronda, we both felt a sort of culture shock when we arrived in Málaga. It was back to the big city for us! There were department stores, larger crowds, much more traffic, and the complete big-city vibe. We arrived later than usual since the train ride was longer and we had to stop and change trains. In the photo below, our luggage and bikes were standing by while we waited for the second train. We traveled so light! It was great.
We arrived at Málaga station!
By then it was well-past lunch, and we needed to eat somewhere. We decided to go to the mall, El Corte Inglés, for a fairly quick and familiar meal. We’ve eaten at this mall quite a few times so we knew what to expect.
Our hotel was way out of the way and there were very few bike lanes here! We were surprised because it was such a big city; we just assumed that there would be better bike lanes. I think there may have been some that went around the city, but they certainly weren’t in the area that we needed them to be. Alas. We got to the hotel eventually and were too tired to go out and explore right away. We unpacked, settled in, and did a little laundry in the sink. Why not, right?
Night fell and dinnertime quickly approached. Casey searched for some restaurants on his phone, but when we walked past them, we weren’t that impressed with their menu. We kept walking and eventually found a little sports bar type of place whose menu looked decent. It turned out that we had the BEST cod fritters we’ve ever tried. They are called buñuelos de bacalao. The dough itself was flavorful enough, but then they drizzled a thin line of dark honey or molasses on top, and that really made them exceptional. There’s another dish I’ll have to try making at home. The other appetizers or tapas we ordered were alright, such as meatballs and croquetas (ham or chicken fritters, like hushpuppies), but the cod fritters really made the meal. Casey had a mug of tinto verano which is red wine mixed with either soda, carbonated water, or even carbonated lemonade. It’s very popular in Spain to mix wine or beer with something carbonated. Tinto verano is not as sweet as sangria (which is wine with fruit juice and chopped fruit), so it really retains its wine flavor.
We walked back to the hotel and enjoyed the ambient alleyways.
I’ve noticed that there is a LOT of graffiti in Spain, but no one seems to mind. There are also an equal number of beautiful murals on walls and doors, so maybe that balances it out. We stopped at a minimart to buy bottled water and treated ourselves to some ice cream. And, surprisingly, we found a 2010 remake of “Hawaii Five-0” on TV, so we watched that for a little bit (we changed the TV back to English so it was more enjoyable). Then we turned in for the night.
The next day was really our only day to explore in Málaga. We started with our usual breakfast. You know the drill. Then we made our way downtown.
By the time we got downtown, we wanted a little pastry. It was hard to find a breakfast pastry, so we settled on a nice slice of carrot cake. Not a bad compromise.
The place where we got the carrot cake was actually a bar, so I snapped a cool photo of the many bottles’ reflection on the stainless steel countertop. Casey said it’s an alcoholic’s desktop background. I’m inclined to agree.
There was a café called Breakfast at Tiffany’s, although we didn’t go inside. And there was a man controlling a Michael Jackson puppet dancing to the classics like “Billy Jean” and “Beat It.”
Well we started our tour at an ancient, outdoor Roman theater (Teatro Romano) where plays most likely took place hundreds of years ago. Then we walked through the Alcazaba (a palace/fortress) and finished up at the Gibralfaro Castle (basically another fortress/vantage point).
The theater must have been lovely in its hay day. I wonder if it used to be covered, or if it was always outdoors. Of course, there was an adorable cat walking around the theater. It was quite friendly too.
The theater was free to enter and sit on the steps, but we had to pay a small fee to see the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle. Even though the Alcazaba was a fortress to guard the city and keep watch for pirates/enemies, it really looked more like a sanctuary of gardens. There were beautiful trees and lush flowers all around the cold stone, brick, and marble edifice.
I just loved the tiny doors that were everywhere. Leanna-size! Were people smaller in those days? Or did they just not want to use more materials to make larger doors? It seems like all the doors we saw were either super tiny, like you see below, or incredibly huge, standing at ten feet tall or more.
As my dad says, Casey is always jumping! It’s his favorite way to spice up a photo!
I love a nice picture with in-camera blur. The first one is clear and in focus, and the other two spiral out of focus. I take a lot of pictures that would make great background images, like on a computer or even for a calendar. This was a brick ceiling, by the way.
I feel like this post lends itself to less writing and to more photographs.
We think Casey is peering down into a dungeon or prison. I feel like I read somewhere that this pit was a place they kept prisoners, but I can’t remember where I read that. Regardless, it was very dark and appeared to be very deep. There was a lock on the gate as well, which probably means that it used to open up at one time.
There was very little interior space that we walked through. Most of it was outdoors, and the little that was indoors had huge windows and doorways to let in the sunlight and fresh air.
I absolutely loved these miniature carved arches set into the wall. They mimic the larger, full-size arches that you see above. I tried to make Casey’s head look like a bust, but it didn’t work out so well. Maybe they used to put vases or real busts into these display areas? It’s just so cute! I don’t know what to call them though. Built-in shelves? We saw more of these in the next city we went to as well.
The end of the Alcazaba treated us to views of the city, the ocean, and the Gibralfaro Castle at the very top of the hill. The walkway used to connect so you could walk inside the walls to get to each building, but they closed it off. Now you have to walk outside and around to reach each fortress separately. There are also busses that take you up and down the hill in case you don’t want to walk. We ended up taking a bus up the hill to the Castle, and then walked down afterwards in the sunset and cool evening air.
The tour of the Alcazaba is a one-way trip, so we had to turn around and walk back the way we came to the main entrance. We saw some new sights and architecture that we hadn’t seen on the way up though, so it was still entertaining. The details in the stone carvings and tilework are just magnificent.
We left the Alcazaba and wandered over towards the beach. On the way, we saw a nun, lots of palm trees, and a sidewalk filled to the brim with shops selling souvenirs.
You may not have known that Málaga is on the coast! It was wonderful to be back in warmer weather after our freezing cold experience in Ronda. We thoroughly enjoyed not having to layer our clothing and wear rain pants to stop the wind from chilling us to the bone, even when there was no wind. If we had more time, we may have spent awhile sitting on the beach or even walking through the water, but it was nice to see it and enjoy the blue skies at least.
In the photos above, I think you can sit under the umbrellas for free, but they charge you if you rent lounge chairs. I could be wrong and they might charge you for sitting under the umbrellas too, but that seems a bit stingy. The photos below show an outdoor BBQ with Málaga’s signature dish of sardines on a stick. I read that it’s a must-have in the summertime.
Like I said before, we took a bus up the curvy road and got off at the top of Gibralfaro Hill. There was a small café so we got a snack and visited with some more cute cats.
Then we toured the Gibralfaro Castle! I was honestly expecting it to be more of a traditional castle where you walk inside and see bedrooms and dining rooms and huge, dusty curtains. However, this castle was really just another fortress. Maybe there was an “inside,” but we never found it. We just walked around the perimeter along the high walls and admired the views of the city.
That’s an old cannon in the picture above. There was a small museum with a cute diorama of the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle. You can see the circle at the bottom of the hill which represents the bullfighting arena, and then you can see our own photograph of the actual place! Every city has its own bullfighting plaza, and I would love to go see a fight one day. That would be an epic experience since its so foreign to us.
And then we began our walk down the hill. It was long and steep and covered in flowers. And it offered a lovely view of the sunset.
Dinnertime! We found a great Italian place with yummy food and adorable Christmas décor! There were Santa hats everywhere, and my personal favorite was Santa’s clothesline! They decorated a little patio with his clothes. There are actually two clotheslines if you look closely. The one on top has bigger clothes, and then there is a tiny clothesline beneath the patio with tiny clothes! So cute! I’d love to recreate this somewhere in our house.
We roamed the crowded streets for a little while before taking the bus back to the hotel. We don’t know why the streets were so packed but, as you can see, they were wall to wall with people! We zigzagged through the maze of people and alleyways to find a better way out of downtown. This trash can made me laugh because it says “use me” in Spanish. Clever and concise.
Málaga was supposed to be the end of our trip, but we decided to go to one more city the next day – Granada! Before we went back to the hotel, we went to the train station to see what was available, and the attendant said that taking the bus was quicker and cheaper. So we walked across the street to the bus station and bought bus tickets for the following day! Up until then, we had only taken the train, so the prospect of riding a charter bus the next day to a historic and popular city like Granada really made the trip seem like a classic European adventure.