by Bob Sparrow
My Spanish isn’t that good, but I do know that Costa del Sol, which is the area we’re going to, means something like ‘sunny coast’, but we are greeted in Malaga (pronounced MAL-a-ga) by a rainstorm. But it’s a light shower that goes away shortly after we get there, so we decide to stretch our legs and go for a walk down to the marina, as Malaga sits on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a Sunday with lots of people out strolling, but very few shops are open. The marina holds one particular boat that gets our attention, named Here Comes the Sun after the Beatles song, written by George Harrison; it’s simply spectacular AND we discovered that it’s for sale – only $195,000,000!
We’re back at our hotel by 5:00 to meet up with our guide and the 10 other people, some from the U.S. some from other parts of the world, who will be joining us on the rest of our journey. At our meeting we enjoy several tapas dishes and some beer, wine or sangria as our guide, Daniel, who is very entertaining, introduces himself and goes through the travel agenda and some rules for the group. The first rule he mentions is, we are not going to be on ‘Spanish time’, which is, if you’re supposed to be somewhere at 7:00, you can show up at 7:30 and not be ‘late’, and you can even show up at 7:45 and you’re still ‘on time’. He says we’re going to be more like Germans on this tour, SHOW UP ON TIME, or you will be left behind!
After our ‘Meet and Greet’, we head across the ‘No River’ – that’s not the real name, but rather what our guide called it, because there is very seldom any water in it – to a hotel that has a rooftop bar 10 stories up. And so we get an excellent view of the city and harbor as we have a nightcap or two, share some stories and watch the sun go down. A great ending to what started out as a rainy day.
Monday morning, we met our ‘local guide’, a delightful, well-informed woman named Lourdes, who knows her way through the narrow, maze-like streets of this city like the back of her hand, while pointing out historical and other interesting sites, with a great sense of humor. Our first stop was a giant food market – it’s fairly quiet because it was Sunday and fishermen do not work on Sunday, but the market was still full of all kinds of fruits, vegetables and meats (mostly pig) and we had a chance to taste some delicious olives and nuts as well as watching a carving craftsman cut razor-thin slices of pork and package them for sale. We also got to see the special carriages created for Holy Week, one holding the Virgin Mary and the other holding the coffin of Jesus. The city’s architecture reflects the interesting history of Andalucía with its influence of Roman, Arabic and Catholic culture. The food here is different and amazing; we usually ate small plates of a variety of food – tapas. Yes, there were times when I hankered for a nice steak or some good pasta, but the food was amazing.
Our afternoon tour was highlighted by the Picasso Museum; as famous, Spanish painter Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga. Our tour guide, Lourdes, was an expert on Picasso’s life and art, so the museum really came alive for us with her as our guide. We finished the evening with another creative, tapas dinner and then at another rooftop bar, just across the river from our hotel, where stories of the days’ activities were shared.
The next morning, after breakfast, we were on a bus for a day-trip to Frigiliana and Nerja. Frigiliana is one of the most beautiful ‘white villages’ of Andalusia; no it’s not made up of only white people, but rather every building in this village overlooking the Mediterranean, is painted white as it gets quite hot here and the white color helps deflect the sun’s heat. We see homes and shops stacked together on this hillside as we walk through the narrow cobblestone streets of this picturesque village.
Our next stop on this day-trip is the town of Nerja, while this city is called the ‘Balcony of Europe, as it sits on a cliff with a spectacular view of the Mediterranean, the main attraction in the town are the caves. Huge caves that now have stairs in them so that you can go down several hundred feet, but the ceilings are high, in fact this is the home to the world’s largest stalactites. Awesome!! I’ll insert a photo here, but I’m sure it won’t do the place justice.
Back to Malaga for our last dinner in town on our own, then get lost in the maze that is Malaga on our way home. But we made it. Malaga has moved into contention as one of my favorite cities in the world. Great food, great wine, great people!
More to come after Memorial Day week