Our time in Malaga was very lovely, mostly slow-paced and relaxing. Of the four weeks we stayed in a wonderful two bedroom Airbnb at the edge of the Plaza de la Merced, the sky was clear and blue 6 days out of 7.
In the middle of the Plaza stands a monument to a general and 44 other freedom fighters who were executed for rejecting the “divine right to rule” asserted by the king at the time.
They were eventually so honoured by the peoples that all but one of the fighters were buried in in the monument so that the memory of their fight for democracy would not be forgotten (an English soldier was buried elsewhere).Facing the Plaza de la Merced is Pablo Picasso’s birthplace and childhood home. We toured it on a cloudy Sunday (free on Sundays!). I didn’t know that Picasso’s father was a great influence on him in the area of art. His dad was an artist himself and taught art at the university.
The Plaza is home to the Picasso Spanish Language School as well as the bronze statue of Picasso himself. One morning at the conclusion of his run, Don took a selfie with Picasso and shared it on his Facebook page.
On another cloudy Sunday, we walked through the Alcazaba Palace, from the 11th century, when the Moors controlled most of the Iberian peninsula. It would have been quite something back in the day. We chose to walk up to the Gilbralfaro fortification at the top of the hill above, and connected to, the palace. Fortunately for us, the temperature had come down from 39 degrees the week before but it was still over 30 degrees. The reward was a 360 degree view of Malaga and the Mediterranean.
The closest beach was virtually around the corner, but it was crowded, the sand rough and rocky, and the water not that clean (sometimes a yellow scum was visible, yuck!). We found a great beach about 4.5kms from our apartment. We walked there most days and totally loved the warm and clear water and the soft sand that continued out into the sea, all protected by a breakwater.
One day though, the water couldn’t even cool us, as there was an incredibly hot wind coming from Africa that blew all day long. It was our first experience of this phenomenon.
We enjoyed the almost daily walk, the beach and then bebidas at the VOX Restaurant and Bar. We would usually catch the bus back into town.
When we planned our visit, we didn’t realize Malaga hosts one of the biggest festivals in Spain, we were there for the entire ten day event. We headed to the beach for the opening fireworks (preceded by a 15 minute speech!) and the next day we awoke to a parade passing under our window — actually a procession of hundreds of people and dozens of horse drawn wagons. the drivers and passengers were decked out in classic Spanish aristocratic dress. They and the decorated horses all looked quite stunning.
The most astonishing aspect of the festival was that all day, everyday, people of all ages were out in the streets drinking Cartojal, a popular local sweet wine, out of little plastic pink cups. Live music in numerous plazas in the historical district, and along the streets, and lots of groups of people obviously participating in stags/stagettes/birthday parties. Many drinkers, especially in the Plaza de la Merced, looked as if they were 15 or less but no one seemed to care. We read that Spain increased the legal age from 16 to 18 two years ago, but obviously not enforced — cashiers neverask for ID when the kids in front of us were stocking up with bottles of Cartojal. But by late afternoon some of the kids are staggering around and throwing up in the street.
We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Malaga, at a fancy restaurant in the area near the cruise ship terminal. We mentioned the reason for our meal to our server, who at the end brought out a dessert that congratulated us for our 21 years together. Cheers!