Málaga City. SetMeravelles revisited.

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After my recent visit to Málaga, I decided that as both the city and the province have so much to offer that I should revisit the Setmeravelles for Málaga and dedicate an entry to both of them. First up, the city. You can still read the original Setmeravelles entry for Málaga here. Después de mi visita reciente a Málaga, he decidido que la ciudad y la provincia ofrecen tantas maravillas que debería mirar de nueva a las Setmeravelles de Málaga y hacer una entrada separada por la provincia y la ciudad. Primero, la ciudad. Todavía puedes leer la entrada original aquí. 

Málaga has a population of 569,000 people, making it the second largest city in Andalucía after Sevilla and the sixth largest in Spain. It’s home to two of the most famous Spaniards outside Spain, Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas. It also has a lot to offer tourists and malagueños alike. Malága tiene una población de 569.000 habitantes y es la segunda ciudad de Andalucía después de Sevilla y la sexta ciudad más grande en España. Es el lugar de nacimiento de dos españoles conocidos en todo el mundo, Pablo Picasso y Antonio Banderas. Ofrece mucho para los turistas y también para los malagueños.

Alcazaba
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The Alcazaba of Málaga was built by the Hammudid Dynasty in the 11th century and is the best-preserved alcazaba (Arabic for “citadel”) in Spain. It offers some amazing views of the city, and entrance is 2,20€, or 3,30€ for a combined ticket with the Castle of Gibralfaro. La Alcazaba de Málaga fue construido por la Dinastía Hammudid en Siglo XI y es la alcazaba mejor conversada en España. Tiene vistas preciosas de la ciudad, y la entrada es 2.20€ o 3.30€ para una entrada combinada con el Castillo de Gibralfaro. 

  Castillo de Gibralfaro
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130 metres above the city of Málaga lies the Castillo (Castle) de Gibralfaro. It was built at the beginning of the 14th century by Yusuf I of the Kingdom of Granada. It’s located next to the Alcazaba and costs 2,20 to enter, or 3,30 with a combined ticket to the Alcazaba. It also has spectacular views of the city. Situado a 130 metros sobre la ciudad de Málaga es el Castillo de Gibralfaro. Fue construido al principios del Siglo XIV por Yusuf I del Reino de Granada. Está ubicado a lado de la Alcazaba y cuesta 2.20€ para entrar. Una entrada combinada con la Alcazaba cuesta 3.30€. También tiene vistas espectaculares de la ciudad. 

Catedral
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The Cathedral of Málaga dates back to the Renaissance, although it has a Baroque appearance. The tower is 84 metres/276 feet high and the church is technically unfinished, which gives it the nickname “La Manquita”, or “One-Armed Lady.” La Catedral de Málaga es del Renacimiento, aunque el edificio es de la epóca barroca. El torre tiene altura de 84 metros y la iglesia todavía no es completa de construir, que le da el apodo “La Manquita”.

Teatro Romano
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In 1951, they discovered the old Roman Theatre, which is at the steps of the Alcazaba. It dates back to the First Century B.C. En 1951, descubrieron el Teatro Romano antiguo, que está ubicado al pie de la Alcazaba. Fue construido en el Siglo I a. C.

Museo y Casa Natal de Picasso

Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga in the Plaza de Merced in 1881. Although the artist moved away from Málaga when he was only 10, the city still boasts of his fame today. His birthplace is now a Museum, and there is another Picasso Museum in the Palacio de Buenavista. The Museo Picasso Málaga opened in 2003. Pablo Picasso nació en Málaga en la Plaza de Merced en 1881. Aunque el artista se trasladó de Málaga cuando tenía 10, la ciudad todavía habla de su fama hoy. Su casa natal ahora es un museo, y hay otro Museo de Picasso en el Palacio de Buenavista. El Museo Picasso Málaga abrió en 2003. 

Museo Carmen Thyssen (Yet to discover)

The Carmen Thyssen Museum focuses on 19th century works from Andalusian artists. It opened in March 2011 and features many items from Carmen Thyssen’s personal collection.  El Museo Carmen Thyssen es el hogar de obras de Siglo XIX de artistas andaluzas. Abrió en marzo de 2011 y tiene muchas obras de la colección personal de Carmen Thyssen. 

Centre Georges Pompidou (Yet to discover)

The French Centre Pompidou opened a temporary branch in Málaga, El Cubo (The Cube) that houses about 100 works from the Pompidou 20th and 21st century collection. It opened in 2015. The permanent display will study the influence of Picasso. El Centre Pompidou francés abrió un museo temporal en Málaga, El Cubo, que es el hogar de unas 100 obras del la colección de Siglo XX y XXI del Centre Pompidou. La colección permanente estudiará la influencia de Picasso. 

Return to Málaga.

 

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You know a place is special when you just returned and you already want to go back because there was just too much to see and do. Sabes que un sitio es especial cuando acabas de volver y ya tienes ganas de volver porque había tanto ver y hacer.

I had previously been to Málaga capital in 2009, when I went to Gibraltar for the day. I was back to go to Ronda in 2013, and I’ve been wanting to go back to do the Caminito del Rey. My plans for the trip changed a LOT these past two weeks, as my original plan fell through (road trip through Jaén to Toledo, where I could make my way back to Bilbao, capital del mundo), and I had to buy the cheapest flight back to Bilbao at the last minute. I wish I had gone for Wednesday instead of Monday as I was NOT ready to come back to two weeks forecast of rain from a place where the sun shines 300 days a year. Había estado en Málaga capital una vez antes en 2009, cuando también fui a Gibraltar por el día. Volví a la provincia para visitar Ronda en 2013, y he querido volver a Málaga provincia para hacer el Caminito del Rey. Los planes por el viaje cambiaron mucho durante los últimos dos semanas, como el plan original me cambió y tenía que comprar el vuelo más barato a Bilbao en el último minuto en lugar de hacer un roadtrip por Jaén y Castilla La Mancha antes de volver a Bilbao, capital del mundo. Ojalá comprara el vuelo de miércoles en lugar de lunes porque no quería volver a la dilluvia que me esperaba en Bilbao desde un sitio donde hay 300 días de sol cada año. 

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My plan to walk the Caminito del Rey also fell through, as when I went to get tickets in early January, they were already “agotados” (sold out). I was torn between Antequera and Nerja for my backup plan. Tampoco pude hacer el Caminito del Rey, porque cuando fui a conseguir entradas en enero, ya estaban agotados. No sabía si iba a ir a Antequera o Nerja como mi Plan B.

I’m just going to have to go back to Málaga, folks. Voy a tener que volver a Málaga, chicos.

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I caught a Vueling flight from Bilbao too early Saturday morning, and after switching places with a mother so she could sit with her two kids, I got an exit row to myself. Score. They were quite happy to have a bilingual person there anyway, even if I did sleep the entire flight. I arrived in Málaga about 10, and I caught Cercanías into Málaga capital without problem. Having carry-on baggage meant they did not lose my baggage this time! Cogí un vuelo de Vueling desde Bilbao demasiado pronto el sábado, y después de cambiar asientos con una madre para que pudiera sentarse con sus hijos, tenía una fila de salida para mí mismo. ¡Toma! Estaban contentos tener una persona bilingüe en esa fila por si en caso…aunque dormí durante todo el vuelo. Llegué en Málaga sobre las 10 de la mañana, y cogí Cercanías al centro de Málaga sin problema. Como solo tenía equipaje de mano, no perdieron el equipaje esta vez.

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As my AirBNB host had some commitments spring up on him last-minute, I spent the morning meandering the mean streets of Málaga. I had a “pitufo”, what they call tostadas, con tomate, of course. I found one of my favourite cafés in all of the Greatest Península of the World, Café con Libros, is still open. I remember spending some time there with wifi back when there was little wifi in Spain to be found. (I found Málaga not to be as connected as Bilbao, where we even have public free wifi in most of the plazas). It still remains one of my faves, and it has a great location in Plaza de Merced, the same plaza where that famous painter Pablo Picasso was born. (His birthplace is 3€ to enter. I went before, so this time I skipped it.) Mi anfitrión de AirBNB tenía unas cosas de hacer de último momento, y por eso pasé la mañana explorando las calles de Málaga. Me tomé un “pitufo” con tomate, el nombre los malagueños dan a tostada. Después, encontré uno de mis cafés preferidos en toda la mejor península del mundo, Café con Libros. Recuerdo pasar tiempo allí usando su wifi cuando España no estaba muy conectado al mundo de wifi. (Tengo que decir que Málaga no es tan conectado como Bilbao, donde hay wifi libre en casí todas las plazas). Todavía es un café estupendo, y está situado en la Plaza de Merced, la misma plaza donde nació el gran artista Pablo Picasso. Su casa natal cuesta 3€ de entrar, y como había estado antes, he decidido saltarlo esta vez. 

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After a tapas lunch, I checked in AirBNB, and things went great. I caught a siesta before heading to the alcazaba. I only had 40 minutes to explore it, but they were 40 minutes well spent. For those interested, it is free on Sunday afternoons after 2 pm. It normally costs 2.20 or 3.30 for a combined entrance to the castle. Después de una comida de tapas, fui al piso de AirBNB, y era genial. Me eché una siesta antes de ir a la alcazaba. Solo tenía unos 40 minutos para explorar, pero era 40 minutos bien pasados. Para los interesados, cuesta 2,20, o 3,30€ con entrada combinada con el castillo, y la entrada es gratis los domingos a partir de las 14.00. 

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I had another coffee at an overpriced, overrated Café de Viajeros (Travelers café) and watched some of the Carnival parade before having an early dinner at a tapas restaurant I would return to on Sunday evening called Mesón La Alegría. I highly recommend it. Me tomé otro relaxing café con leche en un sitio caro y sobrevalorado, el Café de Viajeros, y vi parte del desfile de Carnival antes de cenar pronto en un buen restaurante de tapas donde también cené domingo. Se llama Mesón La Alegría, y os recomiendo. 

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Sunday morning I woke up, had my pitufo con tomate, and caught the 10:35 bus to Nerja from the Puerto de Málaga bus stop. I will write more about Nerja in a separate entry, but it was a great visit. My original plan to hike got changed when I saw how incredible the views from El Balcón de Europa were. (Nerja photos will be uploaded with that entry). Domingo por la mañana me desperté, me tomé mi pitufo con tomate, y cogí el autobus a las 10.35 a Nerja desde la parada de autobuses en el Puerto de Málaga. Ya escribiré sobre Nerja en otra entrada, pero era una buena visita. Mi plan original para hacer una ruta larga de senderismo cambió cuando vi las vistas desde El Balcón de Europa. (Ya subiré fotos de Nerja con esta entrada)

Monday I slept in a bit before heading to the Castillo de Gibralfaro. Amazing views of the entire city of Málaga. I went for another café at Café con Libros, checked out the market, found a few cool churches, and soaked up the environment and as much Vitamin D as I could. Lunes, dormí tarde antes de ir al Castillo de Gibralfaro, que ofrece vistas preciosas de la ciudad de Málaga. Fui a tomar otro café en el Café con Libros, fui al Mercado de Merced, vi unas iglesias chulas, y pasé por las calles y intenté tomar tanta Vitamina D como posible. 

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I had the best salmorejo in my life at Don Bosé, along with “lagrimas de pollo” (Chicken tears just doesn’t sound appetizing, but they were good.) I’m not a foodie at all, but I do like salmorejo more than gazpacho. Comí el mejor salmorejo de mi vida en Don Bosé, con lagrimas de pollo. No soy un foodie, pero prefiero salmorejo al gazpacho. 

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I was sad to catch the flight to Bilbao Monday afternoon. The flight actually arrived 15 minutes early, so good for Vueling. Estaba triste coger el vuelo a Bilbao lunes por el tarde. El vuelo llegó 15 minutos antes de hora previsto. Enhorabuena y Zorionak Vueling. 

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I was super impressed with Málaga once again. It has a lot to offer travellers, and I don’t think I will ever be able to see all the meravelles of the province. When I have time, I plan on separating the Set Meravelles page for Málaga into Málaga City and Málaga Province. Maybe that’s cheating, but there is so much to see and do here that it deserves more attention. I may not be a museum person, as I prefer nature and history, but there are a ton of museums. The presence of Picasso is still felt today. It was also great being in Andalucía after nearly three years since my last visit. The price of living in the north of Spain. Me impresionó mucho Málaga otra vez. Tiene mucho ofrecer a los viajadores, y creo que nunca podré llegar a ver todas les meravelles de la provincia. Cuando tenga tiempo, voy a rehacer la entrada de Málaga para poner Set Meravelles para la ciudad y otro siete para la provincia. Igual es hacer trampa, pero hay mucho ver y hacer en Málaga que merece más atención. No soy muy de museos, como prefiero la naturaleza y la historia, pero hay muchos museos en Málaga. Todavía se siente la presencia de Picasso hoy en día. También era genial estar en Andalucía otra vez después de casí tres años de mi última visita. Es el precio que pago por vivir en el norte de España. 

Date of trip/fechas de viaje: 6-8 de febrero, 2016

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Selfie de Alcazaba

Almería. Disney, Beatles and a female cat’s cape.

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Gracias a mi amigo Rubén, un almeriense quien me ayudó elegir las maravillas. Más o menos, hemos coincindido en las maravillas/Thanks to my Almerian friend Rubén, who helped me pick the meravelles. We agreed on the meravelles…for the most part! 

Located in the very south of Spain, Almería is a forgotten about Andalucían province that boasts over 300 sunny days a year (the opposite of Bilbao in so many ways! Opposite side of the country, and it is sunny for every cloudy/rainy day in the Capital of the World). Much of the province is an arid desert, and many people skip over it for more touristy places like Málaga and Granada. They’re making a mistake. Almería is quaint and has a lot of beautiful places to see.

It also has a lot of mythology and rumours about it. There are rumours that Walt Disney was born in Mojácar and was adopted/his father died, his mother met a seaman who ran away with Walt to the States as a youth. Tom Hanks obviously did not play this urban legend up in Saving Mr. Banks. Another claim to fame for the province. Now immortalized in the 2014 Goya (Spanish Oscar) winning Vivir es más fácil con los ojos cerrados, John Lennon filmed How I Won the War in Almería province in 1966. It was here where he began writing “Strawberry Fields Forever”. A more current pop culture item is the sixth album from one of my favourite groups, Lifehouse. It was named for the province as the album has a more western theme and so many westerns were filmed in Almería.

My first and only visit to Almería came in 2011 during the Puente de Diciembre, that time of year that usually gives the Spanish 3-4 (some years even 5) days off from work and travel due to the holidays of el Día de la Constitución (Dec. 6) and an important Catholic Saint Day on the 8th. I caught a too-early Ryan Air flight on Thursday morning (the 8th). I slept the entire flight despite Ryan Air’s desperate pleas to sell electronic cigarettes and scratch-off lottery tickets and advertising another flight that actually arrived without incident on-time flight. I caught a taxi to the city (maybe 15-20€ if I remember correctly? It wasn’t too bad. I want to say only 11€, but it was three years ago and memory makes things better and cheaper most times.) and the taxi driver complemented me on my Barcelona wallet. It was nice being around another culé (Barça supporter) as I was living in Madrid at the time.

I was hit with a calmer pace of life immediately. I checked into the pensión and went for my fave breakfast, done better in Andalucía than anywhere else in the world, pan tostada con tomate (Baguette-style bread lightly toasted with olive oil and a tomato paste).

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Then it was time to explore. I went immediately to the alcazaba, which was free for being a Spanish holiday. It was a great visit with spectacular views of the city and Mediterranean. I later explored the city. I remember a little girl asking me why I was taking pictures of the city, and I told her I thought it was interesting. She was a bit shocked and thought I was “raro” (a weirdo). I saw the cathedral and had some cafés con leche in the plaza nearby (Ryan Air means little sleep and mucho caffeine, folks). I met up with my friend in the evening for tapas and mosto (a Spanish grape juice).

The next day, I really wanted to visit el Cabo de Gata. (Cape of the Female Cat for those wanting a translation) said to be one of the most beautiful natural areas in the Greatest Peninsula in the World. However, public transport to natural areas is not always the best, so with a sigh, I made a vow to return one day and made my way to Granada. Three years later, I would’ve found some way somehow to spend another night in Almería to have had time to get to the park. Hindsight is 20-20.

Set Meravelles

Cabo de Gata (yet to discover)

The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Cabo de Gata  is the only region in Europe with a warm desert climate. It has high cliffs and Spain’s largest volcanic rock formation, El Fraile. Although I have joked that “gata” female cat here (it is), it’s actually named for the mineral agate that was mined here in the past. There are numerous coral reefs and small islands off the coast. It has many wildlife and plant life species and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

Alcazaba

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In the capital city (around 192,000 habitants), the Alcazaba and the ruins of San Cristobal castle are the main attraction. The Muslim fortress was began in the late 10th century and was expanded between 1012 and 1028. After the reconquista, King Carlos III added a wall and after the reconquista of the city, the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabel added a third castle. Today it offers some beautiful views of the city.

Catedral de la Encarnación de Almería

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The Cathedral of Incarnation of Almería is a Gothic/Renaissance-style cathedral built in the 16th century. It’s one of the most visited places in the capital city Almería.

Mojácar (Yet to discover)

Mojácar is a beautiful white village of nearly 8000 habitants boasting over 3000 hours of sun a year. (I’m going now. Agur, sirimiri!) Due it’s location on the sea, it has a bit milder weather than the interior of the province. A nearby village, Lucainena de las Torres, has recently been listed on “Los pueblos más bonitos de España” (The most beautiful villages/towns of Spain).

Calar Alto (Yet to discover)

The Calar Alto Observatory  is a German-Spanish astronomical observatory perched high on the Calar Alto mountain in Almería. It opened with a 1.2 metre/47 inches telescope and today has the largest telescope in Europe with an Equatorial mount, which is 3.5 metres/138-inches.

Desierto de Tabernas (Yet to discover)

The Tabernas Desert is a semi-desert located 30 kilometres/19 miles north of the capital. It usually has less than 200 millimetres of annual rain and offers 280 square kilometres of natural beauty. It was a popular location shoot for Western movies and is somewhat similar to the Badlands in the American Dakotas.

Parque Nacional de Sierra Nevada (compartido con Granada) (Yet to discover)

I’m cheating as I know I wrote about the Sierra Nevada when I wrote about Granada, but the Sierra Nevada is impressive enough to merit a second mention.  It’s the largest national park in Spain and is popular with skiers and people like me, hikers/trekkers.

And now I want to return to Almería to pick up all that I have yet to see.)