Tuesday, October 9, 2012


It was pouring rain on the day we left Seville and this continued for parts of the journey. We took the train to Malaga, but no one had warned us of the spectacular gorge scenery and series of tunnels on the way, so we were totally unprepared for about 10 tunnels, some very long, and in between, glimpses of the El Chorro Gorge with a roadway in disrepair hanging on its precipitous sides. This, it appears, is the Camino del Rey, a small pathway a metre wide clipped to the side of the gorges for the workers on hydroelectric dam projects to move themselves and equipment. It was opened by the king, who walked it, hence the name. These days it is broken, dangerous and forbidden, which is an added thrill to some. However, all I caught was one quick shot with many reflections in the train window. But I learned something new thanks to responses to my query by Tripadvisor members.

The Camino del Rey clinging to the cliff

It had been very difficult to book accommodation in Malaga, even months ahead, so we settled on the Ibis and were pleasantly surprised by its centrality and level of comfort, plus space, which is often at a premium in boutique hotels. The hotel was situated on an unappealing, concreted, dry river bed where the people walked, cycled and played with their dogs. The next day it was still wet  and outside quite a level of water was running through the Guadalmedina riverbed from the overnight rains. I could see that in spring melts the river would be deep and fast and rise quickly.

malaga, ibis
Ibis and dry river bed
malaga, water in river N
Next morning, rain from the mountains and the river was running quickly. By night it was dry again.
However there are more appealing views of the city
Malaga and its lopsided cathedral
Malaga, moon
Malaga and rising moon from the hotel

We did a quick wander through town and later did a tapas crawl, well, two stops with a glass of wine and several tapas at one place and then at another . It certainly does have appeal.

Malaga, nest
Quail egg and beef “nest”
malaga, cafe_edited-1
A cafe where we ate
The town is blessed with a Carmen Thyssen Museum of Spanish art as well as a Picasso museum (Picasso was born here, left at 19 and never returned. Hmm…) Neither museum would allow photography of course. We also saw the cathedral which is soaringly impressive inside. It is almost impossible to capture it from outside as it is squeezed into narrow streets with just a tiny plaza in front, full of cafes.

Malaga, cathedral facade
From the tiny plaza
malaga,cathedral N
Malaga, sanctuary ceiling
Soaring ceilings
Malaga, just loungingJust lounging around malaga,side altar N
A small side altar
Malaga, cathedral 2
Side nave. The cathedral is bathed in golden light
The Thyssen museum was quite wonderful. It sought to show the influences on Spanish art from outside and the influence Spanish art itself had in various movements such as Impressionism. The audioguide was a bit into over-interpretation but the collection was amazing. Carmen Thyssen herself has a charmed life and her final marriage to Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza meant she could collect art whenever she wanted. To be fair, most has been loaned or gifted to the state, as in this museum and the one in Madrid.

The Picasso museum was beautifully curated into rooms with themes, portraits, the sea, etc. So many of his works have a joyous feel that it was impossible not to leave smiling. There were archaeological ruins under the museum, Phonecian, Roman and even middle ages. This city has a long, long history.

We wandered off in the direction of the beach, expecting nice cafes and people enjoying themselves. Instead, we got browny/grey sand, stacked deck chairs and a few dubious cafes. Walking a bit further, however, we discovered a whole area on the waterfront at the marina area of the port and enjoyed lunch at a café under an umbrella where we could pretend to own the lovely water craft nearby.

malaga, beach N
A sad, deserted beach
Malaga, waterfront cafes
A much nicer waterfront at the  marina
malaga,skyline and ship N
Cathedral and a nice yacht

For dinner we tried a very traditional restaurant recommended by a Tripadvisor colleague which was quite good, pork cheeks and then figs in Maraschino for me, fillet steak and choc mousse for Nick.

As we were to fly out quite late to Casablanca, and the day dawned bright and sunny, we took the cheats’ elevator, avoiding the steep road, to the top of the Alcazabar, which has been greatly restored and well looked after. There were the remains of a Nazrid palace and fortifications, plus the steep roadway up/down with many twists and turns to foil any attacks. Pretty gardens and fountains, lovely arches and doorways and even eucalyptus trees. This has become a bit of a theme in the trip; the trees are everywhere so they often remind us of home. We declined the walk up to the higher castle and wandered our way downwards, through the gardens and paths and finally to the remains of a Roman Theatre.

Malaga, alcazabar 1
Arches in the Nazrid Palace
Malaga, alcazar pool
Pool patio
Malaga, alcazabar gate
An arch and a turn in the roadway
Malaga,  alcazabar fountain 2
One of many cool fountains
Malaga, alcazabar fountain
Fountain patio
malaga,alcazabar window N
Gorgeous arch on a window
Malaga, alcazabar garden
Formal garden and fountain
Malaga, window alcazabar
The window of the detail above
malaga, arches
Beautiful arches
The Roman Theatre
Malaga, roman theatre
The Roman Theatre
Malaga, roman theatre steps
Theatre steps

Picked up the luggage and finally, off to Morocco.
Next stop: Casablanca.

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