Costa del Sol

We took the train from Barcelona to Málaga the end of November and arrived six hours later. Málaga is located along the southern coast of Spain; otherwise known as Costa del Sol in the Andalusian region. The views of the landscape on our ride were a surprising mix of rugged mountains, miles upon miles of beautiful olive groves to grapevines in rolling farm regions, and finally the southern beaches and our next Airbnb home.

The Airbnb was perfectly located within a block off the harbor and beaches, and five to ten-minute walk to the sights, groceries, various businesses, shopping, and cafes. We understand Málaga has more cafes per capita than any other city in the world – a great place to enjoy food especially if you enjoy fresh seafood. The main core of downtown is pedestrian friendly and full of shops and businesses for just about anything one might want or need.

We shopped for groceries at a few local stores and our favorite farmers market, Mercado Central Atarazanas for fish, meat, cheese, fruit, and vegetables. Shopping with the locals is rather interesting with everyone keeping an eye on one another as to who is next. It’s fun to shop here, even if it takes more time, because buying the food is an experience. We popped in every two to three days to pick up what we needed for the next few days - very different from the weekly shopping or monthly Costco run I did when we had a house with two refrigerators! Here, as in other European cities, smaller quantities are purchased because it’s what you have the space for.

It was the lead-in to Christmas when we visited Málaga and the decorating was quite impressive. Thousands of red poinsettias filled the flower beds, and the nighttime lighting was elaborate. As with most evenings in European towns, the locals head out for their walk, here it is called paseo. Entire families walk together and talk about their day. With the Christmas lighting, all the families milling about town, and chestnuts roasting in open fires it certainly felt like the holidays for us.

Since we were here for three weeks with December temperatures in the mid 60s, we mostly enjoyed doing nothing in particular, but here are a few sights we made a point in seeing with a diversion or two thrown in:

Málaga Cathedral – This 16th century cathedral is lovingly known as the one arm lady because one of the bell towers remains unfinished. We enjoyed walking around this venerable cathedral in the heart of Málaga. The ornately dressed statues of saints in illuminated glass cases gave an eerie light to the inner spaces. The walnut, cedar, and mahogany choir stalls were elaborate works of art with each stall carved in the figure of a different saint. And the stunning green 18th century organs (2) with 4000 pipes were beautiful.

Alcazaba – Alcazaba is Arabic for citadel and is an 11th century hilltop Moorish medieval fortress. It’s fascinating and beautiful. The tilework, architecture, grounds, and views are lovely to see.

Castillo de Gibralfaro – the ruins of a Moorish castle fortress on Mt. Gibralfaro, just east of the Alcazaba, site of fortifications since 770 BC and what’s left of the 14th century castle. The layout included several ramparts, interesting architecture, and the views looking over Málaga and the Mediterranean were fantastic.

Walking, Running, Bike Riding
Málaga is beautiful and a lovely place to walk around whether in the heart of Malaga or along the Mediterranean. We both enjoyed many long walks, and I enjoyed nice long runs along the six-mile esplanade. D was even able to rent a bike at one of the many bike rental locations within minutes from our home (half day €5). He rode out to the Guadalhorce River Estuary Natural Preserve where the river runs into the Mediterranean. It’s a boggy delta area known as a birdwatchers paradise. 

Time for an Indulgence
The Hammam al Andalus (Arabian baths) was located in a building with Andalusian/Moorish styled architecture and beautiful decorated tiles. To start things off we showered then enjoyed a purifying scrub while lying on a hot stone table. The scrub is done with a traditional Arabic Kessa cloth glove with red grape soap. Together the cloth and soap removed dead skin cells and increased circulation. With our circulation improved, we were massaged with aromatic oils. Time for another shower then we moved on to a series of thermal contrasts beginning with a warm pool, then a rest for sweet mint tea, then the hot pool, the steam chamber, then a room of heated marble slabs where we both melted into the marble. To wrap things up we entered one of the ice-cold pools and finally a warm one, showered off, and enjoyed refreshing strawberry infused water. This experienced was ninety minutes of heaven and pure bliss.  The only problem, there was no one to carry us home!

Thanks for joining us on our journey.
Stay tuned,
DaM