With the ending of my first year of my MBA and the solidification of my summer internship right here in Catalunya the travel bug was definitely biting. As I wouldn’t be going to another exotic location for three months I jumped on the opportunity to savor another long vacation before devoting myself to being in the real world for however short a time I would be there. In coordinating schedules, it was hard to find a location that would work best so Southern Spain into Morocco was our choice. I was the lazy traveller on this round letting AG do all of the planning (except I picked the hotels) and well he seemed to have a plan of where he wanted to go already so that was fine by me. My only requirement was not to be in transit on my birthday.
Our first stop in Spain was the coastal city of Malaga. I must say I expected there to be more to see, but we were correct in allocating just one day on this portion of our journey as we were able to see everything in the city in just a few short hours. It was very clear that Southern Spain, unlike Barcelona, was not yet ready to welcome tourists back, as many restaurants, hotels, and even streets were under major construction to get ready for the season.
We started our journey with a visit to the Catedral. Outside the grounds there was a crazy beggar, making obscene noises as passersby, we rushed past to not be in his path of attack and get safely to the entrance to the church. The inside was spectacular, with some of the most intricate architecture I have seen and many insets and alcoves full of artwork, sculptures and furniture. While flash photography was not permitted, I was still able to get a lot of great shots to remember. It was all kept in stunning condition, it was a wonder there were not more tourists visiting at this time. Though the absence of tourists made it even better for our visit.
There were not one, but two massive organs enclosing the center of the Catedral, intricately carved and painted in a mossy green that looked like marble (and maybe it was) with stunning gold accents all the way to the top. I can just imagine the entire edifice filling with the sound from his enormous instruments and the effect that it must have on one’s sense. The Catedral didn’t quite seem big enough to contain that sound that these would emit. It would probably cause all of the churchgoers to go temporarily deaf.
While the inside was very captivating, what struck me most on this visit was the progressive, somewhat out-of-place, artwork featured in the entry garden. This large, papier-måché-esk, statue of a polychromatic nude man hugging a cross borders on blasphemy in my mind. There is a statement on the outside, that equates the act of loving to godliness, but I can’t quite remember the exact phrasing.
Plaza de la Merced was an accidental stumble as we were meandering through the streets after visiting the Picasso Museum (no photography allowed inside, so I won’t be able to share any visuals, but it quite a small, rather dull museum. I’m glad we were able to utilize our student discount.) and trying to find our way to the castles. And a fortunate accident it was. A beautiful resting place after a bit of walking, with lilac colored blooms atop all of the trees giving of a subtle fragrance that was not over powering, but rather calming.
The visit to the Roman Theatre was a bit of a let down, after having visited some of the most amazing ruins one can imagine in Turkey a few months prior. They tried to lure us into watching a cheesy video in the waiting rooms before we could visit the ruins, my guess is this was put in place to add some more value for tourists, or to limit the amount of people accessing the ruins at one time. What ever the reason, we paid no mind and wait straight for the good stuff. There was a great inclining, almost handicapped route up to Alcazaba, just behind the theatre, so we began our assent.
This old castle, the smaller of the two in Malaga, had many rooms and levels to explore, fitted with a variety of museum fixtures filled with old pottery and tools. The gardens were well-kept and manicured, but I suspect not the original formation of the 9th century. From the top you can see why this palace was built here, as you are greeted and blessed with spectacular views of the city and port. At one point this was closer to the Mediterranean, but the sea has since receded.
We were even able to get a clear view of the old bull ring was up here. I don’t think I’d be able to stomach seeing a bull-fight, but it was nice to see what the ring looked like, even from many kilometers above.
Last stop of the day was the long (and quite steep!) up-hill walk to the second castle, Palacio de la Aduana, just behind Alcazaba. It’s not quite as far from our hotel as the concierge indicated, but the incline is enough to make you think it is more. I’m a pretty fit person and this was hell. I remember watching in wonder as a group of Elderly travelers passed by in the other direction, did they just tackle this uphill climb? I hope to be as able when I get older.
Despite all that we accomplished it was still just mid-afternoon. We were able to get drinks and snacks, nap and shower, and twiddle our thumbs a bit, all before it was even time to get ready for dinner. You definitely don’t need more than one day in this town. That night, I drifted off into sleep excited for the next city and glad this one was conquered so quickly.