Friday, February 3, 2017

Malaga, magical Malaga charms with mix of music, nature, history, art

Malaga's seafaring history dates back centuries and modern Malaga is an attractive tourist destination for good reason.


Parador Gibralfaro is our latest find, a true hotel gem in a city replete with
gardens, museums, plazas and charming neighborhoods. Oh yes, and the sea.

OUR VIEW from the top of the city was hypnotic.
We watched cruise ships come and go -- including the one that we would soon board for the Canary Islands, north Africa and an Atlantic crossing.
We admired the energy and grace of would-be bull fighters having a lesson in the ring below us.
We admired the marvelous Alcazaba, best preserved fortress in Spain, dating to the 12th Century Moors.
The bull fight ring is empty of audience, but a pair of apprentice matadors
 in Plaza de Toros de La Malagueta is taking a lesson from the master.

The scent of autumn foliage complemented our tasty olives and goat cheese from a nearby village. We'd shopped at the local market -- a tradition for us in a new city -- to buy happy hour appetizers and snacks unique to the region.
WE ENJOYED the user-friendly "Hop On, Hop Off" red buses to avoid renting a car, and found they took us everywhere we desired to go -- museums, cathedral, parks, gardens, restaurants, plazas.
Our week in Malaga was relaxing -- yet one of our most active holidays.

Castillo de Gibralfaro is among the oldest remaining citadel and fortresses in 
Spain. It is above the Parador Gibralfaro which is named after the fortress. 

Barcelona beckons? Click here
Malaga invites both of those essential elements for the vacationer. One can hike in the morning, tour a museum in the afternoon, enjoy a flamenco
Malaga's bountiful paella is world class.

concert, tapas or late meal at night.
The birthplace of Picasso is rich with history and has been claimed and enjoyed by several great civilizations. The Romans created the marvelous Teatro Romano, in the first century B.C., in the time of Augustus I.  It has been carefully restored and is used as a concert space.
Keller poses in a geranium
patch at the Alcazaba.
MUSIC IS as much a part of Malaga as the ancient walls of the fortresses, its love of nature and affection for the cafe life. Guitarists play for tips -- brilliant musicians, who could be on concert stages. Rural Spain's beauty
Buskers abound around the museums and public places, and one can sip a sangria while listening to first-rate musicians.
Gifted street musicians abound on the streets of Malaga.
We dined on shellfish and anchovies while listening to Bach chaconnes.
Malaga is a shopper's delight.  Here, Keller finds his favorite
N/A beer, while in the next aisle, Cookie shops for olives.
Within walking distance are lovely cafes and bars, all beautifully flower bedecked.  Nature loving Malaguenos revel in the outdoors and even in November, we found them enjoying coffee, lunch and cocktails -- even dinner on the warmer nights -- al fresco, eager to share recommendations.
The attractive southern European port played host to the Phoenicians who positioned themselves on the side of the mount of Gibralfaro, from which our elegant and welcoming Parador takes its name.
Moors built their fortress Alcazaba upon the remains of Phoenician digs, constructing a grand palace with gardens, pools and running water over a period spanning the 11th to 13th Centuries when Muslim governors and royals called Malaga home.
Cookie enjoys a moment with Pablo Picasso in Merced Square near
the home, in the background, where he was born and raised. 
Delights of Dali
MUSEUMS WERE a big part of our draw to this picturesque city. From Chagall paintings at the Russian Museum, to the beautiful primary-colored "cube" called Pompidou Center with its 20th and 21st Century works. Malaga boasts museums devoted to saints, bullfighting, flamenco and wine, and airplanes, so we could easily have spent another week.  The city's automobile museum is one of the finest in the world, a sleek and engaging blend of cars and fashion. Malaga has more than two dozen museums to nourish the curious soul.
WE SOAKED up splendid Chagalls at the Russian Museum and enjoyed the fine Picasso Museum as well as a fascinating illustrated history of his life with drawings, letters, commentary and even his favorite cape in the "Natal" museum in which he was born. Outside in the Plaza Merced, we even sat with the master. He is memorialized in a handsome lifesize bronze, sketchbook and pencil in hand, patina on his head where thousands have rubbed it.
We rode in a horse drawn carriage, noticing carriage, driver and steed meticulously groomed and cared for.
We climbed a pretty walkway to the Alcazaba we had admired for days, delighting in this thousand-plus year old marvel of art and architecture.
We recommend the Hop On, Hop Off bus pass, a bargain way to navigate the city. So much did we enjoy the two loops that we made two forays, enjoying a well written commentary.
MALAGA'S  PARKS and boulevards are second to none. Its tourist bureau ranks among the best we've visited, with dozens of helpful maps, brochures and cheerful staff.
A perfect holiday, our Malaga week.

A charming play about love gets standing ovations at La Jolla
Playhouse. "Freaky Friday" features a tender story,
 fabulous music and terrific acting.
Cruising New York's famous harbor may not be in
your budget -- but perhaps a dinner cruise in a
 closer town is. Be imaginative this Valentine's Day.
UP NEXT:  Valentine's Day approaches so time to think beyond candy and flowers -- how about a pair of tickets for you and your sweetie to a play about love? "Freaky Friday" at La Jolla Playhouse is a charming tale, a well acted, beautifully orchestrated musical. Based on the 1976 Disney movie, the title doesn't begin to convey the delights of this gem. Theater tickets are a fun alternative to candy and flowers.  Or how about a hot air balloon treat? A gift card for golf on a green you've never tried?  Entrance to a new museum or a movie night out. If you're lucky enough to live near water, how about a dinner cruise? If you have deep pockets, consider a note in a deck of cards pledging a long weekend in Las Vegas. Or take your last Playbill and turn the cover into a promise of a trip to New York, Las Vegas or New Orleans. Sky's the limit, even if you're watching the budget. Be creative. Think "homemade" and "heartfelt." We have suggestions to help Cupid. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Fridays when we post a fresh take on the arts, adventure and nature-driven travel.


  1. We, too, love Malaga. Small enough to maneuver easily, so much to see, hear, do. Nice piece, lovely photos.

  2. Theater buffs from New OrleansFebruary 4, 2017 at 3:25 PM

    Enjoying the travel and theater here. Thanks.

  3. We always shop in foreign cities' grocery stores... Fun mention of the supermarkets --and love the Picasso photo. We, too, found Malaga delightful. Wonderful enticing piece.

  4. Good read. We are in Europe reading this. On our way to Barcelona. Will detour south not to miss Malaga.