So my friend Lisa flew into the Malaga airport and I figured it would be easier to meet her down there and spend the weekend. I know, I know: “There’s nothing in Malaga.” This was absolutely my stance as well, and I had every intention of us daytripping to Ronda and nearby Nerja. But I also decided that it was time to give Malaga a try. After all, I had been talking smack on Big City Madrid and then a rousing good time a few weeks ago.
Here’s what I discovered:
– hotel placement is key. We did pretty well with Bahia Malaga. Cheap, clean, breakfast included and in a central location. It’s hard not to be central in Malaga as everything is pretty darn close.
– Malaga observes siesta. Don’t make plans for the midday hours unless they involve kebabs or pastries. If it involves pastries: Lepanto on c/ Cataluña serves a mean cup of cafe con leche and serious desserts. Sit upstairs on the balcony and people watch. Or go to Canasta (two locations) – amazing breads / pastries. Try a palmera!
– Tapas reign. Don’t look for a full meal unless you want to pay an inflated price (in or out of the touristy area). Remember that this city is full of foreigners – particularly the British folk who live here 6 months out of the year.
– The castle and the palace are both pretty cool and worth the trip. Also – a cheap set of monuments to visit! Combined ticket is 4 euros. This beats the pants off just about anything in this country (hello 8 euro cathedral trip).
– Entrance prices to museums are never the same. Sometimes I’m a student and I pay half price. Sometimes I’m a teacher and pay nothing. Sometimes I’m an EU resident and I get in for free. Other times I am an American and I get the evil eye AND the full price. Totally depends on what day of the week it is.
– Go to the Picasso museum and make sure you stop in their bookshop – lots of fun foreign language books and artsy fartsy things.
– As a city, Malaga is very repetitive. You see the same things over and over again because you walk the same route to get to all the main attractions. Even when you deviate, you will see a whole lot of shops and not a whole lot of interestingness. Sorry, Malaga. However the main avenue is chock full of palm trees, which are nice. Half a point for those.
– Best thing we did was take advantage of a night at the hammam – “pairs” (couples, friends, anything by 2) get a special deal on Friday / Saturday nights between 9pm and 1am: unlimited time in the steam rooms and a 15 minute massage for 65 euros total. Turns out this also involves full body exfoliation and free tea upstairs in the salon. Worth it. We laid around for a loooong time before our appointments and had a very relaxing evening.
– Yes they do have direct access to the Mediterranean from central Malaga. We walked from our hotel and it took approx 15 minutes. However, it did involve gale force winds and so we did not actually set foot in the Sea – instead choosing to watch kite surfers try to avoid hitting each other on the open waves.
All in all? Three days is probably too many unless one of them is spent laying out on the beach with a beverage, a book and direct access to the water. Just not in January.
side bonus: music video that may or may not star one of my professors jamming out in his Spanish rock band. Probably didn’t go see them play live at a local bar this weekend 🙂 (the students would flipear over this one).