Warning – some images of meats. If you are a foodie, be prepared to have your head blown!
For those joining late, I’m travelling around the south of Spain looking for a possible retirement location. It’s been my dream for more years than I can remember, so I packed a carry-on bag and booked a flight for Málaga to begin the search over 2.5 months. I hope you will follow along by clicking subscribe down below.
Luis was on time and had me in front of my building in Málaga within 45 minutes. He is a good contact to have for the future if it is meant to be. His family owns a very busy taxi company in Torre del Mar.
Standing on the narrow sidewalk with my luggage, I looked for the building number. The numbers didn’t make any sense to me. I paced up and down the sidewalk thinking I found it, only to discover it wasn’t the one. There was a man smoking a cigarette with his head out the window of a taverna on the corner. I passed him 4 times. I wondered what he was thinking. I’m sure he has seen this before. I was starting to get frustrated and then took a deep breath and headed for the closest café. I had my coffee in hand and I looked up, across the street, kiddy-corner to where I was – there it was.
Málaga was a shock compared to what I had just left in Torre del Mar. It was incredibly busy and then I realized it was siesta time and everyone was heading to lunch. Honking and hurrying as people made their way home or to a restaurant.
Siesta is not what many North Americans think. Just like us, some only have an hour or others might have longer. Regardless it’s not necessarily a time for sleeping, but a time for the family to come together to share a meal. Pick up the kids from school. This is also the largest meal of the day. Many café, bars and restaurants have ‘reserved’ signs on the tables. Also portions are larger unless you can a proper tapas bar. The ‘media’ size is good for 2 people and the ‘Plato’ would be for a family sharing. And that is what they do, share. It is wonderful how families eat together. Kids, teens, parents and los abuelos (the grandparents). It’s beautiful to witness.
Sonia (property manager) met me and brought me through the door where we walked along this long corridor of slick marble floors and when we turned the corner, I was in an Andalusían courtyard. A big square of 4 floors with the middle open to the sky. All I could see was natural light and blue sky. It was lovely. Up to the third floor we went by elevator. The place was tidy and looked clean, she explained the key system, the windows and where the cleaning supplies were and left. A bit shy on the service aspect. No welcome booklet, map of the area, etc. A far cry from my first-rate experience in Torre del Mar.
Travel days are tiring even if it is only 45 minutes so I stayed in and did some research on the area. It was a trendy area called El Merced. Artsy-fartsy is what my friend MaryAnn calls it. True, it had museums, galleries and sculptures, but it also had more tapa bars I would ever get a chance to experience.
The next morning, I hit the El Merced Market. You must temper your desires to try new things because you have to carry the haul home. I’ve learned my lesson after a few over-indulgences.. Today is Mother’s Day and Labour Day in Spain. I saw the irony in that. 😉
Sons and daughters are taking their mothers and abuelas (grandmothers) out for lunch or walks along the Calle Marqués de Larios. Almond vendors are on every corner, and boy are they delicious. You haven’t had an almond until you have tried Andalusían almonds. Oh, and if you have a craving for gelato, there are so many from the mom and pop stores to the craft variety with innovative flavours.
I did a hop on/hop off bus tour to get acquainted with my new, temporary home. It was nice, but certainly not the most exciting. Still, worth a go round to get oriented. Again, the architecture is incredibly beautiful. It got a little hairy when the bus was winding its way up a narrow road on a mountain on the way up to the Castillo de Gibraltar and all I could see was the Mediterranean and then imagining us flipping over. I know that is dark, but fear of heights will do that to you. I still like to challenge the fear. Oh I saw the Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship moored in the Málaga Port. It was massive! No thanks.
After the bus tour, I headed to a square where I was able to get a solo seat facing outwards and at a group of young women dressed as Teletubbies, members of a bridal party. Hen parties are huge here as it is so accessible in Europe and of course the climate is a draw. The Teletubbies were accompanied by a couple of guitarists and they sang at the top of their lungs. I ordered a Tinto Verano (red wine and lemonade) as recommended by cousin Carolyn and settled in for the entertainment. It was better than I expected, the Tinto Verano that is! Cheers Carolyn!
I still had time left for the hop on/hop off bus, so the next morning, I hopped on and finished the stops which took me back to El Merced Square. I found a café for breakfast and it was noon! I’m now eating like the Spaniards. After lunch, I allowed myself to get lost and ended up finding the location where we’ll be meeting for a wine and tapas tour at the foot of Calle Marqués de Larios. I also saw the Alcazaba (fortress) and had a poor experience at El Pimpi. The service was horrid, my review has been written. Maybe Antonio Banderas (part-shareholder/actor) will reach out to me., personally. 😉 🤞
I’ve been wondering if I could live in an apartment now after years in a townhouse. The hammers, drills and saws were sounding as a unit was being renovated below me. Every day for the rest of my stay from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm. Thankfully, I was out for most of the day. Today was culture day. Flamenco, Málaga Cathedral and the Pablo Picasso museum. The Flamenco was beautiful, loud and I didn’t have a clue what they were singing or dancing about but there was so much passion coming from the guitar, the singing, clapping, and feet stomping. The Flamenco dancer’s dresses were spectacular. The Málaga Cathedral is jaw dropping beautiful and pictures don’t do it justice. Pablo Picasso was a horrible sculpturer but he sure painted some interesting items. I enjoyed this exhibit. I would look at the piece, then try to come up with the name. It was a game and I got a couple. This one (below) Woman with Hat. He had this obsession with the female form which was almost disturbing, I saw his works on loan for the Flesh & Spirit exhibit in Malta in 2018. This exhibit was lighter and more fun.
I was in dire need of a mani/pedi (pterodactyl toes) so decided to try it Spanish-style. I found a place with a 5 star recommendation. Very proud of myself, I made my appointment in Spanish and showed up at 4:00 pm to be warmly greeted by two lovely ladies who ushered me to the back. I’m looking around the room for the big, comfy massage chair with the warm, swirling blue water. Ema pointed to the steel office chair. You know the kind you find in doctor offices. Okay, I will go with it. As they say, “When in Spain …”
Ema sits on a plastic step stool and proceeds to lift both my legs up on her lap. Then came the digging, filing etc. and the oops when she cut too much of my cuticle. “Oops” she says and soaks a pad with alcohol and presses it down to stop the bleeding. Soaking hasn’t happened yet, but when it does it is an aluminum salad bowl with Fairy detergent suds.
Another lady comes over and starts working on my hands. I won’t go any further but needless to say it wasn’t a great experience and the nail polish (Opi) is almost off my fingers and the toenail polish is wrinkled. And no massage either. Someone could make a killing if they invested in a massage chair and learned how to give a proper mani/pedi. €40
All polished and bandaged up, it was time for the Wine and Tapas Tour. It was better than I expected. Felipe our guide took us to the oldest taverna in Málaga and I tried an interesting tapa of white anchovy, olives and sweet pickled onions. It was paired with a parajete, a sweet wine. The sweetness of the wine offset the saltiness of the tapa. Then, it was off to eat various jamón with of course, the Iberian variety the most special. Sorry vegetarians, it was pretty amazing. Here are some images of what we had. I would definitely recommend Spain Food Sherpas. I connected with another lovely couple from Norway and exchanged numbers and email addresses.
On my way home I was searching for a street name and looked up for an instant, long enough for my shoe to get caught on a cobblestone. My phone smashed on the stones along with my left knee and left elbow. I sat up and made a mental scan to see if anything was broken, but all was good. Two strong chivalrous men from the bar across the street ran over and stood me up. Ego intact but a little bruised, I raised my good arm and waved thanks while hobbling away with a “¡Muchas gracias señores!” I’m starting to dislike cobblestones. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
I was a little sore today, but grateful it wasn’t worse. I felt a little hesitant about wandering too far away so I went for a little walk in a different direction and found myself in front of La Tranca, a traditional tapa bar that I had tried twice to get into but to no avail.
I loved the vibe of this place with the tables being old barrels, kitchzy posters and the servers writing your bill in chalk on the barrel, bar or door frame. It was loud and American music blared out of speakers as the artists sang the songs accompanied by Spanish guitar. Hotel California by The Eagles got my ears to perk up. I timed it perfectly because as I was leaving, the place was filling up.
Back to the apartment, it was time to pack up. I had a video call with MaryAnn which made me smile. A nice chat and time to clean and pack my things. My final night in Málaga was lovely but I am also looking forward to seeing Sevilla. It has been a dream to see this incredible city, so full of history. One more sleep.