Spain wasn’t the first place that came to mind when I thought of where we would visit as our first “other country” trip since we came back to Europe. There are a lot of other countries we have not even been to yet.
To be honest, it was the fact that Finnair were going to be flying their wide body A330s to Malaga on certain days in February 2019 that swung the favour. The fact that they switched back to their narrow body A320s a few weeks beforehand kind of soured my enthusiasm on the trip a bit. Nerd life.
The gateway for pale-skinned and beer swilling degenerates to disperse to the various beach side resorts dotted around the coast; Malaga itself is actually a worthwhile stopover for a day or two. There are a couple of attractions worth checking out.
Both the Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro are free to enter after 14:00 every Sunday. Something to be aware of. Otherwise it’s €3.50 for one site and €5.50 for both sites. We availed of the free entry to visit the Alcazaba on the Sunday we arrived. It’s nothing too special with some interesting yet underwhelming courtyards. The views from the walls are nothing spectacular and you get much more substantial views from the much higher up Castillo de Gibralfaro.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
You certainly do a lot more work to get the views from Castillo de Gibralfaro. It’s quite a steep walk up the hill. I saw some struggling peeps on the way up. And down. You can get a taxi. But we walked and it certainly gets the cerveza fueled heart pumping. Coming down is actually a little bit more taxing due to the steep decline at times. I wouldn’t do it in the rain.
The views from up top are excellent and give a great view of the surrounding city, sea, and mountains. The castle’s fortifications are impressive but the small exhibit is mostly reproductions of soldier outfits throughout the castle’s ages. Definitely worth a visit; just be aware of the incline/decline.
Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga
€6 gains you entry to the Malaga Cathedral. With this you get an audio guide. There are a huge variety of different “churches” inside and the architecture is pretty impressive throughout. You kind of get cathedral-ed out in this area of Spain but certainly pop in for a peek.
Mercado Central de Atarazanas
Take a wander around this food market to get a sense of the fresh food that’s available in Malaga on a daily basis. Fish, meat, olives, cheese, and vegetables a go-go. Smells happen. Lively place. There are a few eateries outside on the pavement which avail of the fresh food (and beer) in the market which were quiet early on in the day but heaving by the end of it.
Parroquia Santiago Apóstol Málaga
Not a church that will be on many to-do lists in Malaga but take 5 minutes to drop in here. Very interesting architecturally, quiet, and free. You know it ain’t touristy when it’s free.
Plaza de la Merced
Just a square with a bunch of restaurants surrounding it. The monument in the middle is an homage to fallen military.
We didn’t go to the art galleries that are recommended due to various reviews stating they were nothing special. Although Picasso was born here the museum is said to be quite underwhelming, which is a shame.
Seville (or Sevilla)
2 and a bit hours from Malaga by train lies Seville. Trains are not cheap if you go for the faster AVANT trains and we did. Single tickets will be around €35-45. Ticket machines are of the zap kind only and didn’t like our credit cards so go to the human beings in the ticket office (basic Spanish, hand gestures, morse code, and written instructions with train times help here). Game of Thrones and Star Wars fans can recreate some scenes in Seville and look silly doing it. Known, it is.
Royal Alcázar of Seville
Otherwise known as the Water Gardens of Dorne in Game of Thrones to those who are so opined. There are two queues to get in here; one for pre-booked online and one for silly people who just show up. The silly people line is always much longer. So pre-book the night before and line up in the pre-booked line from 9:10 for a 9:30 gates opening.
The building itself is impressive with some rooms standing out more than others. The grounds are nothing spectacular. There was a dead fish in one of the pools which stank a lot. A lot of other fountains were dry. Where’s Groundskeeper Willy when you need him?
I think my favourite room is the underground Baños de Maria Padilla which, if you can get it a quiet time, is a great photo opportunity.
Plaza de España
The first day we visited there there was no water here. The second time we visited there was water. It looks better with water.
Built in 1928, the Plaza de España is a long curving outside promenade type corridor type building with a large square-type thing in front with water running around it. It’s like I painted a picture with my words.
You can stand inside the curved plaza to the left of the entrance and re-create the angle from The Phantom Menace (if you want to relive that shitshow again).
Parque de Maria Luisa
It’s a moderately sized park with nothing much going on in it. If you want to walk with a little green around you then go here. There was one bird-active pond which distracted us for a few minutes.
Catedral de Sevilla
Another queue stricken attraction, keep an eye out during the late morning when the lines die down. We pre-booked the night before but there were no lines when we went. If there is a line you have to basically cut in at the gate and turn left into the pre-booked entry.
Finished in the 16th Century, this cathedral is a must visit when in Sevilla. It’s huge and has a lot of spectacular vaulted views and angles to gawk at. Genocidal maniac Christopher Columbus is buried, quite surprisingly, here. Make sure to include a trek up the Giralda tower, which has a sloped ramp going up (and down) instead of steps, the end result up top has some great views of the city and surrounding areas.
Puente de Triana leading to Triana Mercado
Nice looking bridge from the mid 19th century. It leads to the indoor Triana market where you can buy a bunch of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and stuff.
Las Setas De Sevilla
Just a cool looking architectural structure that you may pass wandering around the city. Kinda comes out of nowhere.
45 minutes from Sevilla back in the direction of Malaga is Cordoba. Record holder of the Spain’s hottest recorded temperature in Europe. So there. 46.9c. It’s a quaint little place with a train station situated a good 30 minute walk away from the main tourist attractions. I’ll be honest we didn’t go into the main attraction, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, as we were all alcazared-out after Sevilla. A bit drained. It happens. Should have went but whatever. The best part of Cordoba is just walking around the small streets and alleyways on the way to random starred places on Google Maps.
Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba
There was a line at the ticket booth for this but there were ticket machines beside the line so we bought the tickets from there. I don’t know why people were lining up. But I felt great and skipped merrily away from the line-dwellers.
It’s an interesting jigsaw puzzle of a religious building as you go from a Christian looking facade exterior to a more Mosque-esque interior of large open spaces.
Puente Romano (Game of Thrones alert!!)
Cool looking bridge which holds more sway with people now that it appeared as the Long Bridge of Volantis in Game of Thrones albeit with more computer generated graphics piled on top. On the way to this we found an island of cats long the river. Yeah. Highlight of the day.
Calleja de las Flores
A small alley with blue flower pots. Really. Non-descript towns in the world take note! You too, can have a tourist attraction if you put coloured flower pots up in your shitty alleys.
The biggest bullshit tourist site I saw on our travels. Right now it’s a construction site. When it’s not a construction site, it’s a row of reconstructed pillars in place of ancient original Roman pillars. Next.
Plaza de la Corredera
A very interesting and quite a large square which wouldn’t look out of place in Venice. Not at all touristy feeling and feels more like a local hang out. The buildings surrounding it look like old apartments. Quite a weird vibe of a place. Anywhere else in the world and it would be lauded as magnificent. Here, it’s just a local’s square. So it seems.
There you have it. I do have vague ideas to visit Granada and Ronda in the region in the foreseeable or unforeseeable future.