Sunday, 6 November 2016

Urban Sundays

Marbella to Benajarife, 5th November, 65 miles, Camping Val Niza Playa, €17 per night, 2 nights.

One thing we learned from our visit to Lisbon was that Sundays are a really good time to visit a city. Not only is the traffic less frenetic, but its people are out and about enjoying themselves and you get to celebrate the place with them. So, when planning to visit Malaga for the second time we deliberately chose to go on a Sunday. 

We are staying about 18 kilometres east of the city in small resort called Benajarife. We stayed at Camping Playa Niza the last time we were here in February 2015. Some things are the same, parakeets in the trees, the grey sand beach across the N340 outside the gate, beautiful sunsets, a lot to like. 

In autumn the site is busier and there'is more bit pressure on the facilities, particularly in the morning. More annoying, when the site is busy, it becomes obvious that the owners have squeezed in too many pitches. They are small, the access roads narrow and full of hazards. I had real difficulties getting on and off our pitch. What is great, however, is the half hourly bus from Velez Malaga to the city stops near the gate, a fifty minute journey to the centre costing €2.70. 

We arrived in the city a little before noon, in time for a pre-lunch wander. The historical centre has many beautiful old buildings, but lacks the impressive assemblage you find, for example, in Cadiz, Seville or Salamanca. Similarly, the harbour has been remodelled in recent years to create a startling white promenade, but it does not contain a signature contemporary icon like you find in Valencia, Bilbao, or Marseilles. What Malaga achieves, however, is the integration of the old and new into a convivial, vibrant urban living space. In that sense it is one of the satisfying places to mooch about in I know, Herewith, our mooch in pictures.

The first thing you  see when reach the historical centre is the Episcopal Palace. It's next to the enormous Baroque cathedral which is so big, its actually difficult to photograph.

Lots of interesting tile-work on the shop fronts

Across from a modern water feature - a startling decorated panel hiding building work - not exactly graffiti

Very jolly planter - that's the old Arabic Alcazabar in the background

Next to the cafe, the Roman theatre and the walls of the Arabic citidel - a great sense of continuity - the mix of past and present.

It's a stiff climb to the area around the castle

From here - a good view of the modern city - with the bullring in the middle distance

Blossom in November - always nice..

The new Cruise ship dock, and the freight terminal are very much part of the urban fabtic - with a park that runs the length of the seafront.
Next challenge, find lunch. We have a system, and it has never failed us. Firstly, avoid any restaurant near a major tourist site. Secondly, never choose anywhere in the main square or major thoroughfare. Even a place 50yds down a a side street will serve you cheaper and better food. Finally, look for the place that is packed with locals, if necessary hang around until a table becomes available. It works in general, and it worked today. The Plaza de Merced is a little off the main tourist route. Even here there are some restaurants that have well advertised tapas deals. We ignored them and headed for the place in the far corner packed with locals. We sat on a bench and waited about 10 minutes or so until a table became available. It was worth the wait - great food, lively atmosphere, you don't get serenaded everyday by a lusty septuagenarian.  .

Perusing the tapas deals...
relaxing with the locals

one tapas was a local version of gazpach - originating from nearby Anteguera

Chicken kebab with glossy honey and mustard sauce - yum!

Chicken breast stuffed with pistachio and pinenuts.

The older chap had a strong tenor voice - I assume it was a love song of some sort as he when addressed the women diners there was a serious amount of giggling.

The bill - for both of us, with wine!

After lunch we took a walk along Malaga's revitalised harbour front. The city remains a working port. However the harbour has been re-organised so that the cruise boat area and the marina are integrated with a promenade with shops and cafes. The design is bold, tying together the old city, the park area behind the promeade and the quays themselves. It is an audacious piece of urban remodelling, and works well.

Smaller cruise boats can moor within a short stroll of the old city.

The new sunshade is an startling white structure running the length of the promenade.

No prim park benches here, these curvaceous seats were designed so people can have a proper lie down....

Here you see the long new covered promenade, linking the harbour area to the park and the city beyond - a beautifully thought out bit of urban planning. - The ship was amazing too - a three masted barquentine perhaps?

The quayside market and designer shops placed to capitalise on cruise boat custom.

at the end of the pier, a very handsome lighthouse.

I am sure we will return to Malaga, it is a delightful, civilised place. It gives you hope, in a world that so often provokes, if not despair, then a kind of low level, background sense of gloom. (just editing this as news of Trump's impending win fills the news - no, forget the notion of low level gloom - it's definitely despair we are talking about now!). On that note - read some Auden - it's my only antidote!
It is our sorrow. Shall it melt? Ah, water
Would gush, flush, green these mountains and these valleys,
And we rebuild our cities, not dream of islands.
Paysage Moralisé  (1934)



  1. Mallaga is a beautiful City been there a couple of times excellent coffee and the Cathedral is magnificent, your idea about finding the right restaurant is a good one must think of that the next time I am there

    1. Hi, it is one of those places that you leave with the thought, I will come back here one day. On our first visit in the Spring of 2014 we went to the Picasso Museum. Many galleries are a little overwhelming, but this one, housed in a small Renaissance palace, is just right, with works from his teenage years right through to his 90s. We have not sen the interior of the cathedral - so that's a reason for a return...and the tapas.

    2. One place we must visit been to most cities in Spain.

    3. Lovely pics Malaga looks good must visit