Since I arrived to Malaga really early in the morning, I had plenty of time to blog and figure out how to get to my guesthouse. I arrived promptly at 9 am, where I found the reception guy unlocking the door. Perfect. I was dying for a shower but unfortunately, my room wouldn’t be ready until that afternoon. I settled for some coffee, water, and the Internet in the common area instead.
Luckily I had pre-scheduled a walking tour for 11 am that day, so I wandered through the maze-like streets to Plaza Merced.
My first impression of Malaga was that it is indeed a “lazy city” like most Madrileños told me. While I wasn’t surprised to find eerily empty streets at 9 am on a Sunday morning, I was shocked to find the same at 11 am. I later found out that Malaga was at the tail end of their fiesta week. To this date, I’m not exactly sure what was being celebrated, but the fiestas apparently included wild street and beach parties until the wee hours of the morning. This explained the silent streets and closed shops.
My walking tour group was pretty small. The English speakers split into a group and I found myself with a British couple, two Polish women, and a German-Syrian guy named Vian. Interesting mix. Our tour guide, Luis, is a Malagueño (or a Boqueron, as they are nicknamed in Spain), so he knew Malaga like the back of his hand. We wandered through the historical quarter for a couple of hours, stopping at notable locations like Alcazaba, Teatro Cervantes, and el Centro Historico.
By the time we finished the tour, it was nearly 2:30 and we were all starving. Luis recommended we eat at the famous Bodega Bar El Pimpi, which specializes in a variety of Malagueño food; typically a collection of fried seafood. It was nice to see tons of seafood options on the menu rather than the typical ham options in Madrid, and the food was delicious.
At this point, the British couple went on their way (and the Polish girls had decided to eat somewhere else for lunch), so I was left with Vian. He had already been everywhere in it the city but agreed to walk me to Alcazaba. On our way, we ran into the Spanish couple that had been on the Spanish tour that morning, and I ended up joining them for the rest of the day.
Luckily my Spanish was better than their English, so I got a good few hours of practice in! Together, the three of us explored both of the formerly Moorish fortresses: Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro. The Castillo was located on an impressively steep hill, and my thigh muscles were burning in no time. The views we got from the top were totally worth it, though!
Afterward, we wandered back towards the city center via these beautiful botanical gardens. The girl, Galyna, offered a ton of interesting information about the different plants.
At this point, I was feeling like a member of the walking dead so I went back to my guesthouse while the other two went to the museum of modern art. I met them a couple of hours later after a much-needed shower, and we tiredly wandered to a random bar for tapas.
I opted to try ajo blanco, an Andalusian soup made of garlic, almonds, and bread. Cold soups (including gazpacho) are an Andalusian specialty, but I was not a fan. I found the cold creaminess to be a particularly strange flavor for soup, but I’m glad I tried it nonetheless.
The three of us had really great conversations about politics and history, and I was really excited to use my Spanish (in case you couldn’t tell). I think if I were to spend a few months in Spain then I could easily speak at an advanced level!
Anyway, we were all exhausted and I started heading back towards my guesthouse. We were temporarily diverted by a parade of costume-clad people, clearly representing the old royals of Spain. I’m guessing this was the final celebration of the fiesta. Either way, they were quite a sight!
At this point, I was more than ready for bed. I managed to drag myself back to my guesthouse, where I promptly passed out.
Not bad for my first day of solo travel! So far, traveling “alone” has had its perks!
Stay tuned to read more about my upcoming Andalusian adventures.
TLDR: a short summary of what I did and where I ate for those too lazy to read the post
Where I went:
- Walking tour of Central Malaga: Visited a ton of the historical monuments from the outside, and heard my first delve into the violent Andalusian history
- Alcazaba: One of two fortresses that once protected the city from attack and has distinct Arab-style architecture.
- Castillo de Gibralfaro: The castle that once housed troops that protected the Alcazaba. Has a beautiful courtyard and offers amazing views of the city on top.
What I ate:
- A mix of fried seafood from Bodega Bar El Pimpi
- Ajoblanco (almond garlic soup) from a random bar – not good
Where I stayed:
- Hostal Vidamia: More of a guesthouse than a hostel conveniently located in Central Malaga. Really great service with equally nice rooms, although I could see how the room would be small for multiple people. Has a great community vibe as well!