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November 21st 2017
Published: November 22nd 2017
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I came home with tales of the latest holiday plans of the colleagues at work. Canary Islands. Southern Spain. East Midlands Airport flights naturally. "Can we go somewhere normal?", the Other Half politely inquired. I scanned the potential fixture list, before passing comment. We could have a long weekend in Malaga, I tentatively suggested after eyeing up the Malaga CF clash with Deportivo La Coruna. The plan was readily agreed and so I find myself on the tarmac at Castle Donnington studying with amazement as to how much the grey pound generation can conceivably try to cram on a plane as hand luggage. Michael O'Leary et al have spent years trying to redefine the parameters of air travel, but he has made no impact on this lot who have spent the last 40 years taking everything but the kitchen sink to Torremolinos and Benidorm. Jet2 have stepped in to fill the void and offer 23 km of free hold luggage, as well as seemingly a no questions asked policy to hand luggage. The usual suspects were on board. Why enter the plane from the front steps, when your seats are near the back? We were split up across the aisle. The desire to sit together is overcome by the desire not to part with an extra £12 or whatever. The safety announcements over, a warning was issued not to consume alcohol purchased in the duty free to keep the aircraft free from anti-social behaviour. The pilot had been drafted in from his other job as a holiday camp rep and we were treated to a detailed and excitable explanation of the route. He would have done well pitching on The Apprentice. The bloke behind had been paying full attention. "Hampshire coast down there", he confidently stated to his wife. "French coast down there". Fortunately he had forgotten the script by the time we reached Spanish airspace and he fell silent. The attention turned to food. A surprising number had taken advantage of the pre-flight marketing and booked a meal. These were old hands and looked most pleased that they achieved royal service by being attended to first. The others tucked into their array of crisps and cobs. In spite of noon having passed, there was no rush to fuel up on alcohol. However, the guy in the Glasgow Rangers away shirt was taking no chances. He was clearly determined to stay one step ahead of the new minimum alcohol pricing laws being implemented by the powers north of the border. An interesting choice of a can of Stella with a vodka and Irn Bru chaser was selected. The majority of others settled down to their Daily Mails - imperative to keep up to speed with how the Brexit escape plans are progressing - and their word search puzzle books - important to keep the brain active, when you won't be able to watch Pointless this afternoon. The guy next to me settled on the word search "Forests of the UK". Let us just say, he found it a struggle. Jet2 know their market and helpfully included a word search in the In-flight magazine. The half completed puzzle in my magazine suggested a complete inability to spell Albafeira, so it was good job the plane wasn't on the Faro run. It was ironic that the headline on the Daily Mail newspaper was about the baby boomer generation with no mortgages and bags of equity, spending their cash and not empathising with the younger folk struggling to get on the housing ladder. The weather forecast in Malaga was treated to a round of applause. I purchased a scratch card and was disappointed by my success. The huge prize for matching 2 clocks was to win a "free" scratchcard and to have to relive the excitement. 20% off vouchers for the duty free goods were handed out - only valid in this flight was reiterated over the tannoy. Alas, the whole world does not aspire to a Michael Korrs perfume. My 2nd scratchcard was a loser. We landed early at Malaga Airport.

Malaga Airport is very conveniently situated just to the west of the central area. A 2 minute stroll out of the terminal, you are at the suburban rail station. The majority would head to the beach resorts further West, but we bought our 1.80 Euro tickets toward the City. The western suburbs of Madagascar are very concrete and very uninspiring. Four stations later alighted at Centro. The first station is named Victoria Kent - a Spanish lawyer and Republican. At first glance, Malta does not look very promising. The dried up river bed that cuts the Old Town from the New resembles a giant storm drain. It is only as you approach the port end, that water makes an appearance. The part further inland doubles as a blank canvas for graffiti artists, a place to walk the dog and a giant football pitch for the local kids. The hotel was a 10 minute walk into the maze of narrow streets. It was boutique, which is usually a code word for small and expensive. We were on a cheap city break, so all was included. The big disadvantage of being so central would become apparent later. We went to explore. The first port of call was the roof terrace on the 4th floor. The red roof tops glistened in the late afternoon sun. It was mid-November, but with blue skies and no breeze it was pleasantly warm. The small rooftop swimming pool was covered for the winter. Christmas lights decorations seemed somewhat out of place in Andalucia, but we're fortunately spared the Christmas Market syndrome. The decorations were quite tasteful.

The main street in the old town was a hub of activity late on this Friday afternoon. Locals mixed with tourists in a frenzy of retail activity. The last time we were in Malaga the street had been decorated with life size plastic goats. The Cathedral was closing, but the cafes in the square were busy with diners. We walked on towards the new port area. A big wheel similar to the London Eye was moving slowly. A part of the old port have been transformed into cruise central. A large Fred Olsen liner was docked. The Bahamas flag fluttered on the stern. A much larger vessel lay on the far side of the port. It looked like a floating hotel and was christened Regent. There was no sign of a flag of origin, so perhaps it never sailed. It was still there come from Monday morning. The passengers milled around - spending their kids inheritance on a final few souvenirs before the ship upped anchor and left on the tide. Next stop. Barcelona or wherever. The bright conditions had brought out a few models. Oh, how my long lense would have come in handy. The walkway was scattered with giant works of art in some form of temporary outdoor exhibition. A number of small tour boats touted for business - sunset cruise anyone? An open air plaza doubled as an art space. A few sat around a bar area in the centre listening to a band. The area towards the lighthouse was a series of shops and then restaurants. The walls of Malaga Castle glowed orange high above.

The temperature fell sharply as darkness fell. We retreated to the room to get changed and strolled out into the night. We walked away from the tourist traps in the main centre and took up residence near the Cervantes Theatre. We sat outstanding watched the theatre goers clad in their winter coats head towards the evening performance. It certainly wasn't warm, but to the average Malaga resident winter had arrived with a vengeance. They wouldn't last long on Teesside, that is all I can say. The tapas place opposite attracted big numbers of locals, so we thought why not. The restaurant and wine bar next door was clearly owned by the same people and that was packed too. We thought we'd give it a go. Alas, no tables. We were directed round the corner, where 50 metres away 2 more establishments in the same ownership made up the empire. The Taberna De Cervantes was the budget end of their spectrum, which suited us fine and so it became evening food headquarters for the weekend. The food was mainly tapas, but with a bit of class. Black Pudding with a quail egg. The clientele sufficiently international to endure an English and a German menu translation was available. We retreated back to the hotel early by local standards. The disadvantages of the central location become obvious at this time of night. The Spanish are night owls and by are they loud. Silence is treated as a challenge. Young and old. They all compete to be heard. The volume rises and goes on well into the next morning.

Malaga is a museum city. The big names are Picasso and the Carmen Thyssen. The latter was a mere 2 minute walk from the hotel, but they could wait for tomorrow. We had the 2 top rated museums in town in mind for today. First up. Cars & Girls. The Motor Museum with a twist is set in an old tobacco factory, which is a fine building without the contents. The museum shares the complex with the Russian Museum – an art gallery with a theme of the motherland. There was no time in the schedule to visit and besides it is free on a Sunday afternoon. We set off from the hotel and got side-tracked in the market. The stalls were very active selling their fish, meat and fruit products. As with all European markets, the choice of fish is way beyond what you would expect to see in the UK equivalent. Fresh and ready to be served in the local restaurants. The concept in the motor museum in Malaga is to marry classic cars next to classic dresses of the era. As well as classic motors, pieces of Dior and Chanel abound. In amongst the Cadillacs, Jaguars and Ferraris, garments worn by the rich and famous were positioned. The museum was about a 15 minute walk west from the Maria Zambrano rail station. We walked back along the seafront looking for a late lunch, but we're turned away from a seafood place overwhelmed by the locals enjoying their food in the sunshine. We had to settle for a nearby establishment, which was no doubt inferior but met our needs.

After our lunch and seaside stroll, we visited the Museum of Glass & Crystal in the city centre. It sounds a bit average, but was anything but. A huge personal collection is displayed in an old merchants house 10 minutes walk above the main town. The collection is displayed amongst period furniture, which are the legacy of the other owners noble past. Who else happens to have a portrait of Queen Victoria's mother in the family album? There was some serious loot in the forefathers. The glass and the furniture is enthusiastically explained in English by one of the owners for the measly sum of 6 Euros. In all honesty, it was worth the admission just to have a wander round a typical Andalucian house of the period. The reviews of both museums on TripAdvisor are not wrong.

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23rd November 2017

I visited Malaga many years ago when I spent a winter month in Fuengirola.

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