And just like that, it was gone

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Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Málaga
November 25th 2006
Published: December 5th 2006
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The train pulled into the station in Málaga around 4. The sky was overcast, and it started sprinkling rain as I walked out of the station. I was really beginning to wonder why Andalucía has such a reputation for sunshine with all this crappy weather. I dodged the rain under overhangs as I followed the signs towards the center to track down a map. As I walked, I was struck by how modern the city is. There is an historic center, but the area around the main station is quite new, full of high-rise apartment blocks. It's also a large city, with more than 500,000 inhabitants, which surprised me since I had never heard of it before coming to Spain.

The signs were easy enough to follow, and I got a map without too much trouble. I asked at the tourist information where the youth hostel was, and the woman said it was quite far and I would need to take a bus. When someone tells me something is far, I think several miles, so I set off to find the bus she mentioned. I got on the bus, and asked the driver to let me know when to get off. After less than 10 minutes of winding through the city, the driver stopped and said to get off. Now, I wasn't exactly sure how far we had gone, but it wasn't more than a mile. Oh well, the map they gave me didn't have the hostel on it, and the woman working at the office was more interested in her cell phone conversation, so I guess the bus was the best option anyway.

Inside the hostel, I found tons of teenagers milling around. It looked like the place was quite popular with school groups from other cities. It also looked like I wasn't likely to meet any other backpackers. My room was a four bed dorm, and I was the only one in it when I got there. The hostel had a laundry room, so I made that my top priority. Of course, as I was washing the clothes, the washing machine got stuck. It stopped working when it was completely full of water so I couldn't even pull the stuff out. The reception gave me another token, and after about 10 minutes of nothing the washer suddenly started working. As soon as it finished the first spin I pulled everything out and threw the clothes in the dryer. After nearly 2 hours of washing and drying I finally had clean, if somewhat wet, clothes.

I called it a night early because I picked up a bit of a cold and I wanted to get some rest. At 10, two german guys showed up, so I didn't end up having the room to myself, but at least they were quiet when they came back in the wee hours.

The next morning I woke up feeling worse, but as soon as I looked out the window I knew that I had to get up. There wasn't a cloud to be seen anywhere, and I certainly wasn't going to hang around the hostel with clear weather finally. I got some breakfast and set off for the castle.

The castle is located on a hilltop, and the views from the top (as well as the walk up) were absolutely fantastic. Málaga is ringed by hills on three sides with the ocean to the south. Just visible in the distance, behind the hills, are larger mountains. The city is spread out over all of the available land, even going
Neighborhood churchNeighborhood churchNeighborhood church

Across the street from the hostel
up into the hills.

Exploring the castle was a real treat as I was one of the only people walking around inside for at least an hour. After I was done checking out the castle, I walked down to the beach, which was a bit of a disappointment. The sand looked like dirt and there were absolutely no waves to speak of. I walked along the promenade for a little while before heading towards the old part of town.

Málaga has a fairly compact old center (at least compared to Sevilla), and it was easy to explore on foot. I tracked down a cheap internet place in the Plaza de Merced and decided I would come back there later in the day. I walked back to the hostel and ate lunch (pizza), and grabbed my bag to go back to the internet place.

The internet place was actually a bar/gaming parlor with 20 PC's near the back. They put me on a computer next to the back door and I was sitting with my daypack on the floor next to my leg. There were a lot of people going in and out of the back door, so I had pretty much started ignoring the traffic.

I had been in the place for almost four hours updating the blog and I was working on proofreading the last entry when I heard the door slam hard. I thought to myself "someone must be in a hurry," but I didn't look up immediately. When I finally did look away from the screen several seconds later, I noticed my bag was gone. Just like that, it had disappeared. I looked around frantically for a couple of seconds until I noticed a guy in the corner gesturing towards the back door. I connected the slamming door with the bag's disappearance, and I was through the doors into the alley in an instant. I was primed to sprint up the alley after someone, but I never had to.

About 10 feet from the back door was a guy standing next to a parked car with my bag in his hands. I yelled "Hey!" (really loud in retrospect) and the weird thing is, as I grabbed the bag from him, he didn't say a word. As soon as I had it in my hands, he moved to the other side of the parked car and started frantically gesturing into a nearby construction site. The site was pitch black, and there was a chainlink fence blocking it off. He was being really insistent that I go in, and I thought about it for a second, before saying "Fuck that, I'm not going in there." I turned around and walked back inside the internet place and sat down. As I went through the bag, my hands were visibly shaking from the adrenaline rush. I really was ready for anything as I went out that door it seems. The only thing that seemed to be missing was my mp3 player, but I thought there was an off chance that I had left it at the hostel, so that's what I hoped as I finished the blog entry I was working on and left.

As I walked back to the hostel, I went over the incident in my mind. I've pretty much decided that the guy holding the bag was the perpetrator. I didn't consider it at the time, probably because my judgement was clouded by adrenaline and the fact that I got my bag back so easily. I am really glad, though, that I
Sunset on the MedSunset on the MedSunset on the Med

It was so tranquil away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
decided not to go into that construction site because I think he would have followed me in and mugged me. There is a chance that he was not the guy, I mean he didn't take off running as soon as I came out, but he had enough time to go through the bag and decide there really wasn't anything of value in it, so maybe he just played it cool. I'll never know, but I did learn a valuable lesson about how easily something like that can happen with even the slightest distraction.

When I got back to the hostel I found the mp3 player in my other bag, and so I didn't lose anything at all. It really was a close call, though, as my written journal and some important documents were in the daypack.

The next day I slept in and then in the afternoon walked around the newer part of the city a bit. I also tried to go to the Picasso museum, but the line outside was huge, so I bailed. Otherwise, I pretty much just hung around the hostel until dusk when I decided to walk down to another beach.

It was a good 30 minute walk, but I was rewarded with a much nicer beach that I walked along for maybe a mile in the fading light. The beach had great views looking back towards the main part of the city and the port, which was really cool. It was after dark by the time I got back to the hostel and got some food. It was just me in the room for the second night, and I read for a bit before going to bed early.

The next morning I still wasn't feeling much better, so I decided to delay my departure by another day, and I hung out at the hostel for most of the day reading and resting.

I did finally leave after 4 nights in Málaga, and so that's where this entry ends. Aside from the bag snatching incident (which I think could have happened anywhere) I really liked Málaga. The people were really nice, the city was clean and I got to see a slice of normal spanish city life for a couple days since I was staying quite a ways from the tourist center. However, I'm getting a bit annoyed at how few people I'm meeting at these HI hostels, but it's off season and most people just stick to big name cities like Sevilla I guess. With nice weather, Andalucía really is a charming place that I'm happy to be spending so much time in.

Stay tuned for Marbella.


18th January 2007

Great instincts! And smart to trust your instincts...

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