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Published: December 12th 2007
Malaga Spain has been a wonderful surprise, much much more than the tourist ghetto we'd been expecting. This ancient city, palpably Roman but actually occupied much earlier by the Phoenicians, has shattered our stereotype of the shallow Costa Del Sol resort town.
It's actually a decent-sized city, and getting from the airport into town was more of a challenge than we'd expected, even having perused Google sat photos beforehand. (For the record, there ARE sufficient connections across the riverside natural preserve area that cyclists don't need to take the heinous Autovia bridges into town.)
The GPS guided us directly to our pre-selected, Lonely Planet-approved pension, the Hotel California. (Coincidently, Kate and I first met at a same-named hotel some 15 years ago in Baja, Mexico. Everybody say "Awwwh....") The beautiful room, with a Mediterrnean-view balcony, was outside our acknowledged budget, but we rationalized it as a necessary recovery perk from our 12-hour, 4-airport transit event (Denver->Boston->Dublin->Malaga, for $360) which actually went incredibly smoothly.
After various resynchronizing naps, we set out to explore the town, and haven't stopped for 4 days. Highest on the must-visit list has been Malaga's 10th century Alcazaba castle and the accompanying Gilbrafaro fort, situated
near the harbor on Malaga's highest hill above an ancient Roman amphitheatre. We thoroughly enjoyed the nearly full day we spent exploring these sites, while also, by way of nourishment and refreshment, dipping our toes gingerly into Spain's tapas culture.
The Spainards have curious - to us - feeding habits, involving many small meals at strange times and including copious amounts of very delicious and very inexpensive espresso, beer and red wine (we initially confused the price/glass with the price/BOTTLE!) We are having trouble holding off until 9PM for dinner and are still the first ones being seated in awkwardly empty restaurants. And with all the cheap diuretics around we're finding it hard to drink enough water and stay hydrated.
Another must-see is Malaga's main cathedral, called "one-armed" since it's 2nd tower was never completed. As to be expected, the experience of the interior spaces and ornamentation was awesome. We suspect, however, that with a Gothic cathedral in every decent-sized Spanish city that we'll soon be "cathedral-ed out".
We also rode out to Malaga's botanical gardens, spending the afternoon browsing the shady paths and marvelling at how California-like everything appears. 90% of the native Spanish plant materials
Malaguetas sign on the beach, Malaga
The weather was ALMOST warm enugh for a beach hang, but we'll have our real chance in Morocco...
(and alot of the non-natives we saw) could be found in the average Santa Cruz neighborhood. The weather here has also been quite Santa Cruz-like, perhaps a bit sunnier and warmer, ALMOST warm enough for the beach.
Our plan has been to cycle down the Costa del Sol to Gibraltar and take the ferry to Morocco, but everything we've heard so far warns against trying to cycle in the crazy traffic. So before going south to Gibraltar, we'll head inland through the hill country to Seville, where we'll file our next blog posting.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Check our expanded gallery of travel photos at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_hoge/collections/72157613626339376 And visit our home page at:
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