Bull Ring in Malaga
Hello from Malaga Spain. Surprise - we have actually been here before! Except for repeating the whole Alaskan cruise, this is actually the first time we have repeated a visit to a cruise port. It was interesting to see the improvements that have been made to the cruise port, because there was major construction underway back in 2010. And to follow up on that memory, in 2010 we and the Sieberts went to the picturesque little village of Mijas on the hills above the Costa del Sol. Anyway, we weren’t going back there but instead we went for a tour here in Malaga – more about that in a moment.
We had to report by 9:10 this morning so we got up a few minutes earlier than usual to have time for a couple of good omelets in the dining room. Today’s tour was marked as Strenuous and was supposed to take 4.5 hours so we wanted to start with lots of energy but not to be overly stuffed. These omelets were just right (when you added the juice, pastries, bacon, and hash browns). We reported to the theater a little early and our group actually got away
Statue of Picasso in Malaga
ahead of the “report time”.
Our tour was titled Malaga Cathedral & Alcazaba. We were the last two people in our group as we left the theater and headed for our bus. But before we could even get off the ship we ran into trouble. You have to show you cruise card to leave the ship and Janet’s replacement card (see last night) did not have her picture in the computer so they wouldn’t let her leave without doing some checking and moving her picture from the old card to her new card. So we dashed as fast as we could through the new large terminal to try to find our bus before it left without us. Not to worry – we made it in time and got on just before they left for the tour.
We started with a drive through town, while our guide pointed out areas of interest or historical significance. This is a much larger city than we remembered and our guide (Rodrigo) said that 10 million tourists come to Malaga every year – that’s a lot of people! There were 2 cruise ships in port today and
Roman Theater with Alcazaba in background
we crossed paths with a large number of those passengers during our walking today. Anyway, we finished our city tour with a photo-op at a scenic lookout point below the Moorish fortress El Castillo de Gibralfaro. The bus parked in the bus-lot and then we walked down to the lookout point. It gave us a very impressive view of the city and the Mediterranean. We could see our ship, the bull ring (which was built in 1874), the city hall, the Alcazaba (see more below), the Malaga Cathedral, and the mountain range beyond the city where they quarry white and pint marble that is used frequently in Malaga. However we had to walk back up the hill to the bus – walking down was a little tiring but going up was much more tiring. But we made it back to the bus.
The bus drove us back down into town about 10:00 and we said farewell to the bus until the tour was over. The rest of the time was a walking tour. That started with a walk to the Plaza de la Merced where we were able to see the ruins of an ancient Roman Theater
Part of path inside Alcazaba
and also Picasso's Birth House. Near Picasso’s house there is a statue of him sitting on a bench. He left Malaga when he was a child and did most of his work in France, but these folks still lay claim to his birthplace. There are also jacaranda trees with their purple blooms. Rodrigo explained that the current streets and building are resting on top of an ancient Roman (and then Moorish) city. There is a glass pyramid covering an opening in the sidewalk near the Roman Theater where you can look down and see some of the old Roman materials.
Next we walked over to visit the Alcazaba. This looks like a fortress with three series of protective walls, on a steep hill, but it was actually a palace. The paths are cobblestone and the steps are fairly steep and irregular bricks. It was extremely taxing for Janet to climb, so Rodrigo suggested that she and four others elect to wait at the first wall while the rest of us invaded the palace. Frankly the climb was taxing for everyone (including David) so she definitely made the right decision. You had to pass through several Moorish archways
Part of Gardens at top of Alcazaba
going through the inner walls, so the palace certainly could have been well defended if needed. From the top there were about 10 rooms around a couple gardens and patios. There were also great views of the areas below. Perhaps the highlights for some were the bathrooms – Moors had really modern plumbing! It is unfortunate that Janet could not see the upper level in person, but David did take a lot of photos although he can’t recall all the things Rodrigo said about each place. She had been told that our group would be back in around 20 minutes but it actually took 35 minutes due to the steep climb and the large number of other people, as well as Rodrigo talking a lot J.
We picked up Janet and the others, and the group made its way back down to the street. Outside the Alcazaba grounds we went down the street to a coffee shop for a 10 minute rest break. There was a lady selling delicious almonds so we got a couple of packets and that helped refresh everyone. This was just adjacent to the Malaga Cathedral. It had been built between the 16th
Patio in Alcazaba
and 18th centuries on the site of a mosque. The cathedral is known as La Manquita, "the one-armed one," due to its uncompleted second tower. The architectural style of the cathedral is a blend of a Baroque facade, a Gothic floor, a superb Renaissance altar, magnificent Baroque choir stalls, and an organ with 3,600 pipes (they did not play it for us). Inside Rodrigo was not supposed to use his loudspeaker, so we had to stay close to hear his description of each chapel, alter, doorway, painting, and sculpture. He was truly a fountain of information. All we can really do is to summarize that it really is very impressive.
We then had about half an hour to browse through the nearby shops, get something from the restaurants, or just sit and rest. There were half a dozen banks nearby, so David went off to try to withdraw some Euros, but he could not find our bank. We still have a few Euros from our transaction on the ship, but it would have been nice to get an additional supply. Janet was able to rest at out meeting place and started feeling better. Somehow the whole group
View of Cathedral from viewing lookout near El
Castillo de Gibralfaro (Moorish Castle)
came back together at roughly the right time, and we walked a few blocks back to City Hall where our bus was waiting for us. Then it was a short drive back to the port and onto the ship. But altogether it was a good but tiring excursion today – hopefully some of the pictures will be good.
By then it was 2:30 and we were kind of hungry, so we went directly to the Lido Deck and got a couple of slices of pizza and a coke/ice tea. We had very good weather today with it being only slightly overcast part of the time, a gentle breeze, and temperatures in the middle 70s. Everybody stayed dry with nobody getting dowsed with sea spray today. After our late lunch we had a couple of hours to rest in the cabin and do a little work on the computer. Janet has come to enjoy an afternoon Salted Caramel Coffee and David likes a pint of Newcastle Draft. So we got ourselves recharged from this strenuous day and cleaned up for our dinner.
At dinner we had all 6 people again. They had already slid the
One of the chapels inside cathedral
tables together expecting us to arrive – it’s so nice to feel wanted. We hadn’t really seen Jim and Bonnie for a few days, so there was a lot of catching up about what everyone had been doing. It turned out that Jerry and Joyce actually took the same tour as us, but they were in a different bus and saw things in a slightly different way than with our guide. Regardless we had a good dinner. Janet had Shrimp Cocktail as an appetizer and David had Goat Cheese Soufflé and Fettucine Alfredo. Then we each had strawberry sorbet as an intermezzo. For her entrée, Janet had Divers Scallops and David had Flank Steak. We each had a glass of wine with dinner. Janet skipped dessert and just had her decaf coffee with Irish Cream and David had Chocolate Lover’s Delight and a glass of Port. It was a good dinner.
After dinner we thought about going to the theater to watch the production show with the Singers and Dancers. The name of the show is “Spectacular” but we decided to stay in the cabin tonight and rest our feet while we watch the movie “Spectre” (the newest James Bond Movie). We can see the show on the following cruise. So that pretty well wraps up our report from Malaga.
One general comment – it was difficult to get good pictures showing he overall buildings of the cathedral or of Alcazaba. There are buildings up close to both, so the only decent pictures are from above and from long distance. Also, we were not allowed to use a flash inside the cathedral so the colors are a little off on many of those photos.
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