Thursday, May 27, 2010
While planning for our trip to Spain in the midst of volcano related airport shutdowns and airline strikes, we were starting to consider back up plans in case we couldn't make it. In fact, LHR was closed the morning of the day we flew out to Málaga. But somehow all the stars aligned for us and here we are, in beautiful Andalusia (province in southern Spain).
Málaga is the second most populous city of Andalusia and is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is also the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas (somehow I don't feel that they belong in the same sentence yet they are often cited together). James had first heard about the city when his former employer HP held an offsite there. He couldn't go back then and had always wanted to see what everyone was raving about.
We rented a small house near Plaza de la Merced in Málaga. I initially thought it was an empty neighborhood since all the homes had their window shutters closed. But upon entering the home, I could clearly hear my neighbors. Perhaps the shutters are closed to keep privacy or to keep the house cool, but it makes the ground level living area quite dark and depressing.
Here we are in front of our house and at Plaza de la Merced. Picasso grew up in one of the yellow apartments by the Plaza.
One of the things we really had to adjust to was the Spanish schedule. Most business hours are from 10am-2pm, then from 5pm-8pm. Restaurants are open from 1pm - 4pm, then from 8pm-I don't know when since we're never out that late. Our schedule is dictated by master Jackson, who wakes up at 6am and goes down for the night at 8pm promptly (with a morning and an afternoon nap sandwiched in). To minimize disruptions to his schedule, our daily routine consisted of eating pastries for breakfast, eat out for lunch at 1pm and dine in for dinner. Sadly we have not had a tapas night since we got here and the only take out options at night are shwarmas, pizzas and a surprisingly good Chinese restaurant. The only meals I cook are for Jackson since cooking a dinner for us would require too many basic ingredients that our kitchen lacked (like oil, salt and pepper).
The weather has been spectacular, sunny and 70s every day. We walked around the city, toured the Alcazaba (a moorish fort), walked up to the Gibralfaro castle, and visited the Picasso museum.
We also took a day trip to Marbella (1 hr by bus), a luxury resort town that's like Spain's St. Tropez. Lots of fancy cars and big yachts by Puerto Banus, along with high end shopping.
In contrast to Puerto Banus, the Casco Antiguo (Old Quarter) of Marbella was very charming, with narrow and winding cobblestone streets. We visited during siesta hours so the stores were all closed. It was actually quite nice to stroll along the empty streets.
After a week in Málaga, we took a 2 hour bus ride to Granada...