Apart from the obvious reason of wanting a holiday, I have three other reasons for wanting to be in Malaga: Art – enjoying its rich modern art scene with the brilliant art historian Marie-Anne Mancio of Hotel Alphabet; food – Malaga has a reputation for having some of the best food and wine in Spain; and sun. Unfortunately the sun wasn’t playing today but hiding instead behind dark grey clouds that burst into heavy downpours during the morning. However, the art and food was everything I’d hoped for. So, on balance, it’s been a very good day indeed.
The day began, after breakfast in the hotel, with a 20-minute walk through the old historic centre to the harbour area where the Centre Pompidou Malaga is situated; the art group’s meeting place this morning.
Despite the inclement weather it was a lovely walk through mainly pedestrianised streets, passing beautiful elegant buildings, narrow streets, and the cathedral.
Nearing the seafront, I passed through a park area and along a wide pavement lined with trees.
What struck me on my walk was the beauty of the city – a glorious surprise as I’d had no idea it was so lovely before I came – and its greenery: lots of trees and plants. It’s a city that seems cared for.
As I arrived at the seafront and looked to my left, the Pompidou Centre was easy to spot, its colourful exterior a mirror of the original Paris Centre. Getting into it was slightly more difficult. I walked round completely puzzled by how to get inside. A local elderly man came to my rescue. As he walked me to the entrance (down a nearby ramp), my pretty non-existent Spanish gathered enough of what he was saying to know he was passing compliments and asking if I was married! Grateful as I was for his help, I was pleased to suddenly catch sight of Marie-Anne’s husband Paul and more of the art group and bid a hasty adios and gracias.
Once inside I was delighted to see what a magnificent space it was, so beautifully designed and a fabulous background to the art displays. The building was worth a visit on its own, though we did see some good art too.
Afterwards we made our way to the Picasso Museum. Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881 and you cannot escape his presence in the city. You can visit the house where he was born and many places are named after him, including the restaurant at my hotel. However, he didn’t spend much of his long life – he lived to the age of 91 – here. Picasso left Malaga for Paris when he was 19 and never came back.
After lunch we finished our art day at the Museo Carmen Thyssen where we saw not only the permanent collection of modern art but also a temporary show of Matisse’s Jazz. The day was a stimulating and enjoyable mix of Marie-Anne’s informed and interesting commentary to the displays and the input from members of the group, all art enthusiasts, so why they’re here! Photography was strictly not allowed so I can only show you a bit of the buldings!
Inbetween Picasso and Matisse (who were contemporaries and knew each other; indeed were rivals of sorts for the title of leader of their art movements), I had a very good lunch at a restaurant opposite the Thyssen museum with Helen from the group. It was an attractive place – Marisqueria Canela Fina. We decided to order paella. We wanted something warm after the rain. But paella at lunchtime is good in Spain; they don’t like eating rice in the evening as they believe its not so easily digested later in the day.
We were given some complimentary tortilla first, which was very good.
The paella (€28 for 2) was delicious. It was quite soft and wet – sometimes they’re served very dry – and we enjoyed it a lot.
It was 4pm when we came out of the Thyssen and I was definitely in need of a rest. My hotel was barely 5-minutes walk away. Once there I went up on to the roof terrace for a look across the city and ordered a coffee from the bar. The views were wonderful.
I rested in my room for a while, but with the sun beginning to make an appearance outside I decided to go out and explore. And exploring in the direction of one of Malaga’s best ice cream shops seemed a good plan. I’d read about Casa Mira – established as long ago as 1890 – before I came and its reputation is well deserved. I had an excellent small cup (€2.70) of orange ice cream with chocolate shards in it. I thought orange and chocolate were good Spanish flavours!
I walked back to the hotel through Plaza de la Constitucion. It’s like the heart and hub of the area and very lovely.
Later, showered and refreshed I went in search of supper. There are so many places to choose from but after last night’s disappointing ‘pot luck’ I decided to seek help from my guide book and the internet. One of the most well-known and popular places to go – and also recommended by my hotel – is El Pimpi. The famous go there, people like Rafael Nadal, and to an extent that puts me off. But when I took a look it was inviting. I opted for the bar area rather than the more formal restaurant.
I ordered wine (€1.80), which came with olives and bread, and chose two tapas. I imagined they’d be quite small and I might want to order more. As it happened, they were quite big – and it was as well I only ordered two.
The Salmorjo (€6) – a thick tomato and garlic cold soup; smoother than gazpacho – was amazing. It was so good it was one of those dishes that stops you in your tracks and you think, Wow! I also chose a traditional Malaga Salad (€3.50) – potato, salted cod and oranges. This was gorgeous too.
OK, they were large tapas but I’m on holiday so a dessert was called for. When I saw they had cheesecake I remembered the glorious – and famous – cheesecake I had in a tapas bar in San Sebastián with my good friend Annie a couple of years ago. So cheesecake was what I ordered.
It looked good – though large like the tapas! – but was disappointing. Instead of the soft creamy cake I remembered from San Sebastián this was quite solid, almost like cutting into a chunk of cheese. It wasn’t bad really, just not what I expected and I couldn’t finish it. But I did love El Pimpi and their tapas were so fantastic I’m just going to have to go back another day.