I woke to dark stormy skies and the promise of rain for the entire morning – though sun to follow in the afternoon. I didn’t want to stay in the hotel for much of the day, so ventured out. It was quiet and early in the day, the rain light. It’s quite hazardous walking around the historic centre in the rain as most of it, while pedestrianised, is paved with marble stone which is very slippery. Even if there’s no rain, large trucks are out in the morning hosing everything down making all the roads and walkways wet. And that’s great because it’s very clean everywhere – but you do need to tread very carefully. I’ve slipped over a couple of times and have to resist any urge to hurry.
There was only one thing to do as the rain got heavier – find coffee and shelter! I couldn’t have found a better place than El Ultimo Mono Juice & Coffee in Calle Sta. Maria.
Funky inside, it was a place that really knows its coffee – as was immediately evidenced when I ordered. What proportion of milk to coffee did I want; how many shots? Inevitably, finding another coffee enthusiast, we delved deeply into a coffee discussion. The coffee itself was excellent – a cappuccino, which he knew should be one part milk to two parts coffee – and I had a slice of delicious banana and chocolate bread with it. I made myself comfortable in a big armchair and got out my book. It was tempting to stay there all morning but when the weather seemed to clear a bit, I went out again.
However, the rain soon grew heavier and I sought sanctuary at Cafe Central and had another coffee. I made it inside just in time because the heavens opened and a terrific rainstorm crashed down onto Malaga’s streets.
Once it calmed again I decided the only thing to do was head back to the hotel – just 5 minutes walk away – as my phone promised the rain would continue for another couple of hours.
By midday it had brightened and I headed to Los Gatos in Plaza Uncibay for lunch, which I’d read about and is always full when I pass by. I’ve been lunching and dining on tapas because it’s what I’m happiest doing here. Gorgeous morsels of food in attractive and informal bars.
Food tends to come in 3 sizes: tapas (small size), raciones (half portion) and full portion. Some are only available in the portions – not tapas – size. I ordered a glass of cava to start (€2) and a small bottle of water (€1.10), which came with bread and olives. I chose a tapas size tortilla (€3.50) and a raciones of sweet pepper stuffed with cod and prawns (€8.50).
The tortilla was a big slice – easily enough for 2 to share in a selection of dishes. The peppers was a large portion too but tapas size wasn’t an option – 4 small but whole stuffed peppers. It was all really delicious – though I didn’t quite finish it. The service was so friendly too and so Los Gatos was a great choice.
My ‘plan’ for the day was to visit the Moorish Alcazaba Fortress, a small part of which was built by the Moors in the 8th century but most built in the 11th century.
However, as I approached it, despite following a sign, I missed the entrance (which later I saw in my guide book was by the entrance to the Roman Theatre) and I found myself climbing up to the Gibralfaro Castle, which dates from the 14th century. It turned out to be a fortunate mistake for the views were spectacular and worth the climb. It is a very steep, long climb, but the real drawback is there are no rails to hold on to so coming back down was a bit nerve racking and I took it very slowly. I did see taxis and even a bus at the top which had clearly come via a different route but I thought it was much nicer to walk and enjoy the views on the way back down.
At one point you can see down on to bullring: La Malagueta. And some way up – though before the top – there’s a good viewing point.
I was really pleased to have done the climb and seen the castle and enjoyed the views across Malaga. Afterwards I headed back to the hotel for a while. One of the great advantages of staying in the heart of a city is to be able to pop back and forth to the hotel easily. With the sun now shining brightly though, it seemed a waste to stay in long so I set out again to see the fortress – this time armed with directions from my guidebook!
It turned out there was free entry to both the castle and fortress after 2pm on Sundays. I don’t know if this is always the case but neither are expensive (about €3).
I really love visiting Moorish places and while this is nowhere near as stunning (nor so large) and Granada’s Alhambra, it was still a lovely place to wander round for a while.
There was quite a lot of greenery and the typical Moorish arches and water features. And even a cafe at one point of you fancy a snack or drink with a view.
It was a great way to spend a sunny afternoon in Malaga.