Sunday 22nd May: Walking Tour day.
Our main activity for today was a 2 1/2 hour walking tour but this didn’t start until 11am and so we had a generous amount of time to fit in a morning walk. On waking we noticed that three huge cruise ships had docked overnight and previous experience taught us to expect huge crowds in town for the day at least. We walked out along the Pier where the ships were docked and noticed how clean and relatively new the whole waterfront precinct seemed to be. (I found out later on from our guide that it is only 6 years old). It was a lovely walk along the waterfront as the water is clean and filled with fish and the Pier is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants, all closed at this relatively early hour, but the place had a really nice vibe.
Our tour started at 11am from Constitution Plaza and our guide, Luis, was great as we found him to be intelligent, well informed, passionate about his job and witty. In fact, we think he was the best guide we’ve had for all of our tours so far. There were only about 12 in our group but that made it more pleasant. Luis started with an overview of the history of Malaga, however, this was a story we’d heard a number of times already by now: The Phoenicians (800 BC), followed by the Romans, then the Visigoths, the Moors and finally the Christian Re-Conquest (1487).
Luis offered numerous interesting anecdotes along the way and one example was an explanation of why the Visigoths were called ‘Barbarians’. Apparently, it was because the Romans couldn’t understand the Visigoth language and, to their ears at least, it sounded like they were saying ‘bar, bar, bar’ and, hence, they were called the ‘Barbarians’. Also, the name ‘marmalade’ derives from Spain when the French sought help from the Spanish as to why Spanish Sailors were able to avoid the seasickness know more commonly as ‘scurvy’. The Spanish diet included consuming preserved oranges and they explained this to the French as the benefit by using the Spanish terms ‘Mar’ for ‘by the sea’ and ‘maladie’ for ‘sickness’. Hence this preserve or jam became known as ‘ marmalade’. Neat huh?? There were lots of other examples too and this all contributed to the tour being both informative and fun.
The tour finished at 2.30 so Mark and I departed the group and headed to El Pimpi for lunch. We had stopped off there along the way of our tour and sampled some of their very fine sweet Malaga Muscat. El Pimpi is a popular and very busy restaurant that looks across the Roman Theater. The rather unfortunate name dates back to a previous century and British period when Spanish locals would source women for the British sailors with the place even once being a brothel! It’s nothing of the sort today but, rather, a huge and sprawling restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s not just a tourist haunt though as it is apparently frequented, at times, by no less than the likes of Antonia Banderas and Placido Domingo and is also a very popular late night spot late for local youths before they go clubbing.
Our guide, Luis, had advised us that many tourist attractions are free later in the day on a Sunday. This suited us rather nicely and so after lunch we visited the 11th Century Alcazabar, a Moorish Palace fortification. This was worth the visit but, not surprisingly, was nowhere near as impressive as Granada’s Alhambra. It was 4pm by this time we finished at the Alcazabar so we headed back to our Hotel to rest up before heading back out to visit the Malaga Cathedral and Picasso Museum.
The Picasso Museum holds many pieces and most of these are from his Blue and Cubist period. The Iglesia de San Agustin is right next door to this Museum, which is rather fitting as this is where Picasso was baptized. This had previously been a Mosque, but again, was converted to a Church during the Christian Re-Conquest. Mark was excited to find a craft beer pub right opposite San Agustin so guess where we stopped next?
Choosing somewhere to have dinner proved to be a bit harder given many places were closed for the Sunday. We went back to El Pimpi for dinner but, whilst busy and entertaining, the meal was rather ordinary. We searched out the Bodega from last night but it was closed for the Sunday as well and so chose another Bodega to have a nightcap before heading home for a relatively early night.