No trepidation was involved in my latest adventure…a round trip with my daughter Ella, taking in Málaga, Seville and Jerez de la Frontera. We were disappointed that a pre-Christmas family gathering here in Cómpeta couldn’t after all take place, but as Ella had already booked her flight to Spain, we decided to make some discoveries and take in a slice of culture.
Ella’s feet hardly touched the ground (she didn’t even make it as far as our home), as David and I met her at the airport, booked into our hotel in Málaga city centre (Hotel Sur 70 euros for triple room plus covered parking at 13.50 euros per 24 hours), and immediately wandered out to introduce her to some new experiences.
We started off at the newly opened, and much hyped, food market Mercado Merced (which was rather underwhelming – but that could well have been due to the time of day we visited). An early evening glass of wine was calling to us so we stopped in one of the many bars surrounding the lovely Plaza de la Merced (famous as the birth place of Picasso and boasting a life-sized seated bronze statue of the artist that is constantly used as a prop for tourist photos).
We headed back to the centre, via the ever popular restaurant/bar El Pimpi for a selection of tapas, and were then lured into the bar ‘La Buena Sidra’ because the showmanship of the staff was irresistible. I am most definitely not a fan of dry cider but to see the bar tenders pouring the sidra from one hand extended as far as possible overhead to the glass held as low as possible in the other hand whilst looking straight ahead was worth the involuntary grimace my face pulled on drinking the golden liquid.
It was now time to meander the charismatic narrow streets to the impressive Plaza de la Constitución at the head of the delightful main shopping street Calle Marqués de Larios. This was always going to be the highlight of my visit to Málaga as it was the day that the Christmas lights were to be turned on (always the last Friday in November). Malaga’s illuminations are always spectacular, and 2015 is no exception. The streets were thronging with happy visitors of all ages out to enjoy the atmosphere and look up in awe at the millions of lights that herald the start of the Christmas season.
We wanted to take Ella to our favourite restaurant/tapas bar El Refectorium Catedral, the most stylish establishment with the most delicious tapas we have come across. It is so popular that during three visits we have not managed to be seated at a table (although of course we could have reserved in advance) but perching on a high stool at the bar, or even standing, is all part of the experience, and if you are only eating a tapa, quite manageable. The restaurant was so busy that we decided to come back later and meanwhile visited the roof terrace of the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio for some spectacular views over the cathedral, marina and alcazar – what a treat. It isn’t always possible to visit this rooftop as sometimes there will be a private party, as was the case on our last attempt, but on this occasion we were in luck and were rewarded with amazing scenery, excellent service and great tapas.
We wandered back around the corner to the Refectorium by which time there was just about room enough for us to squeeze in (but still not find a seat). But no matter, just drinking in the atmosphere of such a place makes a bit of discomfort totally acceptable (of course whilst also drinking in a glass or two of vino, which always makes life more comfortable!)
I’ve said it before (and no doubt I will say it again, and again) the Spanish know how to throw a party, and better still, they know how to enjoy it with great good humour and friendship. Thank you Málaga for such a great start to my trip.
Posts to follow for the Seville and Jerez.