Last stop before Southampton, we had been thinking after the Panama Canal, New Zealand, Australia, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Luxor, Crete, Malta, and a few places I’ve forgotten about, Málaga is a place to stop to break up a string of sea days. Our British friends viewed it as a convenient, cheap, somewhat tacky place for a winter holiday package tour. We and they were wrong; it’s more than just another resort town.
While it is that, it has much more to offer and is worth more than a day.
The beaches are fine, just not the world-class, white-sand beaches, ringed by coral reefs that we’ve become accustomed to. Anywhere in the US would be happy to have these beaches, next to their downtowns. The temperature was about 70°F; we didn’t go to the beach.
The location on la Costa el Sol would be a good place for a winter break and a good home base for exploring southern Spain, Morocco, Portugal. There are many inviting places close enough to be good side trips of one (or two) days: e.g., Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Ronda to start with; all within about an hour and a half. Gibraltar is about 100 km and Africa about 80 miles. We didn’t go to any of those.
Málaga is a very old port city; one of the oldest in the world. It was founded by the Phoenicians almost 3000 years ago. It was part of the Roman Empire and Roman Republic for a few hundred years. With the Moors, it was under Islamic rule for 800 years until ‘liberated’ by the Army of the Catholic Church at the end of the 15th Century. Everyone left forts, castles, mosques, fountains, plazas, temples, and cathedrals to be visited and photographed. The city has been described as an “open museum” of archeology. We didn’t get to many of those.
This was the birthplace of Antonio Banderas and Solomon Ibn Gabirol (the Hebrew poet). But that’s not what we did.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was also born here. The house where he was born and grew up is now a museum, with some of his work but more of his contemporaries and friends. Picasso was a lifelong fan of bullfighting and some of his best friends were famous matadors. He saw bullfighting as some sort of metaphor for life and that is reflected in much of his work.
It often interesting to see the setting where accomplished people sent their childhoods. While his house is no longer a house, the plaza in front across the street has changed very little. Kids still play soccer and tag and skin knees. Pablo himself seems to still inhabit the space.
Just down the street and around the corner, past several sidewalk cafes and shops with anything you need (except AAAA batteries), there is a full fledged Picasso Museum that is almost exclusively his work. But then he spent 80 years painting and some of them didn’t take him very long. Of course, photographs weren’t allowed.
There was a fascinating video of the man painting bulls, birds, flowers, and of course, women with two or three strokes of the brush. The work he did as a teenager was primarily very realistic portraits of family members. There is no doubt about his skill and technique as a painter. He didn’t develop Cubism until his late 20’s. His basic view was nature and art are not the same thing so can never express the same thing. If you want a photograph, use a camera.
The Picasso museums, a quick look at one castle, and a little wandering of the narrow, meandering streets of an old European city were all that we could fit in.
This is another place we need to come back to.