We went back into Malaga today to visit the Alcazaba. This is connected to the Gibralfaro, which sits above it on the hill. The lower part of the Alcazaba is a military fortress, and soldiers resided in the Gibralfaro up the hill. We had originally intended to visit both on the same day, but by the time we finished with the Gibralfaro and descended the hill, we realized it was a late and that we were tired, so we put it off, and that was a good decision. There was a lot to see in the Alcazaba, and we spent a couple of hours there. Fortunately, the uphill part comes in the beginning.
As you enter, there is a Roman Amphitheater that is excavated just outside. As mentioned previously, there were 5 major cultures that inhabited this area, and all have left their mark. They are the Carthaginians (referred to here as Phoenicians), the Romans, the Visigoths, the Muslims, and the Spanish Catholics. Since the best places for harbors and fortifications are obvious to all of them, it is not surprising to find that they build on top of each other. As you go up, you transition from the fortifications to the Residences of the Nasrid dynasty of Muslims. Brick walls give way to gardens, then to decorated rooms with beautiful arch entrances. In some of the rooms you can see the fruits of excavations, principally pottery. The Muslim decorations only have text (Koran quotes, mostly) or geometric designs. The Muslims did not depict human figures at all.
When we were done, we descended and walked around for a bit looking for a restaurant, and found one right by the Cathedral, where I ordered a Gazpacho and an order of Iberian Ham, and Cheryl had coffee while eating her lunch. It was a lovely little restaurant, and now I have had Gazpacho in three different places, and it was different each time. I’m going to try to keep this up.
Following our luncheon, we went into the Cathedral. It is literally immense, and I was not at all surprised to discover that it is not even finished, though you wouldn’t be able to tell that from looking. It is a big square, and chapels all around the outside walls. In the middle is the main alter, and the Choir, flanked by the pipes of the organ. In contrast to the Muslim buildings, every where you look there are pictures or statues of saints, biblical scenes, and so on. After touring the inside we went outside to view the outer facade. It is so big you have trouble getting perspective, so Cheryl kept moving me around to put me in the pictures she took, just to get a sense of the size.
On our way back, I stopped at a roadside gas station to fill the tank, and we had a bit of a scare. After filling the tank and paying the bill, I could not turn the key in the ignition. It was locked solid, and I had no idea what to do. We were beginning to think we might need to call someone when a woman in the next lane came over, motioned to me to get out, sat in the driver’s seat, and by hitting, pushing, and possibly through magical incantations started the car for us. I just hope this doesn’t happen again, though I have no idea how it happened this time, so I don’t even know what to avoid.
Back into Malaga again, this time for the Museo Carmen Thyssen, which had a selection of Spanish paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries, primarily, which we really enjoyed. It was not a terribly large museum, so we got through it in under 2 hours. In addition to the paintings, they had a temporary exhibit of photography from two Argentinian photographers, called Fervour Buenos Aires, but we were not as interested in the photographs and breezed through that gallery in only 15 minutes or so. By noon, we were back in the plaza behind the Cathedral, where we had to wait a bit for our preferred restaurant to open for business, but the wait was worth it. I had yet another Gazpacho, and again it was different, as well as some smoked salmon and Spanish Olives. Cheryl had grilled vegetables and shared some of her excess with me, and they were delicious as well. Although we have a several more days in Spain, this was our last day in the city of Malaga, and it was a lovely day indeed. After lunch we strolled back to our car, and returned to our apartment in Mijas.
Our activity today is in the afternoon/evening, so we spent a relaxed morning in the apartment. Then around 3:30 we set out for Torremolinos, where we took in the Horse and Flamenco Show offered by Ritmo a Caballo & Andalusian Night. We got to the first part, the horse show, early so that we could do a pre-show visit to the stables and see the horses close up. Then we went into the show. It was a display and Andalusian horses and riders, with some very nice equitation. We thoroughly enjoyed this, then it was off to the restaurant about 5 minutes away, where we had dinner followed by the Flamenco show. A man and a woman danced, accompanied by a guitarist and a singer, and this was also a great show. One of our table companions was brought up on stage to dance with the male dancer, and she seemed to be enjoying it. By 10pm it was over and we drove back to the apartment.
We had arranged to take a Free Walking Tour of Marbella, where free translated to generous gratuity accepted. But we waited 15 minutes past the assigned meeting time and saw no one, so we walked down to the beach, and found that our route took us by many copies of statues by Salvador Dali. So not a total loss. We checked out the beach, then got our car and drove back to our apartment. We are both at the point where we are done with the trip and would like to be home, but we have one more day here before we go home.
Our last day in Spain, and we have nothing particular planned. We have to pack and clean out the apartment, but otherwise we are taking it easy. We went for one last walk along the beach here, where the water is warmer than it is in the Atlantic, but of course here it is the Mediterranean. We walked along a very long boardwalk, and on the way back stopped at a beach-side restaurant where I had my last gazpacho in Spain. We have to leave here at 3am to return the car and get to the airport, so an early bedtime is indicated, and thus we went to bed at 8pm.
Up at 1am to shower, have breakfast, then off to return the car. We went to a parking garage next door to the Enterprise office, where they obviously had made an arrangement, and dropped the car off. Then the person on overnight duty there drove us to the airport. We had a 6am flight to Paris on Air France, which left on schedule. In Paris, we had to go through Passport Control, and the line was long and slow. I think we must have stood in line for 45 minutes just to get cleared to go to our connecting flight, but we had enough time. When we got to our embarkation gate, the flight was already boarding, but we got through, and took a bus to our plane where we had to walk up a flight of stairs to get into the plane. Then it as an 8 hour flight to Detroit. We cleared customs quickly with our Global Entry status, and Jo picked us up.
We were both very happy to be home. In hindsight, we could have skipped the last two days in Mijas and probably have been happier for it, but of course we had flight reservations that kept us there. Somehow, it is always exciting to leave on a trip, and by the end, we just want to be home and sleep in our own bed. In this case, that is literally true as the beds in our apartment were hard as a rock and we woke up sore every day from it.