This weekend, my friends and I traveled to Málaga. As the southernmost city in Spain, Málaga reminded me a lot of Florida–palm trees lined the streets, huge flocks of seagulls blacked out the sky, and the sea breeze practically yanked my Californian friends to the coast with one salty whiff (they missed the Pacific enough to run all the way down the pier to the beach). However, Málaga (originally the ancient Phoenician settlement of Malaka) has got about 2,300 years on the 16th-century Spanish territory of Florida.
Exploring the Alcazaba of Málaga, a palatial fort built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century, felt like falling through one of those pools in C.S. Lewis’s Wood between the Worlds.
One moment you’re buying postcards and slurping up gelato, and the next you’re climbing cobblestone steps that were laid a millennium ago. The Alcazaba is even more well-preserved than the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, which made for a surreal experience. I almost expected a medieval sultan to emerge from one of the many alcoves and find us trespassing.
After we toured the Alcazaba, my friends ran to the nearby beach. The water was chilly, but they had been ocean-deprived for so long that they didn’t care. So we spent the last full day of our “Galentine’s Day” weekend playing in the sand and taking beach pictures with our TCU flag. Even though my feet were freezing, the ocean breeze in my face was worth it.
The last tourist attraction we visited was the Museo Picasso Málaga. Pablo Picasso, the great 20th-century artist famous for co-founding the Cubist movement, was born in Málaga in 1881. The museum showcases rooms upon rooms of Picasso’s sketches, paintings, sculptures, and writings. The museum itself is a gorgeously renovated modern building (see below). You’d never guess that Roman and Phoenician ruins can be found in the basement!
One of the highlights of our trip was when the shopkeeper at a convenience store complimented our “beautiful English.” We’d definitely never heard that before! It’s odd to think about someone hearing my native language and thinking it sounds beautiful–the way we think Romance languages sound. I may or may not have teared up a little.
Málaga was a nice mini-vacation from Sevilla. It’s different enough that it felt like a relaxing getaway, but shares the same friendly Andalucían culture that characterizes southern Spain. If you’re ever in the area, make plans to stay at an Air B&B in this charming coastal city!