Our train out of Barcelona was the earliest of our trip. We got to the station around 7:30 a.m. While we were figuring out where to go, I looked up and Jason was gone. He’d just gone a few feet away and didn’t realize I wasn’t following, but it was a terrifying thirty seconds. He said I looked devastated, which I believe considering I was trying to figure out how to find him in a country where I didn’t speak not one, but two of the local languages. (My worries were exaggerated, of course, because we both have cell phones and would have found each other and because enough people speak English in Spain that I’m sure I would have survived. Still, I did not like being without my buddy.)
We tried to buy two croissants for breakfast and ended up with four (darn!) because the coffee shop employee misunderstood Jason’s : as a , (as in, “We would like two croissants: one chocolate, one wheat” vs. “We would like two croissants, one chocolate, one wheat.” It worked out because our train ride was a little over six hours, so we didn’t mind the extra snacks.
From the second we got off the train I knew we would like Málaga. We decided to come here in the first place because it was one of the NYT 52 Places to Go in 2016 (first on the list: Mexico City. Check.) and looked beautiful. It is. Málaga is the southernmost major city in Europe and one of the oldest cities in the world with a 2,800 year history.
We were excited to be there.
This was the view from our hotel room. The guy who checked us in congratulated Jason on the baby (he may have congratulated me too, but probably using vocabulary I don’t know).
We unpacked and headed out to explore. First we hit the Alcazaba and Roman theater.
The Alcazaba is a very old fortress/castle that was apparently first used to spot and thwart pirates.
From the top, we got a great view of the Málagueta futbol stadium.
Per usual, Jason got some great pictures. Judging from the pamphlet not much of the fortress is original, but was rebuilt in the 1930s. (Probably after that pesky Spanish Civil War.)
After the Alcazaba we went to see the Roman Theater. It was cool.
It’s the Louvre! No, it is a viewing portal through which you can look down and see the very old remains of a fish-salting enterprise.
We wandered the downtown area, which reminded me of Puebla.
There’s a beautiful park that separates the waterfront from the center of town, and it is full of palm trees and tropical plants.
We walked down toward the lighthouse, past a bunch of beautiful boats.
Our wanderings also took us past the Centre Pompidou Málaga, which I thought was a great building.
Past the lighthouse, we found ourselves on the beach. The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful. This is also the closest we have ever been to Africa.
We had dinner at a little restaurant downtown, then stopped for gelato because there is nothing more relaxing than walking around a darling Spanish town eating dessert. On our way, we ran into the market, which we planned to visit in the morning. Many cruise ships stop in Málaga (yes, that is a cruise I would take), but we didn’t hear any American accents that first day.
To cap off our day, we took a spin on the largest itinerant ferris wheel in Europe, from which we had incredible view of the harbor, the city, and the Alcazaba.
Ferris wheel selfie
Miles walked: 7 miles.
This was the view from our hotel the next morning.
We had breakfast at Noviembre, a sweet little cafe by the Picasso museum. I went for the nutella crepes. We should have crepes more often. The highlight of our meal, though, was the (not pictured) fruit smoothies.
We started our day at the Museo Picasso Málaga. Picasso was born in here and his childhood home is now the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation. His family moved to Barcelona when he was young. He returned to Málaga when he was nineteen, but never came back again.
After visiting a pretty extensive Picasso museum just a few days earlier in Barcelona, we thought this one would pale in comparison. We were happily wrong. The Málaga museum is definitely smaller, but had a really well-curated collection. We are still not sick of Picasso.
In the basement of the museum you can see the Roman ruins upon which it is built, so that’s a fun bonus.
The best thing about Spain besides the food and the beautiful language and the art are these alleyways that lead to historic buildings.
After the museum, we hit the market. I was prepared for something like the market in Coyoacan, but this one smelled better. We picked up some bocadillos (little sandwiches) and some Málaga-style almonds (not sure what makes them Málaga-style, but they are incredible), and some clementines for a picnic.
We enjoyed our little lunch in the park.
Then we decided to go to Centre Pompidou.
As with many modern art museums, there was cool art (Frida Kahlo! Picasso!), weird art, and art that we just didn’t get. I’m glad we went.
Then we walked to the beach.
It was lovely. Pretty sure I am going to reflect on this day in the middle of our frigid DC winter.
We went back to the hotel for a bit where I had a nap while pretending to read. Then at 7:15, we headed out to Tapeo de Cervantes. We had read about this restaurant in the NYT and wanted to try it, but there are only six tables and they strongly recommend a reservation. We figured we’d see if they could squeeze us in by getting there right when dinner started at 7:30 p.m. (Spaniards eat so late!!) Our gamble paid off and they let us right in. To be sure, the place did fill up in the next few minutes.
This was the coat rack right above our table, which made me laugh. “I didn’t know their little hooves could do that.” This was not the most memorable aspect of our meal.
(Aside: our waiter thought Jason was Italian, which does make sense considering his heritage.) Tapeo de Cervantes did not disappoint: we had one of our best Spain meals here. We started off with a potato cake with smoked salmon and a ridiculously good sauce and chicken croquetas with pineapple relish. Then came the dish I ordered. I knew it was fried ham and cheese, which sounded great. What I did not realize (and what Jason didn’t tell me until we had finished it off and declared it delicious) was that the ham and cheese were wrapped in pig ear. Yep. Hope cartilage is good for Little Frosty. It really was good though. Our last two dishes were pork with french fries and caramelized vegetables, and tender, delicious venison. In lieu of another gelato stop we had chocolate and dulce de leche crepes. Me gusta comer a Tapeo de Cervantes.
We continued our tradition of an after dinner walk around the city, and stumbled upon a statue of Picasso. After spending so much time at his museums, he’s our buddy.
We also walked by the Roman theater and the Alcazaba, both of which are very pretty at night.
Oh, and here is the church that was right near our hotel.
Miles walked: 6.8 miles
In the morning we got up early so we could take in the views of Málaga one last time.
Oh, plus we wanted to get breakfast at Noviembre again. Delish.
With heavy hearts, we took a cab back to the train station and headed back to Madrid. This is how we feel about our trip coming to an end.
We got to Madrid around lunchtime and checked into our last hotel. We had a light lunch at a restaurant across the street from the Prado, then decided to visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum. We got there two hours before closing, so we allocated our time carefully and were able to see basically the entire permanent collection, literally finishing up the last room of the modern section at 7 p.m. on the dot. It was another great museum. We talked about hitting the Prado’s last hour (when it is free!) but decided instead to go get dinner at Txirimiri again.
This time we tried a caprese salad and squid ink croquetas, and returned to our favorites, the hamburger and solomilla. We also had some good grape juice with it that has a name I can’t remember.
We walked back toward the Plaza Mayor through the park, and Jason snapped a serene picture of the pond.
We had hoped to get another torrija, but apparently they really are just a Holy Week thing. Instead we picked up some cream puffs and ate them on a bench. The weather was great, and we just soaked in our last night in Madrid.
Miles walked: 8 miles
The next morning we headed to the airport first thing. Our first flight was just under eight hours. We hit pretty terrible turbulence as we were being served our afternoon snack. (I could get used to these trans-atlantic flights where they feed you.) I’m not sure if it was the pretzel sandwich I had just eaten or being pregnant or the bumpy ride or a combination, but I started to feel very sick. I had to stop watching Bridge of Spies before it ended (I’m just going to assume they make the prisoner swap) and sat back with my eyes closed until we were safely on the ground in Newark.
We made it through customs without any trouble (thank you, Jason, for taking care of all our paperwork!) and had four hours to kill in the airport…which turned into almost seven hours when our flight back to DC was delayed. Yes, we could have easily driven home in that time. Instead, we had some dinner, charged our phones, watched some of the Final Four, and sampled some of Maria Sharapova’s Sugarpova candy. Once our plane took off, we both slept all of the 45 minutes it took to get to Reagan. We made it home just before a huge wind/rainstorm. Considering it was 4 a.m. Madrid time, we were both exhausted, and very grateful to have General Conference the next day.
I’m so grateful we were able to take this trip together. It was a perfect last hurrah before our life changes dramatically in July, and I think we’ll both look back on it fondly. I sure love being with Jason.