So many people over the years have told us we have to see the Costa Del Sol in Spain. So, we added it to our agenda, but picked a lesser known city, Malaga. While still a bigger city with a decent amount of tourists it was supposed to have maintained its culture and not be overrun with big hotel chains and restaurants. This, if you don’t know by now, is the way we prefer to travel. While we are tourists we like to blend into a community as much as possible and experience as much of the local culture as we can. In Malaga we really felt this was not a problem despite its popularity.
The city didn’t disappoint at all! We stayed in an airbnb across the river from the historic center which was a perfect option, it was quiet but super close to everything. We spent the entire tour here on foot, which was amazing. The Costa Del Sol sky was an absolute perfect blue with a bright shining sun, and never a cloud in the sky. It rose around 7:00 am and set around 10:30 pm. It was amazing. The sunny days and nights electrify this vibrant city where there is a constant joyous energy from the locals. We fell immediately into the vibe and loved it.
The pedestrian streets in the historic center are paved in white granite circles or octagons. They practically glow under the intense sunny sky, creating an atmosphere we have never experienced before. It felt clean, vibrant and almost like a hotel in Las Vegas, as bad as that analogy sounds. It was just so perfect it seemed it had to be fake.
We spent a lot of time walking around the shops and streets of Malaga, taking naps during Siesta, drinking Sangria, wine or beer and staying out until midnight like the locals. It was a rough time…okay, it was a tremendous amount of fun. During dinner at night the streets would fill with people all drinking, smoking, eating and laughing. People would be playing music in the streets creating an atmosphere that is hard to find.
Malaga has an incredible car museum where we spent hours looking at cars from the early 1900’s through the 1960’s. There were cars which belonged to Kings, movie stars, and even presidents. With each car were designer outfits of the time so a little for me and a little for J. I can tell you it is one of the best auto museums we have ever visited. Definitely worth a few hours to see cars you will likely never see anywhere else in the world.
The beach and port area were not our favorite. While they have done a great job with the buildings in the port area it just felt empty and cold to us in contrast to the warm and vibrant historic center. We did ride the largest ferris wheel in Europe in Malaga. It was cool to see the city from that perspective and to enjoy the gorgeous sky contrasting against the white ferris wheel.
One night we were able to catch a flamenco concert outside of the ancient Roman theater. The three singers, one of whom is considered to be one of the best in the history of flamenco, were absolutely incredible. Their intensity was electrifying. Of course in true Spanish form everyone was seated in the portable seats with cocktail and cigarette in hand while the sky darkened and the dancers hit the stage. If you have never seen a flamenco concert. Do! The miraculous and intense movement of the dancers is truly a sight to behold. The crowd was mesmerized as they moved across the stage expressing the intensity of emotion of each song. (Of course the background of the ancient theater and the ancient castle didn’t hurt either!)
We did hike up to the Castle de Gibrafalor in Malaga which was kind of a letdown after the Alhambra in Granada. The views of the city were pretty cool from the top though, along with some of the details of their ancient gutter systems and architecture.
Eating here was tough being a vegetarian. Everything is fish, or some form of ham. So beware veggies and bring protein powder and learn to love Spanish omelettes (eggs & potatoes) and Patas Bravas. Definitely drink some Sangria and sit outside at one of the many restaurants, it is some of the best people watching around.
One of the locals described the atmosphere in Malaga much better than I can. She said that they live their lives outside. For that reason they are very social, very active and relaxed. She said the weather is almost always perfect giving them a vibrancy and warmth hard to find anywhere else in the world. We felt this the moment we stepped into the city. The friendly, open and energetic energy will be unforgettable for us.