Cruise ship frigate ferris wheel

Our visit to Ronda was to be the last big activity before leaving Fuengirola for Madrid in 2 days time but Trevor read in a newspaper that Malaga was the city on the Costa da Sol to visit. Thus, it was decided that we would go there for which I was rather pleased as I had not visited the city in 2002.

Cruise ship frigate ferris wheelMalaga harbour with the Trans Mediterranean Ferry, a  naval frigate and ferris wheel

We had now become ‘old hands’ at taking the short cut to the bus stop and then the bus to Fuengirola station. From there we took the Locale train right through to the city instead of getting off at the busiest stop, the main station.

Not having planned to visit Malaga I had not done my research on the city and so relied on the hope to find the Tourist Information Centre to give us ideas. We knew that, like so many European cities, there is an Old City which has been preserved and well maintained. Oh dear, the station was absolutely bare of any information either on the station platform or in the immediate outside vicinity. We saw an hotel about 20 metres away and decided to ask there. This also gave us an opportunity to use clean free toilets. I am OK with paying to use the ablution facilities if it is reasonable but 4 or 5 Euros (R80-R85) is just too much. Tip for those of us who are a bit older and need the ablutions more frequently – make an excuse to visit an hotel, restaurant, library or general store where they are generally clean and free or just 1 or 2 Euros.

The Concierge at the hotel was very helpful in his broken English telling us to turn right out of the hotel, cross 2 streets, turn right and keep walking and we would find it. Well it certainly was not that simple. The first street we came to was 4 lanes divided by a concrete island and it was under major construction. We had to walk down to a pedestrian crossing to get across the first 2 lanes and then walk back up to the main intersection to get across the other 2 lanes. Fortunately we did not have any luggage with us.

The next street was just the opposite, a narrow one way street as was the 3rd one. We turned right here and walked quite a distance finding nothing so asked someone else and this is where I got rather irritated with the Spanish women, in particular. Every one we asked about the Tourist Information replied, “non comprehendo” and went on their way very quickly. Until now there were 2 words I would be happy not to hear again for a long time – ‘You’re welcome’. Every person in Scandanavia and Europe to whom you say Thank you replies, you’re welcome and it gets to a stage where you don’t want to say thank you! Now there are 4 words I shall be happy not to hear in a long while!

We then met a mother and daughter who both knew exactly where we wanted to go but had completely different ideas on how to get there. As fast as the one was giving her instructions the other tried to give hers and then they would argue with each other. We tried to get away but mother just pulled me back. After a full 15 mins of this we followed them back to the intersection where there was construction and were told, by the daughter, to go down this street and we would see it on the left.

We walked all the way down this street coming to a beautiful market with lots of shouting and lovely smells but no Tourist Info Centre. From there we went down another small street from which the Council workers were finally taking down the non-Christmas Christmas decorations. Any SPCA would be thrilled with the displays of cats, dogs, rabbits etc. There was the odd star and candle but that was all. Suddenly we were on the beachfront, on a really beautiful promenade.

Christmas decorations being removedChristmas decorations finally being removed

We found a lovely park where we sat and ate our lunch before continuing our walk. Once again there were lots of restaurants but most were empty and one wonders if many of them break even let alone make a profit. On the promenade we were surprised to see Baobab trees in one area and then fountains of water which seemed to rise from holes in the street. Quite beautiful.

Fountain and beautiful treesFountain spouting from the ground

Unusual treesBaobab trees

This led us to the harbour where we saw the Trans Mediterranean Ferry, huge defence force battle ship and the biggest flock of gulls I have ever seen. I am sure it was even bigger than that which we saw in Saldanha Bay in 2000. It was an amazing sight. We turned the corner and, guess what!? there in front of us was a beautiful building with TOURIST INFORMATION written in big bold letters. It was set in beautiful park-like gardens and inside was also very attractive with lots of information.

While walking along the promenade at the harbour, we passed a most interesting building which looked like a large set of cubes of various colours. There was little indication of what it housed until we had walked all around to discover that it housed an exhibition centre. It was called The Centre Pompidou.

Centre Pompidou MalagaThe Centre Pompidou

We were told where to find the entrance to the Old City which was right next door and then how to get back to the station which was less than a km away. Being me, I always have to put in my little tuppence worth and said how difficult it had been to find them and the receptionist asked me to complete a form which would be given to the Council. I completed it and popped it into the box thinking that it was going into the Black Hole that all councils have but I was in for a big surprise. 2 weeks after returning home I received an e-mail from the Mayor of Malaga thanking us for visiting Malaga, apologising for our problems and that there is now an info board on the station platform and new signs from the station! Now that is service.

The Old City was probably one of the nicest that we had seen. The buildings and streets were spotless and everything about it just told you that the citizens of Malaga are very proud of it. One of the first things we did was cross a bridge over deep, wide canal which was officially the canalised Guadalmedina River but had no water at the time. It was filled with plenty of construction equipment. A sign on the bridge showed 2 names – Puente de Santo Domingo and Puente de los Alemanes, This bridge led directly to the Convent de Santo Domingo and at the side door were 2 elderly ladies dressed in black with lace collars. They seemed to controlling who went in or out of the Convent but when we tried to ask if we could enter they replied with just 2 words, ‘non comprehendo’ so we didn’t get to see the inside. Around the corner was the main entrance but it was well locked up.

bridge to Monastery Santa DomingoBridge to the Convent de Santo Monica

Entrance to the conventSide entrance to the Convent with the 2 ladies at the door

Besides the Convent there were a number of churches each with beautiful bell towers. Atop one of these toweres was a model sailing ship which reminded us of the Scandinavian churches which have model ships hanging from the ceiling to remind the people how much their lives have depended on the sea over the centuries.

Bell tower of churchA church bell tower stands high above other buildings

Malaga Cathedral

Entrance to Malaga Cathedral

Gothic bldgA Gothic building

As we wandered around the Old City we could see the remains of an old fortress and we soon discovered that there were also the ruins of a Roman Theatre built during the time of the Roman Occupation.

Original Roman TheatreThe original Roman Theatre

As we exited it we discovered that we were back at the market and the street with the animal lights and all we had to do to get to the station was go back up there and turn right and we were back in that main street which was under construction again. It was then that it dawned on us what the hotel Concierge meant by crossing 2 streets – cross the 2 sections of this main street! After a really frustrating but, in the end, fun day we arrived home safely.