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Malaga and Marbella, Spain (part i)

 Within minutes of exiting the taxi, we began hearing the sounds of music, happy cheers, and excitable murmurs around us. Serendipitously, we had arrived on the Malaga city fair called Feria de Malaga (which takes place the third week of August) and were more than happy to join in! It only took us a few more minutes to walk into the heart of the old town, drop our suitcases off and settled into a snug streetside table to drink a glass of the sweet local Cartojal Wine. Malaga is located in southern Spain in the autonomous community of Andalusia and is known for being Pablo Picasso’s birthplace.  It is a charming city on the coast Alboran Sea and vibrant Plaza de la Marina. Jump into a play-by-play of several days spent in Malaga and Marbella, Spain. This itinerary is a segment of a series of  Spain travel: Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Day 1 (Malaga)
Lodging: Feel Hostels City Center, Malaga 
The beautiful Malaga cathedral was just a few minutes away and the image of the sun setting on this construction was breathtaking.
 
Spain has an impressive collection of tasteful street art and graffiti styles.
After a long day of exploring, we rounded out the evening with seafood, tapas, and cervezas (beers).
 

Day 2 (Malaga / Marbella)

 Lodging: Momma Le’s timeshare condo in Marbella (thank you!) 
Exploring Malaga is so easy. There are just so many tiny alleyways to go down, tapas eateries to pique your interest and vibrant shades of flowers worn in the hair of many beautiful people. I was delighted to find such a juxtaposition of historic buildings and sites mixed with modern culture.
I stumbled upon a lovely farmers market and stopped in to marvel at the assortment of meat, fresh seafood, vibrant vegetables. This beautiful painted glass mural inside of the Mercado Central de Atarazanas.
Mind-boggling gelato options at the Plaza de la Marina. There was even a Facebook-flavored gelato…I wonder what that tasted like.

 

We met up with our friend Allen, and proceeded to tapas (where we were first introduced to patatas bravas), enjoyed gelato at the harbor, and visited Alcazaba, a citadel built by the Hammudid dynasty in the 11th century.  The fortress is very well preserved and worth visiting if you have an extra hour or two in Malaga. 
Ancient script carved in stone in Alcazaba, Malaga.
I had spent some time researching various ways to get from Malaga to Marbella and was astounded to find that traditional taxi fares or bus rides were quite expensive. With a small leap of faith and a lot of trust in a friend’s suggestion, I tried using a European ridesharing service called BlaBlaCar.  A few days before, I had pre-arranged three rides with a local driver who was going home on his normal commute. We had a good time using google translate to carry a nice conversation during the ride and paid only €6 each to get dropped off directly in front of our destination.
 After checking into our place in Marbella, we headed directly to the closest grocery store to load up on snacks. I was delighted to find pâté and cheese ran for €2 or less, which is a huge bargain considering pâté in the states typically costs $8-$10.
 
 

Day 3 (Marbella)

 Lodging: Momma Le’s timeshare condo in Marbella
Marbella has an interesting mix of historical sites, including a 1st-century small Roman bridge, citadels, and Alcazabas during the Middle Ages, and large offering of festivals (reggae music, film, and contemporary art to name a few). The Mediterranean Sea stretches along, accompanied with soft, sandy beaches making it all too easy to unfurl a beach towel and take a siesta for the better part of your afternoon. Marbella is also known as a resort town with many high-end and luxury shops, accommodations, and designer cars purring down the roads.
 

Day 4 (Marbella)

 Lodging: Momma Le’s timeshare condo in Marbella
 

Old quarter (also known as Casco Antiguo) captures a special moment in time; virtually unchanged, using the same layout as in the 16th century. Maps with historical points of interest can be found in the tourist office or displayed throughout the area. As you make your way around (by foot is best), duck into any eatery that catches your interest, explore shops through the narrow and winding streets and get a great gluteal exercise on the inclines and dips. One could easily spend half of day in Casco Antiguo, so allow yourself enough time to take in the experience. Add another layer of interest by changing up your mode of transportation! I took a bus there and rode the Sky Blue ferry back to Puerto (port) Banus with my feet kicked up, wind in my hair, sunglasses on, and a gorgeous display of blue waters and mountains in front of me.

Benny Benassi is one of my favorite DJs of all time! I’ve been lucky to have seen him perform in California and Spain at the Olivia Valere club in Marbella.

That evening, a few of us decided to go see DJ Benny Benassi at the nightclub, Olivia Valere (high-end club complete with canopy beds and lounge seating) for a spendy €70 (good thing we were saving loads of money eating bread, cheese, and pate as snacks).  A stinging cost, but a priceless night of fun.

Day 5 (Marbella) 

 Lodging: Momma Le’s timeshare condo in Marbella
We spent our final day in Marbella enjoying the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea and soaking up the lavish Spanish sun poolside. A final visit to Casco Antiguo led us to a lovely meal at Il Cantuccio, an Italian restaurant owned by a kind German woman named Brigitta. This was a marvelous way to celebrate our lazy days spent in Marbella.

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Frugal Transportation: Bla Bla Car 
Dine: Il Cantuccio, Marbella
Boogie: Olivia Valere, Marbella
Explore: Old quarter (also known as Casco Antiguo)

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