Malaga – Day 1
We had an unforgettable stay in Malaga, Spain. We arrived in the beautiful city at the really nice Malaga Train Station. It has a mini mall inside with lots of places to shop and dine. We were greeted by our former (just in August) guests Matheo, Mathilde and Olivia (9), as they stood with an American flag we gave them.
It was 9:30 pm – we were hungry and tired after a long day of travel from Africa. It was dinner time in Spain so we all headed to dinner at the beachfront. We dined at one of the restaurants that grill fish in grills made out of boats (very typical of Malaga). We had some typical dishes – fried eggplant with honey, sardines (grilled and fried), calamari and they were drinking San Miguel beer. The kids were having a typical dish of fried eggs, meat and french fries. It was all delicious. Not good for the diet but nevertheless, delicious.
Our hosts flat is in the Capuchino district near the football stadium. In front is a nice park for the children to play. The historic area is about a 15-20 min walk, and a taxi ride to the beach only 4-5 Euro. It was a great spot to be away from all the tourists and really feel like a local. My friends don’t drive much – they bike or bus most places around town. If they need a car, they have parking below for their Mercedes SUV.
The flat (apartment in Europe), is a lovely modern 3-bedroom, 2-bath which they basically gave us while they stayed in their mother’s flat two doors down. Upstairs they had a fantastic terrace on which to dine or just enjoy a drink. It is the best part of the house!
Malaga – Day 2
We all went in their car for a lovely day trip to Ronda. It’s a little more than an hour and a must see. It’s an historic city and famous for having the oldest bullring in the world. They have a beautiful bridge with remarkable cliffs and views. We took a relaxing carriage ride through the narrow old streets for 25 Euro. It’s one of my favorite ways to see a small city and you can stop anytime to take photos. Our friends had never done it and really enjoyed it as well.
We came back to Malaga a different direction – through the WINDY mountain roads (and I mean windy) – seeing the beautiful mountain homes of Marbella and ending up in Porto Banus. It reminds me a lot of Annapolis. There are nice shops (nicer than Annapolis) with big name brands, cool tapas restaurants and BIG, fancy boats like back home.
We drove along the coast back to Malaga, seeing the pretty towns of the Costa del Sol. The king of Saudi Arabia has had a palace here for many years and they say it is one of his favorite places. I see why.
Malaga – Day 3
Ellie and I slept in then Mathi took us around to see some of the town. It’s a nice, safe walk into the historic area. There was a grocery store about a block from the house so Ellie and I went to buy a few things. If you’ve never been in a European grocery, you will be surprised to find that you must put one euro (almost a dollar) into the cart in order to use it. Then when you finish with your cart – you put it back and get your money back. The grocery is very similar to ours, not as big with so many choices, but knowing Spanish helps me to navigate the unchartered territory. Oh and don’t forget to weigh all your produce and label before you get to produce. I always forget that on my first trip back. I left with a full cart of some old favorites and a few new things for Ellie to try. My mouth was salivating and my stomach grumbling. 🙂
Lunch – usually about 3pm then a siesta. Many of the stores close during this time as well.
That evening Ellie and Olivia go to the playground and Ellie gets to walk her new friend, the dog Romeo. He is a little tiny terrier (I forget which kind) and it’s the cutest sight to see my 4-year old walk him.
Malaga – Day 4
Ellie and I took it easy, trying to catch up on sleep. Hard on a 4-year old and she is a trooper. This is her 17th country and counting. We did some homework on her learning apps like Reading Eggs and Always Ice Cream. My intent is to homeschool her and travel. I want to show people that you can travel with children and that you can make it affordable. She will have a world education – literally. She will never be biased, racist or narrow minded. She will be open to all things possible. I think that is one of the greatest gifts I can give her.
In the afternoon we go by car to get Olivia from the private French School she attends. We then go to the private swim club where they belong, Real Club Mediterraneo. I love it! It’s right on the port and beachfront with swimming pools (indoor and an outdoor saltwater), a gym, restaurant, sauna, jacuzzi, etc. When I get an apartment here I’m definitely joining! ;-). We ended our day with a lovely dinner on the terrace under the stars – perfect ending to a perfect day!
Malaga – Day 5
So nice not living like a tourist in a hotel here. It’s like slow eating. I get to really see what it’s like to be Spanish. I took Ellie to play on the playground – all the kids are in school so we have the place to ourselves, except one small boy. Ellie’s favorite is the zip line. I don’t know why it’s so popular here and we don’t have them on playgrounds in the U.S.
My friends watched Ellie so I could attend a Rotary meeting. I have been a Rotarian on and off for many years but had to quit because of traveling so much. I finally found a club – the Rotary Club of Lake Elsinore, CA – that has an Internet (E-Club) extension. If you’ve never heard of Rotary, check it out, www.Rotary.org. It’s the largest service organization in the world – they do things in the local community and all over the world. I love the camaraderie and the friendship the most – all good people, no matter what country. I had a great meeting, in Spanish of course. They had a really nice lunch. I thought it was sandwich and salad, but found out that was the first course ;-). Lunch (almuerzo) is the biggest meal of the day here. Several people exchanged cards with me and said to call if I needed anything. It’s so nice to have friends all over the world!
We had a nice evening walk through the town. Picasso was born here and there is now a foundation in his birthplace. They have old roman ruins that were found under the city and a glass walkway from which to view them. Climb to the castle for spectacular views of the city.
We took our friends for a ride on the Ferris wheel at the port. It offered great views from all sides and was only 7 Euro per person. They have a great garden with plants from all over the world next to the port where Ellie and Olivia played on the playground. The kids also played at the playgrounds in the sand along the port. Kids are kids, no matter what age. Despite the 5 year age difference, Ellie and Olivia bonded.
Malaga – Day 6
We went to Malagueta – a nice little beach right next to the port. It was only a 4 Euro taxi ride and was perfect for Ellie. They have all kinds of playground equipment, and of course, a zip line! Ellie loves the zip lines, she would zip all day if she could! The beach is not the best, but it’s nice. There are tons of cigarette butts that wash up on the shore – ashame really. The water is cool now but refreshing with the still warm (sometimes very warm – was 100 other day) weather. The other negative is the presence of jellyfish (medusas in Spanish) and from what I heard a terrible sting. I’m hesitant about taking Ellie further than the surf where she seems content anyway.
There are plenty of beachside bars to offer full menu service, just a cocktail or ice cream. There are also men walking around selling fresh mojitos. I accept the offer of a non-alcoholic one when I see how he makes them in a tent just beside me – with fresh mint and lots of ice. I am a little miffed when he asks for 5 euro. I should have said no but I like entrepreneurs. It was delicious.
The other thing I like here is the group of ladies walking up and down the beach offering massage. I managed to squeeze a quick one while watching Ellie play in the sand. Not the best but a nice reprieve from the stresses of travel.
Malaga – Day 7
My daughter and I relish in some more beach time while our friends are at work. They are both professors so they manage some early days and surprised us with lunch at a favorite spot. It’s called El Tintero Malaga and its right on the beach in Malaga. What makes it so special? Well, the waiters all walk around yelling out something – like fried squid or grilled anchovies (one of my new favorites) – and if you want what they have you wave and they give it to you. At the end of lunch they count up how many plates you have and that’s what you pay (per plate). You have to go just once to experience it. YUM! They say that customers used to hide plates in the sand to reduce their tab – there’s now cement all around.
Later on the husband watches the girls so Mathilde can take me out for a girls night. We don’t head out until 8:30 and by the time we get down to the historic area things are starting to get busy. We have an aperativo (drink and olives/nuts) at a popular Irish bar on the main square. I love the main square concept – great for people watching.For dinner she took us to a really good spot for local specialties – croquettes, more anchovies (good) and everything was delicious.
Malaga – Day 8
Our friends are off and spend the day with us. We have an easy breakfast at home, I prefer yogurt with some organic oats and my daughter found a favorite cereal of chocolate squares. We decide to go to beach close to home as Ellie might need a nap. We go to Malgueta to play in the sand, swim and soak up the sun. There is a restaurant – El Farro, where we have a delicious meal and enjoy views of the old lighthouse and the beach. It is not the best beach weather so we head home for a siesta.
Later on the girls all head downtown for girls night out. We wanted a carriage ride but found that they shut down at dusk. Boo hoo. Instead we head to the port where the kids ride the carousel and a few other rides for 10euro/5 rides. They like it. They even have a WIPE OUT moon bounce attraction for Olivia. We decide to eat there at a favorite of theirs – Hollywood. It’s kind of funny to me, lots of “American foods” but the kids love it with coloring, balloons and a kids menu. They had a pretty good flank steak and a California Salad. Kids rode a few more rides, then we headed back in a taxi. Long day!
Malaga – Day 9
We were all bushed and slept in. They have these metal shutter doors outside their windows so that you get total blackout – I love it!
We were going to take the train to Grenada, just the two of us, but our friends offered to drive us. It was a lovely ride through the mountains of Malaga. Olive trees were EVERYWHERE! I just wanted to go home and buy property and plant olive trees. Spain is the number one producer of olives and I love them! You can get them fresh at local markets and they are so delicious.
We arrived in Granada in about 80 minutes I think, in the comfort of a Mercedes SUV. There was no cafe car but the company was the best ;). I didn’t know that you can’t just go see the Alhambra – the most famous site in all of Grenada. There is a long wait for tickets, some told me months others said weeks. Either way we weren’t getting in so we settled for a cozy restaurant at the bottom with a nice view of the Alhambra. It was very nice weather, probably in the mid- high 70’s. In Grenada as in some other Spanish cities, if you buy a drink, you get free tapas. They bring enough free food for as many people are drinking, including the delicious grape juice I had. It was delicious, a little heavy, but delicious!
We walked the streets of Grenada and soaked up the Spanish sun. We found the little streets with the Jewish section of shops (very quaint little alleyways) and savored some local gelato (my fave is bosque de fruta). It was a very nice but next time I definitely want to visit the Alhambra.
We were all very tired by the end of the day. That’s one of the only downsides to travel. I’m going to need to rest after this vacation!
Malaga – Day 10
Our friends all had work and school so we headed to our favorite place Malagueta beach. They have nice chairs you can rent for only 4 euros a day. We had a nice lunch at a cafe on the beach then played in the surf for hours. We met a really nice family from Amsterdam and our kids played together for hours on the beach. We walked out to find a taxi to get back to the house but it proved difficult for a bit. They say it’s better to call one.
We got “home” just in time to go have one last meal with our friends. We ended up getting Telepizza, a pizza chain like Domino’s. I could have skipped the dinner but the kids had fun and we enjoyed our home exchange friends one last time.
Malaga – Day 11 Departure for Albacete/Chinchilla
We packed everything up and a very nice man from the Malaga Rotary Club came to take us to breakfast. We had churros – I don’t eat this “stuff at home” but I thought while in Spain… They were hot and delicious. If you don’t know churros, they are like long thick piped pastries fried and then sprinkled with sugar and you dip them in a thick dark chocolate drink. Our friend took us to the train and helped us into the station… so nice to have friends.