We have arrived in Málaga, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Our hotel room has ocean views, and I have been here a few hours already and I have not tired of hearing the waves crashing on the beach below. It's quite choppy today, and even though the sun's not out, and the skies are grey, it is indeed a magnificent view.
I know what you're thinking... Flags? Why flags?
Well, Málaga is also the birthplace of Antonio Banderas. I always find the translation of Spanish names amusing. The literal translation of this gorgeous man's name is Tony Flags.
Julio Iglesias? Julio Iglesias = July Churches. Placido Domingo, the opera singer? His name's Peaceful Sunday. Penelope Cruz... Hmmm... well, if you called Penelope by her nickname, Pene, then a literal translation of her name would be Penis Cross.
Ok, I think I'll leave it there... I think you understand my point.
So, here we are, all geared up for the days ahead. We leave for Granada, and the Alhambra on Sunday. But, before then, we have so much Picasso to see... and the old Moorish ruins of mosques and the Roman amphitheatre in the heart of Málaga awaits.
Before we left Cordoba, we glimpsed the Mala Muerta - the story behind this edifice is interesting. Apparently, a Moorish Caliph went to war, and when he returned, he was told that his wife had been unfaithful. He then had his wife killed for her crime. But, later on, he found out that she had actually been faithful, and she was killed wrongly. So, as punishment to himself, and to grieve for the wife he loved so much, he built this tower, Mala Muerta (which means "woman mistakenly killed") locked himself in it, and died there of grief.
Good riddance, if you ask me...
Also, we went to visit the Medinat Al-Zahara - a caliphate palace, which was built under the mandate of Abd al-Rahmann III from 940 onwards. Of popular myth amongst Cordobans is that the medina was built by Abd al-Rahmann III as a declaration of his love for one of his concubines, al-Zahara. This is not true. I also found this myth difficult to digest when I learnt that this caliph had a harem consisting of over 600 concubines. What made al-Zahara so special? And if she was so special, why didn't she tell the caliph to be exclusive and abandon the other 599 concubines?
Regardless, the medinat was a fascinating visit. I could see the amazing history behind its construction. It was only discovered in the outskirts of Cordoba in 1918, and it is still undergoing archealogical digs as more and more is unearthed. The sad part is, above the medinat is a monastery which apparently ransacked the medinat much later for building materials for its own construction.
That seems to be a constant story in the South of Spain. Old Moorish architecture, mosques and Arab designs converted to cathedrals and images of Jesus and Mary when the Christians took over from the Muslim rule in Spain's history. Perhaps I'm biased, but I find the Arab caligraphy, archiecture and design far more interesting, beautiful and appealing. It saddens me to see how the Christians obliterated a lot of it in the name of God. In fact, we have made a pact not to see any more Christian buildings. Spain is FULL of churches, cathedrals and monasteries. We'd much rather see more art and Spanish culture in other places of interest. It sounds awful, but after you've seen one or two cathedrals, the rest all start to look the same, and you find yourself skimming over the bits you've seen before.
Now, we're located at a far cry from all that. We're by the beach, surounded by what I would call a huge tourist trap. LOL The shops along the beach are filled with what I've seen many times before... McDonald's, Burger King (Hungry Jacks for Aussies), Ben & Jerry's (ice-cream), shops selling sunnies, t-shirts and fridge magnets galore. I am happy to hear the ocean from my hotel room, but am eager to get back to Málaga's CBD, where all the history and culture is. I feel like I did when I visited Nice, in the south of France. All affluence and show, and no substance.
Not all is bad though... we've managed to find a decent paella down there by the beach. The best I've ever had in Spain thus far. I wonder if we'll find one better before returning to Australia?
Before I sign off... I must mention my tapas experience in Cordoba. We found a small tapas bar opposite the infamous Calleja de las Flores called Tapas 101. Tapas are amazing. Small pinches of food, each costing 2-Euro. One orders four or five pinches/tapas, and one feels quite full by the end of the courses.
One I has was Berenjenas con Miel (Aubergines with honey). At first, I was a little repelled by the concept of mixing the two flavours, but as always, I give new things a try, and if I don't like them, I never return to try again. These aubergines were divine! The best tapas I've ever had! Apparently, they're a favourite Cordoban recipe, and I could understand why. Yummmmm....
These were accompanied by Croquetas Bacalao (Cod Croquets), Cogillitos de Lechuga (Garlic Lettuce), sangria (of course), and finished with Arroz con Leche (Rice pudding). A gastronomic adventure... So glad I'm walking asround an awful lot, otherwise I'd definitely be returning to Australia wider than when I left it.
Ok... tomorrow, Picasso...
I wonder if Tony Flags will be floating around anywhere, paying a visit to the rellies? That'd be another kind of yummmm...
Hasta la vista, mis amigos!