Magnificent, under-rated Málaga

Thursday, October 26, 2023

By The Spanish Fly

Málaga [Photo:]

Wow! We just spent three days in Málaga City and what a revelation!

OK, there are lots of roadworks and building sites in the centre of the city, which are a bit of a nuisance. But they will no doubt turn out to be a good thing in the longer term.

No, the area around Plaza de La Merced, just north of the Casco Antiguo, is a delight. There were lots of tourists, even in late October, and it was expensive to eat and drink, but, hey, shit happens – look at Ronda, where we live. During the day full of coachloads of tourists from all over the world, but early and late in the day, still a dream.

We found an affordable hotel near this central square, so everything was set for a relaxed couple of days.

Then, disaster struck - l realised I’d left my wallet behind, at home (I hope!) All I had on me was a little cash and no cards.

Rita to the rescue …..


Málaga for two

We went to Malaga for the monthly get-together of the Costa Press Club, of which I am a member. We opted to arrive a day early, on the Monday, to give ourselves a little off-season city break. After check-in at the Homeabout La Merced apartments and parking the car, we went out to investigate. We grabbed a drink at the emblematic El Pimpi before getting ourselves a bite to eat in a delightful little restaurant in a side street. Name of Santa Monica. A shared salad and a couple of tapas each did the trick.

Calamares [Photo: Paul Whitelock]

                                                                                                                Teryaki de atun [Photo: Paul Whitelock]


Then it was off for a wander around the Old Part before a short siesta back at our hotel.

In the evening, we went to the Trip Advisor-recommended El Cortijo de Pepe. We started off sitting on the terrace, but the waitress advised us to move inside when it started to rain.

We ate well: calamar relleno de cerdo, and two tapas to share. Delicious. Our waiter, Saul, a young man from Teba, not far from Ronda, was very friendly and talkative. A great end to the day.


The Port of Málaga

This down-on-its-luck former industrial port has recently had a make-over. Compare Barcelona, Bilbao, Bristol, Hamburg, Liverpool, London, Salford, Valencia. All have had tourism-boosting upgrades.

Within walking distance of our apartment, we spent a good hour in the morning wandering around the souvenir stalls, restaurants and boutiques, eyes on stalks at the prices!

We spotted a branch of one of our favourite café chains, Granier, and resolved to return for breakfast there on our last morning.


                            Málaga port [Photo: Paul Whitelock]

At the far end we landed on one of Málaga’s town beaches, La Malagueta. We had a pre-prandial beer in the eponymous chiringuito set on the beach, in order to rest our weary legs before heading back into town.

Later I had my hair cut. I’d been wearing it long for a year or so and had even grown a bit of a ponytail, but it was time for me to get it cut, so that’s what I did. Rita was delighted.

The Spanish Fly with hairdresser Lorena [Photos: selfies]


Picasso, son of Málaga

Members of the Costa Press Club and guests posing with Pablo Picasso [Photo: Karl Smallman]


Pablo Ruiz Picasso, born in the city in 1881, is arguably Málaga’s most famous son, although he lived most of his 80-something years in France.

He is the reason we were in Málaga. I’m a member of the Club de Prensa Costa del Sol, the Costa Press Club. This association of journalists, writers, and media folk from all over the world meets approximately once a month for an “activity” and a meal. The association celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022.

We move around for our meetings: Fuengirola, Málaga, Marbella, Mijas, Puerto Banus, and dine in a good restaurant each time. Before the meal we usually have a speaker on some topic related to our field of activity, but for the October 2023 meeting, we started off with a guided tour of the small Picasso Museum in Plaza de La Merced, 50 steps from his Casa Natal, his birth house, also a museum.

Entitled “La Imagen de Picasso”, this new exhibition focused on his relationship with the media, film, photography, books, newspapers, etc. With photographs, some never seen before, and film and documentary extracts, this was a fascinating insight into the life of one of Spain’s most popular and controversial artists.

A known womaniser, this tiny, but charismatic little man, was always in the news. His output was prolific and his body of work represents a number styles during different periods of his life. Some of his stuff was not to everyone’s taste, but his contribution to 20th Century art is undeniable.

My favourite is Guernica. I’ve seen the original and I had a great poster copy from when I was a student. When my first marriage broke up nearly 20 years ago, it disappeared. I re-discovered it years later on the wall of my daughter’s flat in London. She still has it.

But I unearthed a much smaller framed copy in a junk shop in Ronda a couple of years ago, and I’m happy with that.


Eme de Mariano

A short walk from the museum brought us to our restaurant in the Old Part.

We were 23 members and guests, and we had our own private area.

The meal was mainly a shared buffet of delights, including croquetas, ensaladilla rusa, salchichón, and tartare de atúnbut we had individual portions of gazpachuela and arroz con chistorra or arroz negro con pescado y mariscos. By the time the postre came we were well stuffed! All washed down with two glasses of wine, beer or un refresco, included in the price.

The staff were friendly, polite and efficient. The girls were beautiful, especially Rocío, my favourite.

In fact, we found all restaurant staff to be pleasant throughout our mini-break.

The walk back to the hotel was hard. Apart from having full stomachs, I was wearing brand new shoes. Silly boy!


Breakfast at Tiffany’s Granier

Granier is a chain of bakers-cum-cafés with great bread and brilliant breakfasts. Not cheap, but a nice treat from time to time.

We used to have a Granier in Ronda, but, inexplicably, it closed down. Down here on the coast, there are Graniers all over the place – Fuengirola, Los Boliches, Málaga, Marbella, San Pedro de Alcántara.

We chose the branch in the Port of Málaga, that we had discovered the previous day.

After checking out of the hotel, we walked there. It was busy, but no problem. We had a great breakfast, and a large cup of coffee for around 20€. Quite expensive, but delish!

Then we walked back to the hotel, picked up the car and hit the road back home to Ronda.



We had a great three days: explored the old part of Málaga a bit more; ate good food; enjoyed the new exhibition devoted to Picasso; and re-acquainted ourselves with other members of the Costa Press Club, among them a German, an Argentinian and sundry British folk. I was somewhat alarmed to find that I was the oldest man present. Fortunately, Rita was not the oldest lady.


© The Spanish Fly



All unacknowledged photos by The Spanish Fly



Casa Natal, Costa Press Club, Eme de Mariano, Fuengirola, Granier, Karl Smallman, Los Boliches, Málaga, Marbella, Mijas, Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Paul Whitelock, Picasso, Plaza de la Merced, San Pedro de Alcántara, Spanish Fly



PICASSO for free in Málaga

Monday, October 17, 2022

The Culture Vulture 

Pablo Picasso - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

Málaga City was the birthplace of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, one of the world’s most famous artists. He was born on 25 October 1881. He died at the age of 91 in Mougins, France on 8 April 1973.

There are two museums dedicated to this painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France.

Málaga also has the Carmen Thyssen Museum which is home to many great collections by famous artists. It also hosts visiting exhibitions, currently by Belgian artists including René Magritte. That lasts until 5 March 2023.

There is also the Pompidou Museum in the revitalised port.

The good thing about all of these places is that admission is not expensive; it’s even free on Sundays and some bank holidays.

The Culture Vulture and three friends recently spent a Sunday in this somewhat under-rated city. Here’s his report.


Did you know that you can visit two locations in Málaga dedicated to the Málaga-born artist Picasso free of charge? You can also visit the Carmen Thyssen Gallery without paying.

From 4.00 pm on Sundays entrance to Picasso’s Birth House and the Carmen Thyssen Museum is free for all. Entrance to the Picasso Museum is also not charged for the last two hours on Sundays.


Pablo Ruiz Picasso

One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Picasso is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and the anti-war painting Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of the Basque town Guernica by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso's work is often categorised into periods. While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1904–1906), the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also referred to as the Crystal period.

Much of Picasso's work of the late 1910s and early 1920s is in a neoclassical style, and his work in the mid-1920s often has characteristics of Surrealism. His later work often combines elements of his earlier styles.

Exceptionally prolific throughout the course of his long life, Picasso achieved universal renown and immense fortune for his revolutionary artistic accomplishments, and became one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art.

In the early 1900s, he moved between France and Spain before finally settling in Paris in 1904. He was never to return to Spain, since he was ideologically and politically opposed to General Franco and after the dictator’s death in 1975, it never happened.


Culture for free

On our recent cultural day, we decided in the end that the Picasso Museum would be too much and planned to do his Birth House (Casa Natal) and the Belgian Artists at the Carmen Thyssen.

We arrived 15 minutes early for free entry to Picasso’s Birth House in Plaza de la Merced, so we had time for a drink and a tapa. We chose the most authentic Spanish-looking bar and sat on its terrace for around 30 minutes. Out of interest the prices were about double what we would pay up in the mountains around Ronda.

We enjoyed our visit to Picasso’s Birth House. There were a large number of never-before-seen works by him along with photos, furniture, artefacts and explanatory texts in both Spanish and English.

It was very impressive and well worth the admittance charge of 0 euros.

We then set off on foot to the Carmen Thyssen. It was hot and sticky and the old part was choc-a-bloc with tourists.

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When we got there the queue was massive. Bad timing; the Belgian Art Exhibition was new and so everybody wanted to be the first to see it. We decided to forgo the experience and consoled ourselves in the adjacent museum shop. They had some nice stuff. I particularly liked some cushions depicting designs by Magritte, but as they cost 45€ each, I decided not to bother. By the way similar cushions, showing Picasso images in the Picasso shop, cost an eye-watering 95€!


Other free stuff

We decided to amble back through the Casco Antiguo past the Cathedral and the Roman Amphitheatre, both free to view.

We popped into Málaga’s most famous old bar, El Pimpi, and admired the décor. We felt lucky to find a free table outside but after waiting for 20 minutes without a waiter coming near us, we decided to move on and found a lovely little place tucked away up a side street in the shadow of the Alcazaba. Cleverly named Alcasabar, we enjoyed a drink and a couple of tapas each. Just 70€ including tip. Blimey! El Pimpi would probably have cost even more!

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Then it was back to our hotel in Torremolinos for a farewell drink with our two guests before retiring to bed and before their taxi to the airport came at 5.00 am!

Although the day did not turn out quite as we planned, we still had a fabulous time, largely for free. What we saved on admission charges we spent on food and car parking, however.

We’ll be back before long to see if the queue at the Carmen Thyssen is any shorter.

© The Culture Vulture

Further reading:

Tags: Alcasabar, Alcazaba, Belgian Art Exhibition, Carmen Thyssen, Carmen Thyssen Museum, Casco Antiguo, Cathedral, Culture Vulture, El Pimpi, Franco, Guernica, Magritte, Malaga, Pablo Picasso, Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Picasso, Picasso’s Birth House, Plaza de la Merced, Roman Amphitheatre, secretserrania, Spanish Civil War, tapas, Torremolinos,