Friday, July 29, 2016

On to Málaga

Málaga, similar to Cádiz, is part of the Andalusian region of Spain and is also the capital of a province with the same name.  Málaga is the southernmost large city in Europe and is on the Mediterranean, the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar (through which we sailed overnight) from Cádiz.  It sits on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun), with a classic Mediterranean climate of hot summers and one of the warmest winters in Europe.

Málaga competes with Seville for the role of Capital of the Costa del Sol and now stands out with an incredible pedestrian center; great restaurants, hotels, museums, and beaches; beautiful landscapes; and fabulous views.  Also the birthplace of Picasso with his works featured in the Museo Picasso Málaga, which opened in 2003.  Now, with about 570,000 people, Málaga has been a major tourist destination since the 1950s.

We exit the ship into the modern port and start our entrance into the city at the busy Plaza de la Marina on the edge of the old town and just off the port.

Modern port facilities

Tourist map

Plaza de la Marina

Narrow streets branch off the plaza, with museums, shops (Laura and Jennifer bought shoes and a dress), restaurants, cafes, and plenty to explore in this modern city.

Walking streets off the plaza

  Jamón (ham) shop

The streets emerge into plazas, where we find new sites and places to explore down every path.

 Great plazas with varied themes

Málaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, then, similar to Cádiz, ruled by the Romans for over 300 years, during which time the port and Roman amphitheater were constructed.  Conquered by the Moors in the 8th century, Málaga then spent over 800 years under Islamic rule, returning to Christianity in 1487.  The historic center of the city, a short walk from the port, is an open-air museum with remains from Phoenician, Roman, Arabic, and Christian times.

Exiting the streets of the modern town, we follow a road winding up Mount Gibrallfaro, a 130 meter (425 foot) hill to Castillo de Gibralfaro, the ruins of a Moorish castle with sweeping views of the city and the sea.  This hill has been fortified since the 10th century BC and continued as a military base until 1925.  The remains of the ramparts of the castle are nestled in the pine trees and we enjoy the walk up/down and the expansive views from the top.

 Views on the way up to the castle

 Heading up to the castle

 Reaching the base of the ramparts

From the castle, we look down on La Rosaleda Stadium below us, a football (soccer) stadium since 1941, with capacity around 30,000 people.  Wow, the stadium is truly nestled in the buildings of the city.

La Roseleda Stadium

In contrast to the narrow streets of the city and the ruins of the castle above it, the port of Málaga, just below the castle, is modern, inviting, and bustling.  The port handles commercial traffic, cruise boats, and superyachts. The port reported traffic of 127 ships in April 2016 and has moved from principally importing to a current emphasis on exports.  Imports are typically food, agricultural, and cement products, while exports are principally wine, olive oil, fruits and nuts, and dolomite.  Passenger traffic is reported to be over 600 thousand passengers per year, roughly two thirds cruise boats (either starting, stopping, or passing through) and one third local coastal travelers.

 Sights and activities at/near the port

 From the far end of the port, we get a good view of our ship, the Wind Surf, the 310-passenger (210 crew) flagship of Windstar Cruises.  With five masts and seven sails, a fair amount of each trip is spent under sail, whenever the winds are favorable or helpful.

 Wind Surf

The port itself has a lot going on and we admire the varied and gastronomically-attractive menus outside the restaurants, but only stop for drinks before heading back to our ship and back out to sea.

 We try on our octopus outfits on the way out

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