Sunday, January 1, 2017

A walk on the walls, an Arabian bath and dancing lights

Happy New Year!  2017 already - the years keep rolling by faster and faster.  I guess that's what happens when you get old(er)!!  Last night was a non event - I was in bed by 9:30.  I read for (quite) a while.  I must say my Kindle has been one of the best electronic items I have purchased.  It is with me all the time on this trip and it is so easy to pull out and read.  The only negative is that my public library does not have the Kindle reading program so I can't download books from there (never mind, I still prefer "real" books at home and I am sure I am the library's best customer - plus let's not talk about my book collection...and it's been culled numerous times...) and have to purchase them.  But I am diligent about getting books when they are "on sale" - and so many aren't available at my local library.  I do love the travel narratives that aren't available outside the Kindle format as well.  Today is another "rest day".  I am having way too many of these but I still can't shake this cold.  I guess "Her Majesty" and I share the same cold bug.  Anyway today I am not even planning to leave the apartment.  I have cheese, bread, yogurt, fruit and that's all I need.  I am tired of eating out anyway.  My knee was wobbly and painful today so trying to stay off of that as well so let's just say I am having a pyjama party for one - okay a yoga pants party! (with pj tops!)   I have a special incentive for resting as I am off to Seville for three nights tomorrow morning and I am so excited!

Anyway on to the blog post.  After a "rest day" on Wednesday as I was so tired from the trip to Ronda  I decided to "stay local" on Thursday December 29th and explore downtown Malaga.  In particular I wanted to visit the castle in order to view the city from up high.

A walk on the walls 

The Castillo de Gibralfaro was originally constructed in 929 AD on a former Phoenician enclosure and lighthouse which is where it got its name. Gibralfaro comes from..gebel-faro which translated from Greek and Arabic means "rock of the lighthouse".  It was enlarged at the beginning of the 14th century which is when the double walls were added which go down to the Alcazaba.  Yes there is a path that runs between the two that apparently takes about 20 minutes to traverse.  The path is steep and difficult apparently and according to Lonely Planet a favourite haunt of muggers.  Need I say that I took the bus (#35!) up.

The castle is now in ruins but I went up for the vantage point plus I love being in places where so much history has been made.  The battles, the love triangles, just lives it!  As at the Alcazaba there were machines to buy your tickets with a security guard to help out.  Honestly it would be better to actually employ somebody because it takes forever.  Nearly everyone needs assistance.  He asked me if I was a senior and I said "yes"...senior is 65 here so okay I lied.  One little part of me was offended that he actually thought I was 65 and I am always told I look so young but hey I got in for less than a euro so that works for me.

I walked on the walls a bit but didn't want to push walking up any more steps (which tend to  be quite high)  with the knee so was happy with the beautiful views that I did have.

I just missed the bus and there wasn't going to be another one for 40 minutes so I found a place to sit and drank water....ok remember how I mentioned earlier I like to take my Kindle everywhere with me.  Guess who didn't take that or her journal out that day and of course my phone is useless without wifi.  So there I sat and day dreamed for 40 minutes.  Ah well it's good to space out once in a while (once in a while...I've been a class A daydreamer since I was born!) isn't it?  When the bus finally came it was proceeded by not one but two of the double decker hop on hop off buses so to say it was a bit chaotic is putting it mildly.  I managed to get a seat this time and off we headed down the slopes to the centre of Malaga.

There are a long line of these kiosks along one side of the Pasio del Parque.  I hovered by a kiosk selling jewellry but I want to check out things in Seville before I swoop in for the kill!!

My first point of call was the Hammam Al Andalus which is an Arab baths facility that has opened up in Malaga in the last few years.  I had an appointment for 6 p.m. but wanted to ensure 1) I knew where the place was and 2) to see if I could get the appointment changed to 4 p.m.  I found it quite easily and was able to change my appointment.  Happily I set off to explore the surrounding area for the next 40 minutes or so and find myself an ice cream.  Yes I finally felt like some ice cream and indulged and got myself a double...a Malaga (rum and raisin) with orange on top.  Delicioso!!!  (no, I didn't take a picture)

The Arabian Baths

Soon it was time for my Arab bath.  I had booked the Al Andalus Ritual which included the bath, a massage and a traditional kessa scrub.

The building is in the old Arab quarter on the original site of a hammam and has been lovingly refurbished.  Wood and candles everywhere!  I was given plastic to put over my shoes so the wooden floors would not be damaged and told to wait.  A few minutes later a young woman came and instructed me to go downstairs to change into my swimsuit.  Lockers and a towel were provided with your entry.   I got all shy and opted to change in one of the toilets not realizing there were only two of them.  Oops...I got rather a glare from the lady waiting as I scurried out holding my clothes.  I stored my things and then started looking where to go next...a little girl pointed at the "exit" sign.  I'm doing well here. Another young woman guided me up to the showers and then when I got back told me my massage and Kessa would be first so I had to pick up a scent I wanted used. I chose Jasmine. Then I was led into a huge room with a few beds scattered around but I still felt completely private.   I was clutching my package of kleenex but let the masseuse take it from me. (mistake!)

Anyway first was the Kessa...I had seen pictures of it before so knew there were huge suds of soapy water put onto your body and then scrubbed with a special glove.  I kept my suit on and she just pulled the top down when I turned over to get at my back. I didn't have to get naked this time! That was a quite pleasant 15 minutes followed by a gentle relaxing 15 minute massage.  As I was laying on my stomach let's just say my nose let loose and I will spare you the gorey details - I had to motion to the masseuse to give me my kleenex quickly when the massage was over!

Then it was time for the baths.  There are cold, warm and hot baths.  I tried every one - okay I may have just gone up to my knees in the cold bath.  Both the warm and hot baths had beautiful ceilings..I remember sitting in the hot bath with my head back staring at what seemed to be stars in the ceiling. Beautiful!!!  Very relaxing. There were other people there of course but not too many.  Lovers together which was annoying as they climbed on top of each other in the bath - get a damn room!  Much more relaxing than either of my previous Turkish baths.  At 64 euros it was a splurge but I really haven't been spending a lot of money since I've been in Spain and I thought I would pamper myself. And I am glad I did!

I observed etiquette this time and changed by the lockers...hey I go to the Y now and do it all the time at home so not sure why I got shy all of a sudden.  The schedules are at two hour intervals so it was pretty crowded with all the women going into their lockers at the same time.  Thank goodness for short hair that just needs a quick comb to put it into place as I could not even get a look into the ten mirrors with all the prima donnas doing themselves up.  I hoped that I didn't look too revolting and headed out.

Dancing Lights 

Luckily I was in lots of time to see the light and music show.  I had seen the lights previously but hadn't realized there was a show at 6:20 every evening as well  (approximately..I learned that!) as well until Basma, the girl from Morocco here at the airbnb told me.  So I stood and waited with the rest of the crowd...

A brass band serenaded us and played such tunes as Mama Mia and the theme from Rocky so a few of us (no names) boogied a bit.  Finally the show began close to 6:30.  It was just three songs and the first one was my favourite by far..."Last Christmas I gave you my heart"...this version not sung by George Michael I realize but it was still bitter sweet. (yes, I like Wham!)

I gave up trying to upload it to You Tube and even the file itself as it was taking too long  but here are some of the photos..

By now I was getting hungry so finally found a restaurant and sat outside anticipating a good meal. Wrong...I was seated and promptly ignored.  The scourge of the solo female traveler...ah well I left and found a quieter place and ordered a Sangria and tapas...

Russian salad

Meatballs in tomato sauce (didn't realize they came with fries - there went the "no fries" rule until back in UK..I mean they were on my plate!)

Mushroom and Roquefort cheese croquettes

Chicken empanadas

When I got off the bus at "my stop" I finally walked a couple of blocks down the Malecon to get a photo of the Christmas tree which looks out towards Malaga harbour.  I've seen it close up during the day but not at night. It is possible to walk to the harbour (and central Malaga) along the malecon.

And that was my day!!

1 comment:

Marianne Barkman said...

You are going so many places I've never heard of ! I love your pictures but I hope you're not too worried about them. You should enjoy the sights without a camera pressed to your face. People who video everything drive me crazy !

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