Monday 19 June 2023

A Summer celebration at the cortijo

  After a very dry April the rains came in May and the beginning of June, the earth soaked up the water, everything fresh and green until the summer heat. Perfect weather for a party at the cortijo after a lazy day by the pool.

The terrace was looking pretty with all the pots in  blossom including the Gardenia with hundreds of buds and divine scent. 

The guests arrived while it was still light with that special luminous quality as we approach the longest day of the year. Gorgeous sunset and gradual nightfall as we settled in to some good chats and enjoying the food and wine while the stars appeared.  A perfect day!


Monday 20 February 2023

Málaga, first trip of the year


It's been busy, busy at the finca with lots of admin., reservations and preparing the houses, in much need of a short solo break. Decided on Málaga as I had never been and it seemed to have what I look for in a city break, a rich history, plenty of ancient and contemporary art displayed in historical spaces or superb modern architecture, beautiful vistas and not too far away. A big plus was to stay by the sea for a while, a wonderful contrast to our beautiful Extremadura landscape.
So off at 07.00 in the morning by bus from Merida to Sevilla, arrive at 10.00, bus to Málaga arriving at 11.00 arriving at 13.40, time for lunch!
What fun arriving in an unknown city. I was lucky in my choice of accommodation, in a pedestrian street at the side of the cathedral, above view from my balcony accommodation

Right opposite was a traditional café/restaurant, El Jardin, it felt like nothing had changed much since its beginning in 1887, decor which had evolved and not been bought wholesale, a little faded, a little worn, felt welcoming with friendly service ,perfect for lunch outside on the terraça before the voyage of discovery.


Climbing up an endless 200 stone step spiral to the roof of the cathedral. Finally the reward of wide vistas of surrounding mountains, the sea beyond the marina and port, the ancient medieval streets and the avenues built in the 19th century lined with palm trees and ornate mansions, the highest hill with the Moorish Gibralfaro castle and further down the Alcazaba and Roman theatre.But the biggest surprise was the structure of the roof itself. After seeing the elaborately decorated domes inside the cathedral, here were the reverse images, the roofs of the domes built of simple red brick creating a fabulous sculptural landscape, stunning!

This was my first walk to really get a blast of sea air by walking into the marina area, past Malagueta beach and along the walk towards the lighthouse and beyond along the long pier to the Espigón fort. On the way passing mega yachts of vast size, all shiny and bright with helicopters on the upper decks. Lots of cafés, restaurants and shops along the water, also the Pompidou centre multi coloured glass cube.
The return walk was along the main avenida towards the old town, Avenida de Cervantes, lined with very grand mansions now used for banks, the town hall etc. The avenida has a marvellous collection of botanic specimen trees and shrubs brought back from exotic voyages of the past, look up and see flocks of green parakeets chattering in the palm fronds.

THE MUSEUM OF MALAGA- A treasure trove of objects which are part of the history of Malaga. A really delightful experience to explore this beautifully designed space which was once a tobacco factory, then a customs house and now after extensive remodelling a museum made up of the archaelogical collections of the 19th century, paintings, sculpture and antiquities. The thing I loved was the acres of solid wood flooring creaks just like the best old museums. The paintings and sculptures are all created by artists from Málaga.

A proud Priapus mosaic found in Roman villa outside the city

A model of the mosque which once stood at the site of cathedral

Figures sunbathing  - Elena Alvarea Láveron

An "oneiric" portrait of Fred Astaire......poor Fred!
And she has a heart - painting of 19th century autopsy with surgeon holding the girl's heart - Simonet

An impression of artist's studio in 19th century containing the props used in historical paintings.

El Abuelo- Rafael González Alvarado

A ceramic baptisimal font made by Mudejar potters using ancient Moorish techniques. This is a very rare example as soon after the re-conquest the Christians decided that these fonts were too pagan and only stone fonts were acceptable, leading to the destruction of these beautiful objects.

Corinthian helmet found near Málaga
The origin of the Altarazanas was in the 14th century when the important sea port of Mālaqa was still ruled by the Caliph of Granada.The Moors had been in possesion of a large part of Southern Spain, Al Andalus, since 711 but by the 13th century were beginning to lose control of lands further North to the Christian armies.
Atarazana means ship building yard in Arabic. At that time the sea came right up to the entrance of the yard, the huge horseshoe arch, the only part of the original building to survive until today. Some of the surrounding land had already been reclaimed from the sea but at the time of the Christian conquest in 1487 the building was still a ship making yard The new rulers, of what was now known as Málaga, converted the structure into a convent and successively, an armoury, a military hospital, a medical school. By the end of the 19th century the building been abandoned and fallen into ruins. The site was chosen as a perfect place for a new covered food market giving the food vendors a sheltered and safe place to set up their stalls rather than in the streets.

The architecture follows many large food markets in Europe at that time, using decorative iron and glass for the roof, brick walls with wooden louvres for ventilation. Thankfully the architect incorporated the magnificent Moorish white stone horseshoe arch which is still the entrance to this historical market.

Browsing around the stalls is a feast of colour and appreciation of the super fresh products from the sea and surrounding farms, wonderful aromas from the spice and herb stalls. Finally I stopped at one of the stalls serving delicious tapas, I chose some garlicky prawns with nutty brown bread and a glass of white wine from the Sierras de Málaga, deliciously complex and much dryer than the famous sweet Málaga wine made with Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes.


Paintings and objects covering all Picasso's styles from his childhood to shortly before his death in 1973
. Most of the exhibits were contributed by his family. It is not a truly representative collection, very selective according to what was available. Of course there are better collections and individual works of art in Madrid or other major cities but this was an interesting experience and very well exhibited in the impressive Palacio de Buenavista which was purpose converted to hold the collection.

There is a large collection of Picasso's wonky pots which I really don't like, clumsy and far away from the glorious creativity and imagination of the paintings. Although I liked this plate from 1953


One of the most carefully preserved and restored Alcazabas in Spain with extensive views over the sea and up to the castle, the Gibralfaro on a higher hill. It's a delightful labyrinth of ancient walls, towers, inner courtyard gardens, Moorish arches framing the views, steps and ramps made of pebbles and brick with intricate water channels, fountains and gushing springs.
The site was used by the Phonicians as a fortification in around 600 B.C. Then the Romans from 250 B.C. until the first century A.D., there is a Roman theatre on the western side of the hill which can be visited. The next significant development was the Moorish invasions during the 8th century and the gradual development of the castle and palace with the structures we see today finished by the 11th century.

Top tip is to start your walk from the top of the Alcazaba and make your way down, this way you get a better sense of the construction and it's great to exit onto the plaza next to the Roman theatre. This is achieved by getting the lift from below the Alcazaba on Calle Guillén Sotelo 1 .There is a long tunnel and then the lift which whizzes up to the entrance of Alcazaba where one is free to wander around the many different areas.


C. Granada, 62, 29015 Málaga

This is a great place set in a rambling building with various bars, dining rooms and patios allowing a choice of atmospheres and prices. I sat at the bar in La Bodega for a quick lunch before setting off to the bus station, very delicious tapas and a good discovery of a red wine from the Sierras de Malaga area, Pernales, which I will be ordering from the Bodegas Malaga Virgen.


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