Day 20: Malaga - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 26, 2024

Day 20: Malaga

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The weather gave a demonstration today of what it means to "double down". Rather than give up on high winds, it added rain.  This caused all us tourists to borrow umbrellas from the hotel, but they were only marginally useful because they threatened to collapse in the still gusting wind. It was all way better than being up on the cliff sides trying to cycle, so we were content. Before long the sun did come out, and contributed to one of the most pleasant days we can remember in a long time. It was not just the weather, but the chance to wander about our top pick things to see in Malaga, which is a really super place. Our first stop was to be the Cathedral, but it was closed until 10, so we substituted the market. Then it was back to the Cathedral, on to the Alcazaba, then to a restaurant in the  Bishop's Plaza in front of the Cathedral, and then to the park. It was just one form of peace and beauty after another.

The market is Mercado de Ataraznas, or Shipyards Market. It is so named because in the 14th century it really was a shipyard. When the Christians took over in 1487 it became a convent, and then a military storage facility, a hospital, and a medical school. It has only actually been a market since 1868, making it a fairly new feature of town!

The market building is handsome, still with the Arabic touch.
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See the arches and designs.
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The first thing we hit, inside the market, was the fresh juice from many fruits. In a tropical zone, this is some of the best and most exciting stuff one can find.  If you are short on power, we have found one glass of any of these produces at least two hours of energy.

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We had just come from a legitimate ten jammer breakfast, and had all the power we needed. But in walking around the market we were looking for two things: things that were unusual to us, as visitors from the north, and beautiful colours and shapes of products on offer. Let's see what we found:

There was a lot to look at, in many aisles.
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Dragon fruit can sometimes be found at our place, but not the choice of red or white.
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These strawberries are not only colourful, but unusually long.
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A beautiful cornucopia!
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Dried fruits, nuts, and gummies are a big feature at this market. The gummies may not be naturally flavoured or coloured, but they look and taste great!
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This now is real natural candy,
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We feel sort of smug when we see the Spanish using the "wrong" word for something, where wrong means not the Mexican word. As everyone knows, "Flor de Hibisco" is "Jamaica". We also noticed Pomelo for sale, which is clearly Toronja.
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There are a number of varieties of dark heritage Beefsteak tomatoes. "Indigo Blue Beauty" is a possibility.
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Spices always put on a show of colour shades.
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These cherries attracted my attention because they were so big. But now I also notice the price. If the sign means 5 euros per 1/4 kilo, that's 9 euros or about $Can 13 per pound. Yikes.
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Never seen this before.
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Jacquie GaudetThey don’t look appetizing to me. I’m hoping we don’t miss strawberry season in France because we will miss it in BC.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretTo Jacquie GaudetThese “pine berries” or “pink berry” strawberries were new in 2023 here in Santa Cruz. They had a too mild flavor and too high of a price for my “tastes”…
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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Karen PoretI'm not a fan of California strawberries because the ones we get here are often white inside--and tasteless. With strawberries, local is best because the ones grown to ship exchange taste for durability.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Jacquie GaudetThey do look like unripe berries, or maybe the inside of a California strawberry. Give us red through and through every time.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretAgreed it is! Local and farmers market strawberries ( anywhere) are the best selections!
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1 month ago
A lady at the fish end of the market.
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The market was noticeably weak in the baking and cheese areas. But of course it had an extensive meat and seafood area. We have definitely seen bigger, more expansive displays of these things, but there were some unique Spanish or Malaga touches to be seen.

How about ham or cheese in a cone?
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This was a puzzle. Is it cow or pig feet in fat?
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Karen PoretSend in Dodie to find out! :) …PS. Why is cinnamon for sale above it?
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1 month ago
Here at another counter is a white as well as an orange variant of whatever it is.
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We always see these neatly vacuum packed meat slices at Spanish markets.
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Coquilles St Jacques, I presume
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Langoustines, I presume. Well equipped to try climbing out of your paella.
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This was one of the few stalls getting ready to sell ready to eat food. They were rolling fish balls and croquettes and had gear for frying.
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Ah, the yellow chickens. Someone suggested in a Comment that the colour is more the variety than what they are fed.
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Stained glass in the market building depicts Malaga scenes, especially the one towered Cathedral, which is where we will be heading next.
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We walked back over to the Cathedral, taking that main traffic free street - Molina Lario. At the head of the street these Christmas tree like concoctions are of course flowers.

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The buildings of Lario street are very handsome.
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The Cathedral faces the Bishop's Square (Plaza del Obispo), with the Bishop's Palace, itself a beautiful building.
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The virgin high on the wall has a nice crown but looks suitably sad, with a Jesus in her arms and a pigeon to contend with.
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The wind was continuing, as we see from this unfortunate potted plant.
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Karen PoretAnother palm tree down…:(
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1 month ago

The Cathedral has the nickname "La Manquita" because only one of its two  towers was completed. In a bizarre twist, the money for the second tower was sent to the American revolutionaries in 1776. The  Cathedral was started in 1528, but was considered finished in 1782. No doubt being one tower short helped. The Cathedral is said to be Naples Renaissance style, with Spanish Gothic and Arab touches. The facade, on the other hand, is Baroque.

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There are three arches on the front facade, with medallions above the doors. These represent the patron saints of Malaga, Cyriscus and Paula, plus the Annunciation of the Virgin.
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The central medallion.
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A side view of the building.
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The interior design was marked by large elaborate columns, reaching to a very fancy ceiling. I am not sure which of the mentioned styles this is.

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I may be giving a bit of a biased view of the church statuary by focusing on distressed yet powerful Jesuses and tearful Marys, but I do think these are what distinguishes the Spanish churches, in addition to a lot of gold trim.

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Lots of gold trim.
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The mood was lightened as we passed into the Cathedral gift shop. We especially liked the book shown below, which is of a type that we often say still has too much information for us. Still we did some speed reading and quickly learned quite a bit!

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When we went to buy  our tickets for admission to the Cathedral, we planned to get one for at least me (Steve) to climb the tower. But the tower was closed, they said, due to the wind. Later, reading their warnings about the tower climb, I wonder if I would have made it. I am not pregnant, anyway!

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Karen PoretI wonder how many people had to be “rescued” because “Oh, I didn’t see the warning sign”..
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1 month ago

By the time we were leaving, the rain had stopped and in general the tourists had woken up. So here is the line we missed.

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Our next big thing was the Alcazaba, the palace/fortress on the Malaga hill, just below the main fort. It was a short walk, during which we continued to pass beautiful buildings like the one below, which contains the 1887 restaurant El Jardin:

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Along the way, we passed one of several "Turrones" shops. As explained to us on a previous trip, turrones is nougat, and for sure these shops sell nougat. But they have so many types of product, as well as types of nougat, that it is a bit hard to characterize them. Although there are different companies, all with claims to 100+ year histories, they have similar modes of operation - including giving out quite a few free samples. We were lured in by a simply fabulous thing called a Trufa, in the case of our sample, whiskey flavoured.

In the Turrones shop.
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There are so many varieties of nougat like stuff, plus chocolate and honey!

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The word Alcazaba  comes from the arabic al-Qasba, meaning urban fortress. There is one in Granada, but the title seems most associated with the one in Malaga, on the  hillside of Mount Gibralfaro, Primarily a fortress, the Malaga one was started by the Moors in the 11th century. They built it just above the former Roman theatre, in fact using some stones from that for the construction. And above the Alcazaba there is the Gibralfaro Castle. Of course, before all that the Romans built on top of the Phoenician city established in 770 BC. They called it Malaka. (Actually, the Phoenicians were followed by the Greeks for a couple of centuries, and then the Carthaginians. A lot of people came here, before the Grampies!)

One of the first striking things about the Alcazaba is the brick and stone construction, using small stones and thin bricks, often in a random seeming way.  Archways in this usually have the classic Moorish shape. 

Bricks and stones
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Moorish arch
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A textured wall
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Although basically a military structure, the Alcazaba also housed the town governors and had aspects of a palace as well. This was evident in the interior gardens and water features.

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Although low on the hill compared to the  fortress above, the Alcazaba still climbed quite a bit, and afforded views of Malaga beyond, including the harbour.

The cathedral can be seen from here.
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...and boats in the harbour
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A view out to the main city
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Looking down at City Hall
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Don't fall over the side!
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Going up, toward the fort, though there is no direct connection from here.
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Near the top of the Alcazaba is the palatial section. Here we found elaborate ceilings, water features, and also displays of pottery that had been uncovered over the years.

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A detailed ceiling.
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Water feature
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Somebody designed this in the 13th century.
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A selection of lids. Is this where all the missing lids at home ended up?
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10th century elegant mug
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Bits of excavated tile, 13th to 15th century
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People were so patient and skilful!
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This was a wood fired kiln, used to make all that pottery.
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Pieces of the fortress beyond.
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Back at the bottom, there is the view of the Roman theatre. This was one of those operations where gladiators fought animals.

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We were lucky in our timing again, having missed the lineup for the Alcazaba, seen here:

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We walked back in front of the Cathedral, and chose a restaurant there with the great view of the front façade and the Bishop's Square. We could see from stuff other people had ordered that the food looked good as well. One of their specialties was, of course, paella.

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Although neither of us is exactly fond of seafood (except fish),  and Dodie actively hates it, we felt sort of duty bound to give it a try, here by the Mediterranean. Things started well, as we got two sort of tapas. I like olives, and these were great, as were the little potatoes in sauce.

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We had ordered the seafood and chicken paella, to give Dodie a chance, but though there was chicken in there, what we got was really a seafood extravaganza.

It was really fun getting this. In fact I can easily call it a once in a lifetime experience! Frankly, the shellfish had a sort of indeterminate texture, and the rice component struck me as salty. I think a paella fan would have liked it, though. But next time I am back here, I am going for their ribs and fries!
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Jacquie GaudetLooks great to me! I am always amazed how much seafood you get in a dish like that compared to in Vancouver (where you’d pay more and get so much less).
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1 month ago

From the restaurant we walked down to the park (are you getting tired? we are!). Here was a chance to appreciate our quite southerly position in Europe, by looking at the semi-tropical plants of the park. Most of the trees are labelled, though without English common names the labels do not quite twig with us. The park is beautiful, though and was a good place to (almost) end our day of touring around.

A broad, smooth walkway.
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Restful semi-tropical park.
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Here is an example of a small palm, and its label.
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We were looking for any of the special parrots mentioned by Scott, but only came up with this cute parakeet, high in a tree. Not sure what the Christmas ornaments surrounding him are.

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Bill ShaneyfeltMaybe strawberry tree?
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/82689-Arbutus-unedo/browse_photos?place_id=6774
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1 month ago
A Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia Reginae. There are lots of them here. We always feel we are "south" when we see these.
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Now walking back toward the hotel, we stopped at a souvenir shop and got some good postcards. Did not get these "Ku Klux Klan" guys. We know, by the way, that the hoods legitimately come in black, red, blue, and white too.

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The Lepanto pastry shop also lay on our route. This place had as close to French style as we have found.

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Also Easter things - with the traditionally (for us) cheery aspect of Spring. More like Easter Bunnies than cruxifiction here!
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And at last some take home candied almonds. This nice man's smile was genuine, ending for us a really great day.

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Today's ride: 12 km (7 miles)
Total: 901 km (560 miles)

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