Once Daniel and I decided to make the move to Spain, we were thrilled we were going to get some traveling in. Even though our apartment wouldn’t be ready for another week after we arrived, we were looking forward to spending a few days in the beach town of Malaga on the Costa del Sol. Even in the cold of January, Malaga was a welcome break from the cold, winter weather we had been experiencing in New York.
We spent our days wandering the streets, getting used to the southern Spanish attitudes and adjusting to the jet lag. We hadn’t looked up anything to do in Malaga, so much of what we found was just by happening upon it. We also didn’t know that Malaga happened to be the birth city of one of my absolute favorite artists: Pablo Picasso. We toured his childhood home and took a look at some of his earliest works, which reminded me of how varied his style tended to be throughout his long lifetime.
We also toured the cathedral in Malaga, which was one of the most unique religious structures I had seen on my travels. It was once a mosque, and you could see how it had been altered by Christians after they had removed the Moors from power during Ferdinand and Isabella’s reign. It was intriguing to see how they had worked around the original architecture and had converted the minaret into a bell tower.
One of the things we loved most about Malaga was its mixture of modernity and history. Along with a Roman theater, there was also a Muslim palace at the top of the city’s highest hill, and we stumbled across ruins from every time period as we strolled around the streets. However, just when you felt as though you were transported back hundreds of years, we would find something new that reminded us of which time period we were in.
The boardwalk in Malaga was one of these things. Complete with the largest Ferris wheel in continental Europe, an aquarium, and a branch of the Pompidou modern art museum, we were surprised that we hadn’t more of Malaga and what it had to offer tourists. We tried to explore all of it, and I was even allowed to go up on the Ferris wheel even though I just made the height requirement.
Most of all, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the beach and the laid-back attitude that the people in Malaga had. No one seemed too concerned about anything, which was a welcome relief after months of living in New York and commuting on the subway. Winter did not feel like winter, and Daniel and I quickly found ourselves ditching our coats and enjoying the sunshine. Sitting on the beach, we allowed ourselves to relax thanks to the healing power of the Mediterranean. The most stressful part of our day was deciding where we wanted to go for dinner.
We hadn’t expected to love Malaga so much and to want to spend more time there. It was a city filled with magic and was a surprise destination that was affordable and offered a lot to do our first few days on our Spanish adventure. For beach lovers, young people who want a nightlife, and history buffs, Malaga is a destination that might not immediately jump out—but you’ll be glad you checked it out.
Have you ever been to a place that unexpectedly become special to you?