Another in the occasional series by our roving arts reporter, David Smith
You all know Malaga; some fly over it, some drive round it, others sail past it but few stay in the city. Well we did, and what a surprise: three days in Malaga!
I had no idea that the airport in Malaga was so big; it was huge….and it was raining. I am sure that it isn’t supposed to rain in Spain once you are off the plane! It was raining cats and dogs…wait, more than that…more like donkeys and elephants…it was torrential.
When we arrived at the hotel we were met with apologies: it was flooded. We had to move.
The taxi dropped us off by the new hotel, much closer to the centre of the old town we were assured. The driver vaguely waved at a bell by a doorway, indicated he could go no further and promptly left. It was still raining. I rang the bell… nothing… and again… nothing. We fled to a cafe across the road and waited. I rang the first hotel. The number they had given me was their fax machine! I ran through the rain again to press the bell again… nothing! Soaked by this time I decided to look for another entrance; walked round the corner of the building to find that it was a pedestrianised area. No wonder the taxi could go no further. I found the main entrance to the hotel with a smiling and welcoming reception… what a fool I had been! What a start to our three days in Malaga.
After borrowing umbrellas and finding a place to eat we were assured by a still smiling reception that tomorrow all would be well.
Morning was bathed in glorious sunshine. The Cathedral is always a good place to start. It lies in the centre of the old town. It was gloriously full of light. The great paintings which formed the reredos of many of the chapels, so disappointingly dark in many of the other cathedrals we have visited, were wonderfully bright, full of vibrant colour. It was a pleasure just to sit and look at them trying to work out which biblical story they illustrated before venturing over to read the small print. The wood carvings on the choir stalls are magnificent.
After the Roman amphitheatre we began the steep climb to the Moorish Fort: the Alcazaba, which overlooks the city. I confess that we gave up, came back down and took a taxi to the Parador which stands above the fortress to sip mint tea and cold beer to admire views along the coast and the city below.
The evening offered live flamenco in a tiny theatre close to the Picasso Museum with a free glass of cava. Three dancers, one male, a guitarist and a singer offered an evening of fury and passion. I love flamenco: the noise of the dancers’ heels on the wooden boards, the wail of singer, the drama in the faces of the women as they feel their way into the dance, the spray of sweat from the dancer’s hair as he shakes his head.
It is as if they are dancing for themselves, ignoring our presence; yet we are totally engaged. Fantastic!
Exhausted we fall into the street for another glass of cava to recover.
The following day the Picasso Museum is a joy. I have enjoyed the reopening of his museum in Paris but I enjoyed this much more.
There’s a real feel of chronology as we are met with work from Picasso’s childhood and taken through his life into his 90’s. The works are beautifully and spaciously hung, breathing life into the white walls, exploding with colour. My only regret was that I saw nothing from his ‘blue period’.
Sitting in the museum’s shaded courtyard, sipping cold beer with music from a Spanish guitar drifting over the walls, I thought: ‘Hmm…I will come here again…’
Art gazing is tiring so what next? The answer is obvious: two hours in a Turkish spa: Hamman al Andalus, hot and cold bathing, hot stones, and a massage!