I woke to another sunny day, which is such a treat and a glorious respite from the grey of London in January. I wanted to visit the Moorish Alcazaba Fortress again as I loved the walk to the top and views last time. And it seemed a perfect way to spend a sunny morning. I set off from the hotel after breakfast, passing through the lovely Plaza de la Constitucion, lit by the early morning sun and almost empty as it was early.
I bought a combined ticket for the Fortress and the nearby Gibralfaro Castle (€5.50/€2.50 concessions). I wasn’t sure I’d make both climbs today and I know from my last visit that the castle is a more demanding climb, but the woman in the ticket office said it was valid for 48 hours so I can do the castle tomorrow.
As I passed through rows of orange trees, heavy with ripe fruit, I felt so pleased to be here at this time of year to see them. It was the Moors who brought orange trees from North Africa to Spain in the 7th century and planted them in Andalucia, so these Moorish ruins were a very appropriate place to celebrate them. The Moors began building the Fortress in the 8th century but most of it was built in the 11th century.
It’s a fairly steep climb but the paths are well maintained and you are rewarded with spectacular views. You get a brilliant view of the marina and port, and looking further round across the city.
The higher I climbed the more the Moorish history became evident: the arches, mosaics and water features; the beautiful courtyards.
Some rooms were mini museums with artefacts like ceramics and mosaics to view.
I saw a few other people on my way round but it was fairly deserted so going early had been a good idea. It’s the kind of place that benefits from peace and quiet to fully appreciate it.
Back at street level I decided to stop for a coffee (there is a cafe in the Alcazaba with a great view but sadly closed today). I sat down at a place with tables outside and a view across to the Fortress.
I knew I simply had to go to the awesome Mercato Atarazanas again and it’s just the best place to have lunch.
Even before midday people were sitting outside eating but I wanted to look around the market first. If you go through the arch at the front you see before you the wonderful huge stained glass window at the far end.
There may be tourists like me taking photos rather than buying, food tours stopping in their groups, but this is also a vibrant market where the locals shop. And it’s full of top quality, fabulous foods. It’s open every day except Sunday.
I took a stool at a tall bar table just outside on the pavement at the same place I ate last time. I knew I wanted the mixed fried fish again – and really, if you like seafood, you can’t leave Malaga without trying one of its most famous dishes. And the market ensures you enjoy the best fresh fish.
I couldn’t resist ordering a small (tapas size) seafood paella (for just €2) as well as the fried fish (€10) and a small beer.
It was as wonderful as I’d remembered. And great fun to eat at the market in a crowded bar area.
I thought a perfect way to finish my Spanish lunch was with some churros and one of Malaga’s best places to eat them is at Casa Aranda, which has been in business since 1932.
I have to confess I’m not a churros fan and it was more out of interest that I thought I’d try them, especially as Malaga’s best were only about a 5 minute walk from my hotel. I’ve imagined they’d be too sweet for me. Such a novice was I that I didn’t know how to order them. How many should I order? And I didn’t know I had to order the chocolate separately. However, the waiter was helpful and friendly and I was soon sorted out (though the churros were so big I could really have managed with just one rather than two). It cost €2.80.
In the end, I was a big convert. They were wonderful. The ‘doughnut’ so light, slightly crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle; the chocolate rich and delicious and not too sweet at all.
What a full and lovely morning it had been: glorious views and fabulous food. Now it was siesta time so I made my way back to the hotel.
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