Crosses in a courtyard. (photo by Emily I'm pretty sure).
Since we didn't have New Years plans, we decided to check out Malaga
and see what trouble we could cause. I LOVE spontaneous trips. Unfortunately, I'd fallen victim to a European Bug Invasion and was fighting off what would become a pretty bad sickness. I blame it on the monkeys. I think I'll be blaming quite a bit on those monkeys in 2009. A nice, flat day in Malaga sounded like just the thing. Little was I to know.
Our first stop was at the Cathedral of Malaga. We were all pretty tired from our escapades on The Rock (me more than the rest), so when we discovered there was an entry fee we decided to take a break and capture some shots. Megs, Em and Brett have incredible eyes for photography.
Picasso Museum, featuring a Max Ernst display. Unfortunately, I couldn't take pictures inside.
Not only do they see things I don't, they see different things than one another. I love looking through the photos at the end of the day to catch a glimpse of the world through their eyes.
Emily is a huge art fan and was wonderful at pointing us in the direction of interesting art spots. Megs and I were pretty excited to check out the Museo Picasso Malaga. Megs has far more knowledge of Picasso's work than I do so I was looking forward to some learnin'. Unfortunately, we weren't able to take pictures so I'll post some links instead. Emily had been talking about a Max Ernst
exhibition they'd seen in New York (I think).
An example of a painting the Jackson's had been discussing. This piece wasn't at the exhibition, though we saw a lot of other interesting work.
His blending of humans with industrial themes sounded interesting. The pieces they talked about weren't at this exhibition, though. I did find his blending of human and animal forms interesting. Usually when I think of artistic blending of humans and animals I think of Susan Seddon Bullet
or other shamanically influenced artists. Ernst's interpretations are far more literal--men in suits with their heads replaced by a realistic depiction of an egret, for example.
I didn't find myself compelled by the Picasso pieces at first. That changed after Megs explained their history and cultural context.
Smoked Salmon salad courtisy of our SUPER sweet server at Comoloco
One of his most famous pieces, Guernica
, is layered with social commentary on the Spanish Civil War. This started us on a discussion about whether context should be required to appreciate an artist's work.
After rocking the Museo, we headed to lunch at Comoloco for a long list of intriguing salads and pitas. Our server was the sweetest, chatting with us in her limited English while Brett and I hammered through what food-ordering Spanish we'd picked up from Em and Megs.
Our next stop, though I didn't really know it at the time, was the Castillo de Gibralfaro. The Castillo sits high above the Alcazaba, the palace of Malaga's former Muslim governors, which dates from the early 1000's. And when I say "high above" I mean, "Oh, God, please don't tell me we're climbing this thing" kind of high.
The throwing game, part 1 (see below for rest of series)
The others didn't flinch--much--and I was determined not to be an anchor so up we went. Eventually Megs and I decided this hiking thing wasn't cutting it and we needed a different approach. Thus was born "The Throwing Game". The Throwing Game (don't try this at home boys and girls), consists of me swinging Megs up hill, her landing then using her own momentum to throw me up the hill. Wash, rinse, repeat. We were shocked at how effective it was. I heard Em cracking up and Brett managed to get a nice little photo series. We were still beat when we reached the top, but it gave our legs a rest and the exhaustion was tempered by all our laughter.
After the laughing I felt much better. Or maybe it was because we'd finally reached the top. Hard to tell. Either way, I'm really glad I made it.
Spanish card deck developed from the Tarot. Cool.
The original Castillo was built by Abd ar-Rahman I in the 8th Century, but was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries. There isn't anything left of the interior of the structure (furniture, etc), but the ramparts and battlements had spectacular views. The museum was small but very satisfying. Manikins were dressed in period garb from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. I was particularly intrigued by the design of the Arquebusier's bandolier (an arquebus is an early, muzzle-loading rifle), consisting of twelve wooden gunpowder charges known as "The Twelve Apostles". They also had a display of Spanish playing cards, which were originally developed from the tarot deck. Megs and I would discover that this deck is still in current use and we even ran into several people who said they had no idea how to play with our "strange, foreign deck" (paraphrase).
You can see where they wrote our tab on the bar in chalk.
We wrapped up our Malaga tour with a search for wine and tapas. The Lonely Planet recommended a place called the Antigua Casa de Guardia. We were all taken aback by the layout when we arrived. It was a standing bar, didn't seem to have much in the way of tabs and had barrels stacked reminiscent of a pub from a high fantasy novel. The barrels were labeled and the tenders pulled glasses straight from the tap. Once we got the hang of the place and our friendly bartender, we were in. There weren't any tabs because they keep track of what you order by writing it on the bar in chalk. I thought the wine was a good example of the local Malaga style. Sweet, like a port, but not as thick. We enjoyed it so much we asked for two bottles to celebrate our New Year with. Our awesome tender pulled them straight from the barrel, corked them, then labeled them by hand.
Watching these three make dinner was a hoot. Yes, I said a hoot!
I had been skeptical about the place when we first walked in. I'm so glad we stayed.
We ended our night back "home" in Estapona. The trio of chefs team-worked a fabulous meal all the while laughing their heads off (something about cheese carved into the shape of swans). I can count on three fingers the people in my life who can get me laughing so deeply my body hurts. Steve Magan, Tony Alvarez and Brett Jackson. I'm lucky I've never had them all in the same room or I might not survive.
Happy New Year everyone, and may 2009 be the start of an incredible rest of your life.