City Highlight: Modern Malaga

As much as I feel like I've repped Malaga, I haven't even broken the surface with places of interest. Malaga is a playground full of things to see and do. Malaga is the Disneyland of Spain with a touch of the Smithsonian. The real issue is as much magic as there is for everyone it may be impossible to see it all. Most of the factoids about this city I found out well after I left. So just like those touristy epicenters mentioned above you cannot see it in one day or visit - you simply have to revisit over and over again. I'll always have my beloved locales that I must see. However, I now know of so many places I missed and long to go.

We stayed at the RoomMate Lola (this location has now changed to some other brand hotel group) sort of off the beaten path but there is the RoomMate Larios (he remains) right in the heart of the shopping off Calle Larios. This Room Mate offers a great lineup of evening music and dancing with the city's best skyline view. Of course, Malaga has other hotels and a many listing for inexpensive, quality home rentals but RoomMate is like the best for accommodations and entertainment. Shopping off Larios is also dotted with many popular restaurants, bars and dessert shoppes. There are plenty of places for tapas but even more fine dining establishments with broader menus. Malaga was the only place we visited in Spain where I was excited about the food. I'm certain there were those places that thrived on tourist sales of pizza, pasta and paellas but we only found a few. When looking for options you have the cavernous selections around the shopping district, around the beach and on the beach. Thankfully, menus speak for themselves versus people employing you to eat. 

On the way to Playa Malagueta you will find a series of casual and fine dining establishments off of Muelle Uno. Pier One is another popular shopping district with all the Spanish phone carriers, Kiko Cosmetics and a Primor. Uno is dotted with bay side bars, party boats in the marina and some amazing restaurant concepts. Outside of Greek, Indian and Mexican there was an Argentinean steakhouse, Japanese hibachi and a French seasonal place. Beach side we always opted for the Mami Beach Bar - a perfect dive for burgers, grilled fish and frozen drinks. Mami is the all hot pink stand with San Miguel chairs nearest to the rocks. They have a walk up for pina coladas, barrel tables for those wanting a quick bite and a covered seating area complete with lounge chairs and a flatscreen. There are quite a few beach side places offering Miami like ambiance and dingy BBQ but Mami was the most down to Earth. When walking back you will also find more seafood places, Chinese and quick service like 300 Montiditos. 

Walking uptown and into the more populated areas of Malaga there are local panaderias and too many heladerias. I've never presented with so much choice in my life - from old standards like Haagan Dazs to organic ice pops to cart slushes to jerk counters. Malaga is like the capital for legendary ice cream. I would say that the best way to choose is select the one with the most people lining up and Casa Mira was always packed. Open late Mira has some of the best flavors in Spain with a light texture in between fresh gelato and hand dipped ice cream. We went to Mira three times while in Malaga I tried new things each time but most locals opt for the Tutti Fruitti flavor. Just up from Casa Mira is a wildly authentic spot Cafe Lepanto. They feature a traditional Italian dessert and coffee menu with light brunch and lunch options. Lepanto is also the best people watching spot off Calle Larios and Bolsa. Just across from it we dined at El Rescolado, a lovely dining experience out of three offered by the renown and Michelin starred Trillo restaurant group. Hit all three of these places for an exquisite tour of the epicurean Malaga. 

There is a plethora of art museums, galleries and events in Malaga. You will find free exhibits and performances throughout the city as well as some great permanent collections at cost. Malaga prides itself on being the original home to Pablo Picasso and many works are on view in the city. Fundacion Picasso is ran from a small house off Plaza de la Merced. You start in the birth home of Pablo Picasso, Museo Casa Natal. There you will work your way through floors of original furnishings, family photographs and some very obscure works including pottery. The greatest part about the home is it isn't the end of the exhibit; there are temporary works adjacent to the home in a detached gallery. The exhibit that Summer explored Picasso's experiences in Montmarte - Paris. We were immersed into a world unknown about the artist who was once an entertainer, performer and amateur archivist. I was very happy to see Paris through the eyes of Picasso. In the winding tourist streets of the city you will find Museo Picasso Malaga. This museum is by far the best museum I've ever visited. Everything was beautifully presented and ran fluidly - from ticketing, to the exhibition halls and especially in the late Dennis Hopper "On The Road"  temporary exhibit. Words cannot explain the pitch perfectness of this exhibit especially in the halls of one of the finest Picasso collections in the world. Dennis Hopper was nobodies actor - he was a great installation artist, photographer and archivist in his own right. You can always see Hopper's works via his site here. Also, there are a few gems both inside and outside of the museum. Before you leave don't forget to check out the ruins underneath the galleries. If hungry, the museum has a cafe but just outside you will find a great little no-name Greek spot with gyros bigger than your face for under 5 Euros.

The art presence does't stop at Picasso. I highly recommend a stop at La Termica - Malaga's answer to the art scene in the area. While visiting the space was under renovation so there was no clear space for meetings and exhibits. However, the site shows an ongoing representation of visual, musical and performance art in Spain. They also have a cult following in social media and their Facebook is always presenting new works. The CAC is also ever changing with lots of artistic and cultural events always happening in the space. Change is something ongoing with Malaga throughout the city. When visiting the CAC and walking a great distance northeast in search of a lavaderia we witnessed so much construction. As unsightly as these projects are they will anew the city with every visit. The beauty in this is that the remnants of the ancient city still remain while modern sites prosper. There is such joy in walking past a gigantic shopping mall and then being whisked back in time by a traditional panaderia. Just like washing clothes in a fully automated laundromat that dispenses its own soap, has free wi-fi and then finding pitufo helados for 25 cents next door. Pure magic, far and wide.

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