All this traveling and sightseeing has been exhausting. We needed a vacation. But where do you go in August, in Spain, that is relaxing, tranquil and has amazing sea views? Well, everyone else was going to Málaga so we thought we would too.
Málaga was a good place to take a vacation. Temperatures have hovered around 30C° and, along with the high humidity, it encouraged us to slow down. We have spent more days in our apartment than we have in the past allowing us a glimpse into everyday Spanish life in our small suburban neighborhood. Watching the various boats from our windows has provided hours of entertainment.
Here are a few other experiences we also enjoyed:
MUSIC: We have been entertained by musicians who stroll the streets or linger in the squares playing their trumpets, guitars or accordions sometimes with accompanying keyboards and vocals. At the nearby beach-side restaurants we enjoyed an elderly woman playing her accordion for tips. Further down the beach an elderly man was playing his accordion, also for tips. They both played quite well and we wondered if they were an accordion playing couple.
CHORES: Each apartment uses individual Butane gas tanks that are used to heat the water. Replacing these tanks is a regular requirement. Each tank lasts between 3 and 4 weeks depending on how often you heat the water. When the gas delivery person is in the area he loudly bellows out from the street below and then again when he is inside each building. And, oh my goodness, can he escalate his voice! We are on the 7th floor and had no issue hearing him. To reach as many people as possible he calls out to all the homes and apartments within earshot rather than knock on doors. You cannot miss his delivery call. And if you need your tank(s) replaced you just stick your head out the window and call back. It works amazingly well.
CHILDREN: As it is summer, children are constantly playing in the open square below us and they don’t use the intercom either; just their loud voices calling out to friends to come out and play. At 8am you will hear; “Isabel! Isabel! ¿Are you coming out to play?” Isabel sticks her head out her 5th floor window and calls back; “Hola Sofia! Si, cinco minutos.”
Still, the sound of children playing and laughing outside is comforting.
Living in southern Spain offers a charming, seductive and slow paced lifestyle. It is easy to assimilate into this cheerful way of life. However, just as we started to settle in, we learned about the local fair.
Apparently we arrived in Málaga just in time to take in the largest summer fair in Spain, called Feria de Málaga. The fair begins on a Friday night at midnight with a large fireworks display, followed by live music until dawn and ending 10 days later on a Monday evening at 8pm with a parade celebrating the arrival in the city of the Los Reyes Católicos, Isabella and Ferdinand, when they reconquered Málaga in the summer of 1487.
There are two distinct parts to the feria; a day (dia) fair and a night (noche) fair. ‘La Feria de Día’ is held in the historic centre downtown and begins around midday. Live music can be found in many of the small squares, hundreds of fair attendees dance, sing and celebrate in the brightly decorated streets and restaurants and the bars quickly fill up and then spill out into the fun. There is even a special fair drink called Cartojal, a sweet wine/sherry that almost everyone drinks during the fair. It comes in a 75ml plastic bottle along with usually 3 or 4 2-ounce plastic glasses.
Scattered throughout the crowds were many colorful flamenco dresses, señoras holding fans and flowers in their hair, lots of music and spontaneous dancing, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed. The Feria de Dia officially ends at 6pm when dozens of street cleaning personnel with water hoses and brooms, accompanied by half a dozen large garbage and street cleaning trucks, arrive in force. I have to admit, we were quite fascinated watching this process the first time we saw it. A few hours later the city is all picked up and spotlessly clean.
Once the Feria de Dia is over, everyone heads to the Feria de Noche, a quick shuttle bus ride west of the city, out to the fairgrounds where the carnival rides, candy floss and kebobs can be found. We spent a few hours wandering through the extensive midway with its numerous rides. There were so many options, children and young adults could be entertained for days.
While the fairgrounds look similar to fairgrounds that you would find in North America there are some major differences. First of all, the only cost involved is the food and drinks you may buy and the 1.50€ bus ride. There were no fair entrance fees, no fees for the carnival rides and no charges to listen to any of the live music. It was refreshing not to think about a budget.
Another difference was that although there were a few horse shows, there were no other livestock or agricultural shows to see. Nor did we see the typical competitions for baking, crafts, or produce that you would normally visit at a fair in North America.
However there was endless music and dancing and casita after casita where you would find drinks and delicious food served on white cloth-draped tables.
Beginning at noon at the Feria de Dia and ending at dawn at the Feria de Noche, this was a 10-day summer celebration with people-watching at it’s best!
Salud from these Malagueños,
Ted & Julia