Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Málaga: Searching for the Sun in Europe!

Malagueta Beach east of the city center
The warmest place in Europe can still be cool (and I’m talkin’ tiempo) – but that’s the only part that’s unfriendly. Whether you’re hostel hopping around Spain – or taking some time off to learn Spanish (like me), Málaga is a perfect locale to soak in the Sun as well as Spain. Beaches, check, Palm trees, check, new friends from all over the world, check – what more really matters?

You might not make it to Málaga if this is your first time to Spain – you’ll likely plan to swing through Granada, do the very-American touristy/study-abroad thing in Sevilla or keep to the biggest, best urban centers Barcelona & Madrid – Málaga might not make your list. But if you’re coming here to live, it’s definitely on a short list.

And you won’t be alone – from familiar westerners to more far-from-home Russians, South Koreans & Chinese – everyone’s here taking advantage of Spain’s beauty combined with its fabulous weather (must I repeat: Spain is the best place on earth). There's good reason that Spain is the #3 destination for study abroad for US students, nearly 10 percent of the quarter-of-a-million students abroad choose here. Of course, this is the only reason NOT to come:  Brits, Germans & Americans do take over a bit - but you'll still meet Spaniards if you are determined to speak Spanish. (At my inter-cambio language exchange on Monday a Spaniard told me he rarely sees foreigners - but I think he's not looking...)

Surrounded by the harbor and beach, Málaga's city center's near perfect weather is only surpassed by it’s beauty. Cold here is 50 (that’s 8 C) – but if you look around in the winter, you would think it’s 32 based on the dress! To be fair, it’s a different feeling when its’ wet and cold – and it can be a bit windy and rainy this time of year (but thats only a few months - or I hope, weeks!). It’s still the warmest place in the land-mass of Europe - and the sun still feels warm here & shines more than half the time in winter.

Gibralfaro - Nothing beats a great sunset with mountains & cityscape!
My favorite attraction is the viewpoint (Mirador) from Gibralfaro, on the hills above the Alcazar – but there’s a few more, including the Picasso Museum, City Center with lovely Calle de Larios, and Cathedral, - the typical places that make each city in Spain so special. The place to get food and drink (& not too caro) is Bodega de Pimpi or El Pimpi. Drink with new friends there overlooking a Roman amphitheater. If you get tired – or get lost – wandering through the city center, you can always find the water and walk along the beautiful (if touristy) waterfront, and look back at the Alcazar and city center & shop and eat shops and restaurants.

And during these cooler times, gays are online in full force – but you’re looking for the student crowd stay away from January & June these “cram times” mean less students out (or at least Spaniards). Yet the party rages in the city – as Europeans continent-wide try to find somewhere close to keep warm for the winter. Just yesterday, I heard Málaga - or more specifically just south in Torremolinos - is the 3rd gayest place in Spain after Madrid's Chueca & Barcelona's Sitges (and you'll note each includes a dedicated LGBT webpage!).

I'm headed to the gay spots this weekend - so I'll save my gay-Málaga post for the next! Suffice it to say, you can always find friends & fun if you seek it - and have patience. For example, you could just chill out at a hostel - who knows - a cute, eager "gap year" student might swing through town with all his girlfriends... ;)

Back to learning spanish and trying to meet Spaniards for now!

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