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On Christmas Day in the Morning

When we woke up on Christmas morning, my son looked out the window and said, “It sure looks like a great day to go out.”

So we went out. We actually went out in the afternoon, because if we go out in the morning the kids don’t pay attention to anything except their stomachs the whole day long. So it’s much better to fill them up first with a hearty lunch.

Parque Alameda Malaga

First stop: Alameda Park, the major park in downtown Malaga that’s right next to the port. We snapped a pic of the lush winter foliage and then immediately, we were off to the real object of our day trip: the Moorish castle that overlooks all of Malaga, the Castle of Gibralfaro.

Climbing Gibralfaro Mountain

I took a lot of photos of Malaga looking progressively smaller and more bird’s-eye sort of view as we climbed higher and higher, but those will have to be the subject of a future post.

Flowers Gibralfaro Malaga

Yes, this is really what Malaga looks like on Christmas day. Certainly not a sight that you could ever see in cold Canada!

Flowers on the Mountain Malaga

But then again, this is southern Spain.

Walls of the Alcazaba Malaga

The first part of the climb was simply stairs and more stairs meandering through a very pleasant park with lots of plants, especially flowers. We could see Malaga shrinking below us, but other than that, it didn’t seem too different from a walk through any other urban park on a mountainside.

And then we reached the castle. This is a view of the actual walls from below, when we first came upon them. These walls are probably over a thousand years old. (I’m not too sure exactly, would have to check up in the history books, but taking into account that the Moors ruled Spain from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, that would more or less be a rough estimate.) Formidable!

Oven Gibralfaro Malaga

My son discovered this mystery lurking in the mountainside underneath a sort of cliff wall, well hidden from sight from the main pathway. We’re not too sure what it is, but it sort of reminds me of some type of oven, perhaps.

Flowers by the Alcazaba Malaga

We wandered around the castle a bit. Moorish castles in general are known as “alcazabas”, the ultra famous Alhambra in Granada is the best-known example of a Moorish castle or “alcazaba”. However, it’s not the only one in Spain, as virtually every southern city enjoys its own. Most are run-down and not very showy, but they are all conserved as monuments and you can usually visit them. We’ve also been to the one in Almeria, not very well-known at all in the rest of the world (or even in Spain, for that matter).

Sunset Alcazaba Malaga

The sunlight glancing off the walls of this “alcazaba” reminded us that soon it would be dark. I found the colours of the almost-setting sun a striking golden-orange sort of shade against the red earthen walls.

Tunnel Gibralfaro Malaga

After admiring the setting lights we decided to check out this tunnel that runs underneath the monument.

It leads to the back of the mountain and, in fact, the castle itself is like the centre of a star and depending on where you begin your descent from the mountain, you can end up in different parts of the city, with each pathway down acting sort of like a ray that spreads outward from the centre of the star towards a different neighbourhood.

Flowered Path

But we weren’t ready to go down yet!

Steps Alcazaba Malaga

As you can see, we continued climbing UP!

Path Gibralfaro Mountain Malaga

Path in Black and White

Good exercise for the soul, and I finally realized why my son failed Physical Education!

Setting Sun Alcazaba Malaga

A last view of the sunset off the reddish-golden walls.

Malaga Cathedral by Night

I found this view of Malaga’s cathedral as we left the grounds captivating. The night air was behaving and acting especially crisp and clear today.

Bar Malaga

Of course, you can’t end a day like today without something warm and filling. So we took a different route down into the city centre so we could enjoy tapas. What a fantastic ending to a lovely Christmas day.

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Kings’ Day Parades

Well a little time has passed since Kings’ Day and its very particular Kings’ Day parades. But then again, quite a bit more than a little time has passed as well since I last posted, I think. So, better late than never I guess.

Well, first, a little bit of history, because I imagine that in the greater part of the world you do not celebrate Kings’ Day, do you?

Big Doll Float

Kings’ Day is actually what in many places is referred to as the “Twelfth Day of Christmas”, as in: “On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me……..” (I don’t know what her true love gave to her). It is also known as Epiphany and in some religious circles, Christmas is actually celebrated on this day, and not on Dec. 25. The reason why there are twelve days is, I suppose, because that was how long it took the Three Kings of Orient to cross the immense desert and travel to Bethlehem, hence the name Kings’ Day.

Pink Castle Float

The Three Kings brought gifts for the baby, so now do they also bring gifts for every little Spanish girl and boy.

Kings’ Day is a very festive occasion, perhaps a Spanish equivalent, I suppose, to Thanksgiving, seeing as Thanksgiving doesn’t exist in Spain. Families gather together and have a great meal with lots of fun and laughter. Of course sharing in the “roscón de Reyes”, a lovely cake which unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to make a photo of, is fundamental in this family meal.

Smurf Float

Well, supposedly the Three Kings arrive in Spain on the eve of Kings’ Day, also known as Twelfth Night, as in Shakespeare’s play. I guess traditionally they might have arrived by camel, but nowadays they make use of every modern gadget such as arriving by boat, airplane and helicopter, bearing gifts to all.

On this very important Twelfth Night, or the eve of Kings’ Day, there are grand parades everywhere. All at night, of course. Sort of like the Rose Parade, but in the dark of the night.

Illuminated Float

As the floats pass on by, the people who are riding on the floats toss out candies and caramels to the crowd, and all the children (and some adults too) scramble to fill their baggies with as many of these caramels as possible. We used to do that too, but we hate candies and caramels and never eat them. I used to hang them up behind the kitchen door, thinking maybe one day I could put them to good use, until one day I discovered them all melted into one big sloshy sugary mess. That’s Malaga summers for you!

Religious Float

You can tell that this is Malaga, home of Holy Week processions. Even in an event geared to children, the religious floats have a place for themselves.

From these photos, it might look like it’s a relaxed and comfortable, spacious sort of atmosphere. A few spectators present, of course, as might be expected in a parade. But for the most part, nice and easy, right? Well look again:

Parade Ambience

Dancing at Malaga’s Annual Fair (And Roller Coasters Too, Of Course)

 

Malaga Fair Entrance Castle

So now it is true that some time has passed since the event of this post. But, well, it’s always nice to look back and remember: fond memories, exuberant summer nights, amusement rides, ferris wheels and dancing till the next sunrise. We’re talking about: the Malaga Fair.

The Malaga Fair occurs in August. So why am I writing about it now, in October? Well, because I didn’t have time to write about it before (seeing as I was too busy zipping about to places like La Linea de la Concepcion, which you can read about in the following post, or Barcelona).

And also because, as I said at the beginning of this post, a little bit of nostalgia never hurts!

Malaga Fair Lights

Now that everyone is all settled down in their workplaces or school desks, it’s a good moment to linger over those simmering days and balmy nights when you were free. No schedules to run after. No traffic jams. Just good fun all night long.

At the Malaga Fair.

Malaga Fair by Night

In Malaga the annual fair, which as I mentioned before happens in August, takes place in 2 locations. On the one hand, you can boil and broil a bit at the Day Fair which is located in downtown Malaga. This year we didn’t go, because unlike the majority of people I work during the summer. Hence no daytime photos.

Malaga Fair Cute Cottage

This is one of those weird set-ups that they like to put out on the streets. It’s a fake cottage designed to imitate the old country-style farmhouses with traditional Andalusian décor that used to dot all the mountainsides. You’re supposed to pose inside this cottage with your typical flamenco costumes and get your photo taken – for a price, of course.

At the Day Fair, people put out bars and stands on all the streets in the centre of the city. You can enjoy typical southern fare like crispy fried fish, chorizo and other sweetmeats on rustic brown bread. You can have a treat of paella, or indulge in some sumptuous seafood delicacies.

Flamenco and Gypsy

 

And of course you can listen to flamenco and dance (although the muggy weather lends itself quite a bit more to siesta-ing than dancing).

Everyone dresses up in traditional Gypsy costumes to go the fair. Women wear long dresses with lots of ruffles and gentlemen (and little boys) get all got up in vests and wide-winged black hats.

 

Although I was unable to take a picture of people sumptuously attired at the Day Fair, I did manage to capture a glimpse of what some of these Gypsy costumes are like during the night.

Malaga Fair Kiddy Ride

And at night is when all the fun begins!

Malaga Fair LightsPeople come to life at night. Not surprising, because the daytime temperatures (at well over 105 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 40º Celsius for people sitting around here in Spain) on a typical summer’s day, as you can also discover here in this hot post) cause everyone to wilt and faint.

The night-time fair is set up on the extensive fairgrounds at the edge of the city. You can walk there, like I do, because the night absolutely URGES you on a stroll to take the cool breeze! But if walking isn’t your style, or you live on the other side of town (or outside town), there are frequent buses the whole night long from every neighbourhood and neighbouring town.

Malaga Fair Castle Entrance

There are lots of things to do at the night-time fair. The kids and I are wild about the rides, and that is the only thing WE do there!

Malaga Fair Ride

There are at least 4 or 5 different roller coaster rides. My oldest and I love roller coasters, so you can find us on top of every one of them at some point.

You also have water rides, spinning rides, bouncing rides. And kiddy rides. For my little kid. Roller coasters and bouncy things just aren’t up his alley, but kiddy rides? He’d get onto 50 if he could!

Malaga Fair Kiddy Ride

If velocity and thrills just aren’t your piece of pie, you can still enjoy the ferris wheel. It’s very tall, and the views from the top are utterly breath-taking. Malaga at night, with its dazzling neon, spread out all underneath you at a bird’s eye’s point of view.

Walking Around Malaga Fair

A lot of people, however, aren’t into any sorts of rides. They are into food and drink. Concerts and dances. And they certainly receive their fill in the hundreds of little tents (casetas) where typical fare is served, beer is guzzled, wine is tasted and lively music sparks up the atmosphere the whole night long.

Malaga Fair Castle Tower