Sunday, January 25, 2009

Off to Southern Spain

I am on the first train this Sunday morning from Flaca to Barcelona. I am not sure I will make it past Barcelona today due to ticketing issues. It turns out that you can only purchase tickets over the RENFE (Spanish Rail) Web site or phone if you have either American Express or Spanish credit cards, otherwise, no ticket. And on the Web site you will not be told this so I spent hours and days frustratingly trying to purchase a ticket to no avail. However, I had no problem at the Barcelona Sants Station as it was not too busy when I arrived.

So now I am on the AVE – Spain’s fast train – to points south – destination today is Malaga. I have temporarily traded in Orwell’s excellent Homage to Catalonia for the 940-page tome, Don Quixote. Required school reading for Spaniards, this translation by Edith Grossman was recommended to me by my Spanish friend, Anabel, an artist and creative professor of Spanish literature.

The train ride is smooth, and while fast, not too fast to see the sweeping landscape of Spain complete with miles of olive trees, clay-tile roofs, and windmills.

After six hours I arrived at Malaga’s RENFE train station, an airy, new, facility full of activity on this Sunday afternoon. I walked the roughly 1km to my hostal, modest but sufficient and cheap (26 euro/night) on the third floor of a building that sits on a refurbished shopping street adjacent to the old town. Thankfully my room is not on the street side.

Spanish cities hum in the evening, so I took advantage of that and headed off to the Picasso Museum – open until 8:00pm on Sundays. I was amazed to see a line outside since this is considered the off-season for Malaga, but found out, once inside, that it was a free-entry day so people were taking advantage of it. The museum has an open courtyard in the middle and the exhibition rooms display some of Picasso’s lesser-known work.

After poking around the old town a bit, I wandered back past the Museum to La Teteria, a cafĂ© advertising medicinal teas, coffee, chocolate and other treats. I chose an outdoor table under the awning tucked against the building where I partook of a pina (pineapple) “sorbete” – some divine fresh fruit juice drink that I downed immediately, and an infusion of “digestivo” herbal tea. I savored my warm tea as the sun went down, the wind picked up, and the orange-glow streetlamps came on making it feel that the sunset was lingering. People were out and about and I made my way through some different old lanes to the pedestrian street where my hostal is located to settle in for some free wifi and what I hope will be a good sleep.

Picasso Museum in Malaga -
La Teteria, San Agustin, 9, Malaga; Tel 650 656 560;

1 comment:

colleen said...

Sounds amazing, Dorian! I love reading and living vicariously through your blog. Thanks for posting-it is great!