Sunday 16 June 2024

Granada is GREAT!

I visited Granada last week and really enjoyed it.

I picked the train over the bus as the way to get there and it was a really comfortable way to travel with beatiful views the whole way there and back (and is very easy to get to from Malaga being about 1.5 hours away by train). 

Here's a few pics from my visit:

How beautiful are the public street lights?!

Granada has stunning architecture everywhere! It's got far more beautiful and historical buildings than Malaga

We visited a viewing point to see the most spectacular scenery and of course the Alhambra which is spectacular

Overall, I thought Granada to be much bigger than I expected. It's a very beautiful city and being a university town it's got a cool youmg vibe to it.

In Granda, a free tapas is always given when you order a drink. That's nice for sure!

And there are tons of art galleries and museums to visit. We stopped off in La Raiz, El Silo Electrico and spent a bit of time browsing the art in the Centro Jose Guerrero which houses a very special collection of artworks over many floors.

It was a flying visit and next time we go we will stay for a night or two and go visit the Alhambra with on a guided tour.

Friday 7 June 2024

Marrakech, Morocco - holiday visit!

 Am just back from a trip to Marrakech after flying there with Ryanair.

Here's a brief write up of what I got up to in this city. 

Day 1 - Afternoon flight

Arrived to where we are staying in Marrakesh yesterday and we were served the most delicious mint tea and biscuits on our arrival.
We explored a little bit of the medina and then relaxed on the rooftop terrace of our riad.
Later we were served an absolute feast of traditional Moroccan food by our host which we followed by an early sleep as we were tired after the travel and small time change.
Marrakesh is unlike anywhere I have ever been to and I look forward to seeing more of it over the next few days
Day 2

Today, after an incredible traditional breakfast in our riad (with the best coffee!) we set about exploring the medina today. We took a visit in to Bahia Palace whivh was so beautiful but my photos don't do the colours and details any justice.
After that it was time for a cold drink of water and a little pastry while taking in the sights & sounds of Marrakesh.
Its a busy place with everything feeling unfamiliar, and while walking through a market I came upon a snake charmer and a man with monkeys in his arms. I'm not a fan of snakes so practically ran the other way.
Later after relaxing with a book on the roof top it was then time to venture out for dinner. Our cards wouldn't give us any cash, and with not many places taking card payment, we had to scrape what cash we currently have to pay for cheap and cheerful dishes!
Day 3

Today after an early breakfast we set off to visit the beautiful Jardin Mayorelle and the Yves Saint Laurent museum. It was a long walk outside of the walled city and luckily we had booked tickets online which saved us a big wait!

The gardens were so gorgeous and incredibly tranquil while the YSL museum was in a stunning building designed by KO Studio and housed the most beautiful YSL couture and art.

After getting lost on our way back to our riad (but were kindly directed away from the tanneries and towards the market square by a man on a bike who called out to us to take a right as we were just beginning to go left) we spent the afternoon on the terrace and took dips in the cold water pool to cool down.
And then it was off for another wander in the evening for a dinner on a terrace high above the main square. A tasty tagine with added people watching!

Day 4

Another busy day in Marrakech with visits to the Musee de Marrakech and the excellent Maison de la Photographie. It was incredible to see photos of the souk taken in 1920 with not very much change from today.
For dinner we we went to "Le Trou au Mur" where I sampled the delights of Camel(!) made in a tangia rather than a tagine. So good and very like beef I think!

Day 5

We spent the morning visiting the Musee de la Femme and after that the Museum of the Confluences which also houses the gorgeous Bacha Coffee cafe. There was a really good exhibition by Fatma Gbouri in this museum, and she was one of the women highlighted in the Musee de la Femme!

We have got into a nice routine of having a leisurely morning visiting different places and then spending the afternoon reading in the sun and going out for dinner about 7pm (stopping off beforehand for a cold drink of water in a busy place doing some people watching) and getting home just before the sun fully sets.
Yesterday evening we we went to a buffet restaurant where we got to taste lots of different traditional salads and meats along with live traditional music. It was fun and we even had little Moroccan biscuits for dessert!
Day 6

This morning we met a little kitten called Nairobi which is owned by the daughter of our riad manager, a gorgeous little friendly cat who after a few pets headed in to our room to investigate the shower area!

We then visited The Secret Garden which is an absolute oasis in the centre of the Marrakech medina. It was beautifully restored in 2013 and they have great photos and videos that document the restoration and all of the people who worked on it. The attention to detail is incredible and it was great to see the detailed plasterwork up close. It is a calm tranquil place in the middle of the business of city life and I highly recommend a visit.

Dinner was in a practically empty restaurant which is leading us to think that their quiet season is starting now.
We have one full day left and we have lots planned for it!
Day 7

Our last full day in Marrakech started with a visit to the amazing Bacha Coffee in the former Palais Dar el Bacha which is the now the Musee des Confluence. The coffee shop was worth the 40 minute queue before it opened to ensure we got in 3rd! The lines can be really long for it during the day so this is the best way to do it....and it is so good we are planning to go back tomorrow before we head to the airport!

Our 2nd stop of the day was the Koranic school the Medersa Ben Youssef which dates back to the 14th century. Its a stunning building, with a large prayer hall and detail after detail - I am a big fan of the intricate plasterwork.

Day 8 - half day before afternoon flight

We went back to Bacha Coffee!!
We started queuing at 9.05am for a 10am opening. We were first in line with a couple from Sweden immediately joining us in the queue. Definitely worth it!
Then it is straight back to the riad to check out and go to the airport back to Spain
Where we stayed:
Riad Makene Mouchkill - we highliy recommend here.

What was enjoyed most:
Yves St Laurent Home, Gardens & Museum
Bacha Coffee
Maison de Photography
Secret Garden

Practicalities & Advice:
Boarding Cards need to by physically printed.
Additionally your boarding card needs to be stamped by the airline at the check desk - this is even if you are not checking in luggage.
My advice would be to get to the airport very early as there are about 6 steps / checks to go through before you get to the departure gates. Ryanair opens their check in desk 3 hours before the flight and when we arrived at this time, there was already a queue built up.

Sunday 5 May 2024

Biking around Malaga

We brought our bikes with us from Ireland to Spain on the plane in hard cases. They arrived in perfect condition after we checked them in as regular oversize luggage and not as bikes.

When we were leaving Spain back in 2021 we had brought these hard cases for the trip home with the Bromptons, and they really do the job.
They fold up as usual and then fit neatly in. We can even put in out bike bags.
Last time I travelled I had a longer size saddle pole so I had to detach it. However, I had switched out to the standard size pole a little time ago (Penny Farthing Cycles in Dublin were able to supply one for me - see blog here) which meant it fitted this time, just by folding and placing in the box.
Here's a pic of the bike just taken out of the box (below)

And above is Ciaran cycling away after pumping up the tyres.
My bike pictured in front of the apartment entrance where we are staying for the moment
We are cycling around the square where Recyclo Bike Shop are based. This is where I originally bought my Brompton and they generally have a bike pump outside their shop for use by all. 

We have not used our bikes as much as we did when we lived in Malaga back in 2020-2021 which is probbably due to the location of our apartment back at that time. It was just a little bit further to the beach so we cycled there every day, while we are walking at this time. Ciaran is also recovering from his knee injury so cycling any type of distance is really not an option for him.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about bringing a bike on a plane, let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Malaga in May

It's a Bank Holiday here in Malaga......and it's also raining this morning, so it's a good time to get a blog up.

I'm sorry to say that I have been remiss in writing a blog in recent times because in all honesty I am so busy. The days are long here, we get up early and walk to the outdoor exercise gym at the beach. After a workout we take a dip in the sea and then head to a cafe for a coffee. This brings us to about 11am and then when we get home we work until about lunchtime. After lunch it is more computer work and then Ciaran heads to the art studio to work. He is getting on really well in his current art residency and is working towards a showcase of his work at the end of the month (read here for more). And then it very quickly comes to dinner time (we've been eating far later here in Spain than in Ireland) and along with meeting up with friends for coffee, drinks or dinner, the time just goes!!

Here's a few pics of some of the things I've been getting up to....

La Coracha - Where I've been doing outside Bachata classes every Tuesday evening at 7pm
A gorgeous Church all lit up at night time - I took this pic as I walked home from dinner one evening
Weather has been good - I even got to wear my gifted Kate Spade sandals (Thanks Alice!)
A dip in the playa every day sets me up. We go to La Caleta which is past La Malagueta and is less busy
Another pic taken on the way home from dinner - Calle Larios 
And this is a fantastically ethereal shot of the street leading up to where we are currently staying

As I mentioned, today is a Bank Holiday here in Spain, so tonight we have been invited to dinner with friends in a gorgeous restaurant near the Cathedral. It promises to be a special night!

Saturday 20 April 2024

At the Symphonie

 On Friday night we had the most amazing time with a pre-theatre dinner in Ovedoble and then on to Teatro Cervantes for a symphony performance.

Ovedoble is located right next to the Roman ruins. It's very busy as this is the heart of the tourist area in Malaga. However, that doesn't stop this restaurant serving the most creative tapas dishes.  We were a group of 5 and we shared 4 different dishes between us. I love this as it allows you to taste dishes that you may not have ordered if you were only getting one plate of food in front of you.

I only took one picture which was toasted black noodles with Malaga squid. So flavourful and fun to look at too!

And after dinner it was on to Teatro Cervantes to see the Philharmonic Orchestra of Malaga. Nothing in Malaga is a far walk and the theatre was only about 5 minutes away from the restaurant. The symphony was spectacular and the theatre setting is fantastically atmospheric - I'd go back even to just look at the painting on the ceiling of the theatre.

Unfortunately someones phone went off during the performance, and I've never seen this before but on the second time the musicians were put off and stopped playing. The conductor then turned and addressed the audience asking everyone to turn off their phones and then restarted the piece of music that there were in the middle of. Thankfully they were supremely professional and the performance went on without a hitch after that.

Jose Maria Moreno conducted while the soloist was Cello Player Senja Rummukainen with both being  spectacularly good.

Here's a few pics before and after the show.

As we entered, some of the musicians were settling in on stage
A view of the ceiling from the floor beneath where we were sitting
A view of the theatre from the first floor
A The view from my seat. Ciaran was meant to sit beside me but a friend who was sitting at the edge of a row on the other side of the theatre switched out his seat so that Ciaran could stretch his knee out. Space was tight so I don't think he could have actually sat in his assigned seat with his injured leg, so he gratefully accepted the offer of an alternative seat.

Friday 19 April 2024

Cooling down in Malaga

After a week of the most beautiful weather in Malaga, clouds have arrived with lower temperatures. 

We have swam in the sea every morning since we arrived, however it was way to windy and choppy for a swim today. However, we still walked to the beach which is about 20 mins there and then back.

I've been remiss in taking photos as I am trying to have a digital detox and am not bringing my phone with me at all times. So here's a few pics for you, but unfortunately no photos of our favourite lunch spot where we have a small portion of peel and eat Tiger Prawns with a small drink. Ordering the prawns is interesting as you order and pay by the 100 grams - and needs to be done all in Spanish! It was intimidating the first time but now I am fine with it!!

Photos below are in no particular order...

Here's the most amazing cheesecakes that were swerved to us by a friend in her home. She bought 4 different flavours and they were all divine: Chocolate, Original, Bluecheese....and for the life of me I can't remember what the 4th was. But either way they were all great and I will be seeking out the cheesecake shop in Soho that she got them from.

Walking home from dinner a few days ago we passed by the Cathedral. It was dusky so it was the perfect time to take a photo and you can see the moon at the top of the pic.
This photo was taken today and as you can see there is no blue sky, just cloud. I am actually wearing trousers right now to stay warm!
Here's one of my favourite places, Constitution Plaza. It's pedestrianised so am not sure what the car is doing. This square was quite close to where we lived in Malaga in 2020/21.
We visited Recycleo Cafe and Bike Shop and got a great "Solo" coffee. Great location near to where we are currently staying and a good cup of coffee which we are always seeking out in Malaga.
Check this tray of Empanadas out! They were served to us by our friend before she offered the chessecakes above - so so good!! And accompanied by an incredible bottle of champagne. We felt truly spoiled!
Tonight we are going to an orchestral performance in the Teatro Cervantes which is an incredible space and during the week we also visited the Carmen Thysson Museum, so we are getting up to lots of cultural things as well as eating out and going for early morning swims. Ciaran of course is really busy in his Art Residency and then there is lots of meeting up and socialising with friends to be done. 
One other fun thing I did was go to an outdoor "Bachata" dance class. This was a lot of fun dancing in the outdoors was new to me and I got to dance with people from all over including from Greece, Argentina, Bulgaria and Denmark.

So it has been a quick week in Malaga but am looking forward to having lots more great experiences.....and I will do better with the blogging.

Hasta luego!

Sunday 14 April 2024

We made it to Malaga!

We are in Malaga - us and all our 5 bags!!!

After a hectic day of final packing and organizing on Thursday, I was up early on Friday morning (4.30am) to do further work before going to the airport for our 11am flight.

We had planned to get the Blue Aircoach which has a stop that is only a short walk away from our house. However, after adding a last minute extra bag to our booking and given Ciaran's injury we decided a taxi was a better option. Also we were travelling at rush hour so the taxi gave us the option of taking the tunnel to the airport which helped us get there with no delays.

After we got all of our bags checked in (which included 2 fold up bikes in hard cases which needed to be brought to the oversize drop off) and getting through security fairly promptly we were able to relax. First point of order was to have a double espresso from Butlers and then we decided to have a "last drink" in Dublin so went to the bar and ordered beer and bubbles.
I got a little teary as we walked past the old Dublin airport terminal. It felt like such a momentous thing to be saying goodbye to Dublin for a year. But very exciting to see what awaits in Malaga.

When we arrived in Malaga it was so bright!! We had to dip our head as we emerged from the airport. I thought it was just me but when I said it to Ciaran he was in complete agreement.

We got another taxi at this end too - in Spanish we were able to tell the guy directing the taxis that we needed a big taxi because we had so many bags. And then when we got in to the taxi we managed to give directions for where we were going in Spanish too.

And then when we arrived to our AirBnB we discovered (1) it was above our favourite cafe bar Te-Piko but that our favourite coffee shop El Mortal has closed and is now a pub.  Ah well things never stay the same.

It was amazing how quickly we got back in to the swing of things, with Ciaran calling straight to the guys in the gallery and then walking with them to his studio space where he then got the keys. 

And later we went for some tapas in a 2 favourite places, one being Te-Piko followed by an early night by Spanish standards - after a long day for me, I was asleep by 10.30am!!

Here's a few pics of what we ate on our first night and also the view of the plaza from our balcony.