Spanish Sunshine, Cubed
Just two and a half hours by train from capital Madrid, Malaga is a sub-tropical respite from the frenetic capital and the gateway to the beachy playground known as the Costa del Sol. With over a half million people, Malaga doesn't exclusively depend on Europeans seeking sunshine. This is a bustling, coastal commercial center that has many museums and monuments – including two dedicated to Malaga's most celebrated hijo.
Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso – and is on display at the Casa Natal. Located on the Plaza del la Merced in the heart of the historic center, exhibition rooms detail his early years at this home built by his father. In 1998, the historical building was taken over by the Picasso Foundation and was officially re-opened by the King and Queen of Spain. The home includes personal family mementos, prints and ceramics, a library and research center.
The area surrounding the birthplace is encircled by other Malaga monuments, like the 11th century Alcazaba. This Moorish fortification created for the King of Granada is the best-preserved alcazar, or "citadel," in Spain. Next to the entrance are the ruins of the Roman Theater, dating to the 1st century. Today, excavations are being carried out to discover more Roman relics.
If you want a great overview of the city before, perhaps, setting off for the beach, the Malaga City Sightseeing Tour will be worth your while. With 15 stops, hop-on and off this open-air double decker bus at will. If the warm Spanish sun is shining, you may just want to work on your tan from the top deck.
Check out the incredible view from the Gibralfaro Castle, built by a Cordoban emir in the 8th century. Visit the 16th century cathedral, affectionately referred to as, La Manquita – or loosely interpreted as "one armed woman." Head to the newer Picasso Museum with 12 halls of permanent galleries including sketches, ceramics and paintings. Stroll on the Calle de Larios, a pedestrian street noted for its unique marbled patterns. The shops and restaurants here stay open until the wee hours – perfect for that midnight tapas snack.
Ready to hit the beach? All the playas are an easy cab or bus ride from the city center: La Malagueta, Pedregalejo, Midericordia are where the locals come to relax and play. With a Eurail Spain Rail 'n Drive Pass, you could drive along the coasts, stopping at your own spits of sand. Just west you'll find the exclusive beach towns of Marbella and Puerto Banus, where you may find Antonio Banderas hanging out on a yacht dock.
Thanks to the high-speed AVE and RENFE trains, you can also easily reach Andalucia. See the Mezquita of Cordova in just one hour. Dance with castanets in Seville in two hours.
See the sights, then head south to Spain's sol. Warm and inviting, historic and artistic, there's no chance Picasso's Blue Period could be created here, unless of course, his eyes were toward the sky.
Contributed by: Jean, Business Development; “The only way of catching a train I ever discovered is to miss the train before.” G.K. Chesterton