Our friend Drew reached out to us back in the fall and said he'd like to come visit in January--but he also wanted to check out somewhere else in Europe while he was over on our continent. Ara and I had already been planning on checking out somewhere warm in January so we decided to set our sights on Spain! More specifically, the Southern, central coast--Costa del Sol.
We all headed to the Frankfurt airport and boarded our first Ryan Air flight to Malaga, Spain--2 hrs 45 min. later, we arrived to our destination on the Costa del Sol. We would be spending two nights in Malaga and then two nights further east on the coast in Nerja.
We arrived just as the sun went down and took a taxi to the city center of Malaga to check into our Airbnb. We got settled and and decided it was time to wander a bit around the neighborhood and find some tapas. We found ourselves at El Pimpi, about a 5 min. walk from our accommodation. Ara and I had to start out the trip with some mojitos while Drew tried a drink that had wine and sweet sparkling water. We enjoyed sampling several tapas, my favorite was the platter of local cured meats.
The next morning we started out with breakfast at Brunchit Espana. I always look forward to finding a delicious, well-thought out breakfast or brunch spot when we travel--and this place fit the bill! We filled our stomachs up with delicious artisan coffee, fresh squeezed juices and delicious entrees.
After breakfast, we made our way leisurely through the city center to Castillo de Gibralfaro, to see ruins of a Moorish castle fortress high atop Mount Gibralfaro. We meandered up the castle, dating back to the 10th century, taking in views of the port and the city. We also couldn't get over how many orange trees adorned the castle grounds and along the sidewalks everywhere. Turns out, it was prime orange season!
In the evening we took the Malaga Evening Wine & Tapas tour. I have mentioned previously how we have started booking a tour when we travel, usually a local food tour. We love having the opportunity to see the city through the eyes of a local, getting some information we wouldn't find out from a travel book and the biggest perk for us is not having to plan out an evening! We started out the tour at a local tavern tasting a local, sweet wine and had a snack of pickled fish and olives. Next stop led us to an ultramarinos, a small, family-run market that specializes in Iberian ham. We couldn't get enough of the delicious Iberian ham and goat cheese that we sampled at this market. Our third stop, we had two courses at a restaurant that locals flock to for the chef's menu that centers around artichokes. Our final stop was a wine bar, where we could choose our pick of several Spanish wines from the Andalusian area.
The next morning we made a quick breakfast stop for some fresh juice and found ourselves heading to the Mercado Central. Quite a few large European cities have their quintessential fresh market and I never tire of seeing them. There's always such a great array of fresh produce, fish and meats--I could get lost in them for hours just wandering up and down the stalls taking in all the great colors and smells.
Our next stop on the trip was another destination on the Southern coast of Spain, just an hour east, Nerja.