I went to Malaga again this past Friday and Saturday with three other people in my study abroad program. We took a 2.5-3 hour bus ride from Sevilla to Malaga and when we arrived it was nearly 11 pm. I had called Hostel Derby from the bus in order to make a reservation, but it was really hard to understand what he was trying to say (turns out he was Russian and barely spoke Spanish) and I was worried that we wouldn’t have rooms when we got there. Thankfully the hostel ended up being absolutely wonderful: centrally located, spacious, and very nicely decorated. I highly recommend it if you’re going to Malaga.
So now that we were in Malaga and the hostel situation was figured out I decided it was time for us to hit up some food. The vegetarian place I had planned on would most likely be closed since it was nearly midnight so instead we walked over to the main street to check out some tapas bars. I happened to spot one that was recommended in our guidebooks, Gorki’s, and since it looked pretty lively we decided to try it out. We sat around for 15 minutes or so poring over our menus and trying to decipher the meanings of numerous Spanish words. Finally we were all set to order when the waiter approached us and said “kitchen closed.” I was sitting with my mouth agape with the dreadful sensation of my empty stomach hitting the floor in disbelief. Once we gathered our wits we thanked him and were all ready to walk away when one of our companions said, “SIT DOWN! We are NOT going anywhere!” He had noticed that several groups of people around us were ordering food and since they all appeared to be Spaniards it seemed like a case of discrimination. We were quite rightfully angry at this treatment and so I called over another waiter and inquired if it was possible to order. He looked at me like I was crazy and said of course. We were taken aback by this and so ordered in a rather hurried manner, not realizing we only ordered 2 large tapas for 4 people. It turns out that what the first waiter had meant to say was that the kitchen was closing shortly and that we should order right then. A simple case of not hearing enough of what he was trying to explain in Spanish and then him, thinking we didn’t speak sufficient Spanish to understand, trying to translate into English as well as he could.
We ate our rather delicious, if somewhat small, meal and then since the others wanted to make an early morning of it, we headed back to the hostel. Unfortunately, I was still starving and the only place open near us was a McDonald’s. Despite this we went inside and ordered some food. Now, in my defense, this was only the second or third time I had had McDonald’s or anything like it since coming to Spain over two months ago. Thereafter, we went to the hostel to get some rest. Eventually we actually did get to sleep and then awoke fairly early in the morning around 8:30 or so. They let us leave our bags in the hostel for the day and we went out to tour the city. First up, we grabbed some breakfast at a nearby cafe and then hit up the Alcazaba. It was ridiculous fun and a very gorgeous monument to visit.
Since I had been to Malaga previously I left them with an itinerary for the Castillo, Picasso Museum and Cathedral with plans to meet up for lunch at 3 pm while I grabbed a taxi to the botanical gardens (I had just missed the hourly bus and didn’t feel like waiting around). The botanical gardens were undergoing renovations so I got in for free and spent the next 2 or 3 hours checking out the grounds. It was amazing fun to wander along the paths and check out trees and plants from all over the world. Seeing plants from Madagascar next to those from South America and Asia was absolutely fascinating. One path was called “Around the World in 80 Trees” and it was great to compare and contrast the types of trees in different parts of the world. There was also a great lookout point where I could see the entire city of Malaga spread out before me. It was a lot of fun and I wish I had had more time to enjoy it. There was an entire forest route that I didn’t have time to check out.
Once I realized I was running short on time I hurried to the ticket office to inquire where the bus stations were located since I had gotten there by taxi instead. The attendant told me that the bus would stop right in front of the gardens, but unfortunately the time I wanted to leave (2:30 pm) was the one hour in which the bus didn’t come. Once I absorbed this unwelcome surprise, I asked her how I could arrive back at the city. She told me that there was a bus stop only 10-15 minutes away. However, once I asked her for directions my Spanish quickly became insufficient to understand her response and I was left completely bewildered. Despite that struggle, I decided to go off on my way and with numerous offers of rides from rather shady youngsters I walked along the highway until I arrived at the stop. Now there was a younger man sitting at the stop and he obviously had been there for a little bit as he was in the midst of eating some fruit and reading a book. The bus, according to the schedule, should have arrived every 15 minutes so I figured it would stop by soon. After about 10 minutes of waiting, the man gets up and leaves. Now I’m wondering what on earth is going on and rather worried about this whole bus thing since it’s nearly 2:30 pm and I have to meet everyone at the hostel at 3 for lunch. Thankfully after another 10 minutes of waiting the bus arrives. Despite some confusion because I fell asleep and once I got off I wandered in some random direction after some strange woman I arrive safely at the hostel with a few minutes to spare which I whiled away by being harassed by some drunkards. Once we reunited and got our bags we headed off to a nearby vegetarian restaurant where we once again tried to figure out what we were ordering. This time we were rather mistaken, but it was rather good so no harm done. The only things left to this adventure were the bus ride back to Sevillan and some silliness.