Each of these beautiful coastal cities likely deserves it’s own post, but since our behavior in each was so similar I worry that folks might get confused about which one they are reading!
We made port in Málaga on the Thursday of Easter week and were warned to be aware of an Easter Procession that might impact how long it would take to make it back. The main procession was scheduled for 5 pm, but folks were already lining up near the port at 9 am, many of the main roads were closed and people were pouring in to the city center as Dan and I began our meandering exploration. We spotted a castle high on a hill overlooking town and headed that direction.
The city was bustling and had a very holiday vibe, even early in the day. We continued to climb on a nicely laid out path with several good places to stop and “enjoy the view” (take a break from the climbing). As we neared the top, we heard a marching band from below and noticed a grouping of boats near where the crowd had been gathering earlier. The many trees lining in the park that went along side the main street kept us from seeing the parade, but is was well attended!
We arrived at the end of the trail and the signs said the castle was a twenty minute climb up the hill. Dan joked that we’d already made a big climb, so we might as well buy the combination ticket to see both the fort and the castle! We spent a fun 40 minutes or so poking around the stone fortifications, parade grounds and in the big hall looking at the armor and uniforms. We also took advantage of the small cafe to enjoy a really good lunch of a queso bocadillo, a small baguette type loaf of really good bread and delicious cheese melted on it.
After out lunch we felt energized enough to head the 20 minutes up hill to the castle! We started looking for the path to take, but it wasn’t very well marked. I took my little tourist map over to the security guard and asked how to get to the castle. She gave me a strange look and I was worried I might have to try in Spanish which wasn’t going to be much of an improvement. Then she pointed down the hill and said we should tour the fort next. Yep, we had no clue which big stone structure was which!
Back down the path we went. Sure was a lot easier than we anticipated! The fort was right in town, surrounded by a bustling neighborhood and overlooking a Roman Theatre archeological site. The Fort actually seemed a bit fancier and more livable than the castle.
During the day we heard and saw a few parrots, including several flying by with branches which seemed pretty big-the nests must be impressive!
Alicante – another hilly walk up to the castle!
We landed in Alicante on Good Friday and there was going to be some big to do at the Cathedral, but apparently no traffic impacting processions.
From the port we could see a hilltop fortification and Dan has a theory about forts which means we usually visit. They always have a good view. So off we went to find a way up the hill. Walking along the beach we saw a large queue of folks taking over the sidewalk near where we thought the path began. Ugh, maybe the castle/fort is too popular. As we approached we found out it was to take the elevators to the castle. We put on our intrepid attitudes and kept walking.
We followed some steep and winding streets, saw some stairs and a few other other tourists obviously trying to do the same as us. Finally one of the other folks started up the steps as if they knew the way so, with a shrug, we followed. The city has a nice park that is really just a well structured path with various plazas and resting places at the switchbacks that delivers you to the castle.
The castle was very crowded, but Dan was right, the views were amazing! There were several buildings still standing and the walls were still very protective!
As we worked our way back to the ship we ran in to a couple from Cornwall in the UK. As we stood chatting they mentioned they had made their way up to the castle the day before. They also had a crowd and the gentleman admitted that he had had his pocket picked while there. He had a good attitude about it though, he had lost some cash and had to cancel a credit card, but he “could still buy a drink” with the Euros left in his pocket. They also recommended the converted convent where they were staying and hoped we got as good a room as they did if we made it back there. Just another one of those lovely, random interactions that add something special to your travels.