Denise did not have a good night at our hotel last night. The little mini fridge in her room kept whistling at her and was not turn-off-able. She was in a corner room directly opposite the lift and the stairs and there were comings and goings all night. Then, as dawn cracked the sky open, the cleaners started, their cupboard being just across the hall. We think it was because she was in room 101…which will only really mean anything to certain readers.
Our room, on the other hand and apart from a singular lack of extra pillow height, was perfect. We slept the sleep of the innocent, unhampered by any interruptions.
Bright and fresh (some of us) we headed out into Malaga. We wouldn’t normally spend any time in Malaga but our flights didn’t leave until late so we left our bags at the hotel and decided to try the much lauded sights.
‘Much lauded’ because Malaga wants to change its reputation and is pushing the best things it has to offer. One of those things is art. And so, today was spent in the contemplation of various types of art.
One can’t cross the river without noticing the glorious murals painted alongside the rather smelly dry section. It was so smelly, in fact that, complete with lovers smooching on the bank, Mirinda and I suddenly realised where we’d smelled it before. Venice.
The tall building that doesn’t look quite real at the right of the photo above is a hotel under construction. As we were returning to our hotel, we saw this guy stop at a pedestrian crossing and take a selfie with his finger pointing towards it. I reckon he designed it.
I’m not sure who designed the caterpillar below but it sure brightens up the place. Of course it doesn’t lessen the scent but then nothing really can. (It does make me wonder what happened when St Marks Square flooded recently. I don’t think I’d like sewerage around my knees thank you very much. Still, some people like strange stuff.)
But, back in Malaga…
The two pieces above, of course, do not really qualify as ‘art’ for whatever reason. (When I asked Mirinda and Denise what constituted ‘art’ I was told it had to be pretty. Pretty what? I’m not sure.) However, we next went to the Malaga Art Gallery of Contemporary Art. This was as a special treat for me. Which was actually quite good because I was the only one who really enjoyed it.
As well as pieces from the permanent collection, there was an exhibition of new works by American artist Hernan Bas. I’d never heard of him before today. I was rather taken with his bold, slash-y style of painting. His moody boys and ancient landscapes were all quite moving.
The picture below is possibly my favourite given it’s delightfully satirical.
Moving through the gallery I think Denise lasted about ten minutes then encamped herself in the cafe and waited for us. She was particularly annoyed by one picture which featured an upside down bull with an octopus on its rear end.
There were quite a few pieces I really liked but, obviously, can only include a few here. So, in the interests of anyone reading this who, like Denise, has definite ideas about what art should be, this will be the last from the Museum of Contemporary Art.
This piece is called Souffles dans le verre (Blown glass) and is by a Belgian artist, Michel Francois. Again, I think it’s meant to be humorous. The silver things suspended from the ceiling look like the inserts from wine boxes. The whole thing seems to make the heavy seem light. It is also beautiful, full of curves, hugging and tactile. It made me feel happy looking at it.
Anyway, enough modern art because we were off to the cathedral where the modernest thing dates from about the 16th century. (That’s not exactly true but I thought it made a nice line.)
Actually the cathedral is built atop the original mosque that was there before Isabella the Psychopath decided that Spain would be Rabid Christian (or Roman Catholic as it’s sometimes called). The only remaining evidence above ground of the original building is the garden outside. The rest of the place is strictly not Islamic.
There’s lots of images of people for one thing and not a lot of the swirly ‘All praise Allah’ in Arabic making pretty patterns type of decoration. In fact, it occurs to me that the Muslim things we’ve seen are always bright and cheery whereas the Christian stuff tends towards the dark and gloomy.
The Christian God also features a lot more blood and dire consequences. I mean look at what’s happening in this sculpture.
I don’t know what it means but there’s a few of these strange tableaux dotted around the cathedral for the less than godly among us to admire and fear. (Actually the guy on the left looks weirdly like my old boss Cowabunga.)
The cathedral is pretty impressive and features both St Sebastien and St Roches in various poses around the place. There’s also a lot of other saints (obviously) but we couldn’t find either St Justa or St Refina which have become Denise’s Saints of Choice. A pity because they are generally everywhere.
The thing I found most disturbing in the cathedral (not that I found anything else particularly disturbing) was the little place for quiet prayer and contemplation. There was a chap kneeling in the first row of prayer chairs, facing one of the numerous statues of Mary, having a little pray while all around him tourists listened to their audioguides and snapped away with their cameras. I felt very sorry for him, particularly when I think of the lovely little corner in the Sagrada Familia which is sectioned off completely from the tourists for a bit of silent contemplation.
Needless to say I didn’t take a photo of him.
Before going into the cathedral we’d had lunch then wandered up to a little lane where artists and a guitarist were situated. One guy stands and paints these amazing little oil paintings in three minutes as you stand and watch. Both Mirinda and Denise bought one. Amazing.
He paints it with his fingers, dipping them into paint and smearing it onto the glass until a picture miraculously emerges. It’s extraordinary.
I also posed with a giant hand that, rather than end in a thumb, ended in a dove. Like this:
And, of course, no day in Spain would be complete without an ice cream. Mind you, I think Denise went a bit overboard with hers.
We then slowly strolled back to the hotel having spent an unexpectedly lovely day in Malaga. Then the rot set in.
The taxi to the airport was fine and we arrived with two hours before take off. There were very long queues at the check-in desks which were not yet open so that was fine. We took up a spot and sent Mirinda off to read her book while we waited.
Eventually the queue started very slowly moving forward. When I say slowly I mean it crawled. Actually a crawl would be considered quite speedy when compared with our journey to the desks.
Most of the problem appeared to be with people trying to take mountain bikes to the UK. This could have been solved by having an oversized check-in section but that doesn’t seem to be an option at Malaga airport so we waited.
Eventually we checked-in (very quickly) and headed for security. This, again, was subject to some annoying hold-up. Mostly because of a very hairy guy who needed to be checked for all manner of explosive devices which were not concealed about his person. I really wanted him to be searched by the world’s smallest security guard (the only dwarf we saw all trip) but a regular one did the honours.
The luggage coming through the detector, x-ray machine was backing up as the big guy was put through numerous tests. Eventually Denise helped clear the baby buggy and various other bits and pieces ahead of our stuff and we walked free. The big guy was still there as we left.
There was no time to sit and brood because we had to get to our gate given our flight had already started boarding. Naturally it was about 36 miles away. And, equally naturally, Mirinda had to join the longest queue at the airport in order to buy a bottle of water.
As Denise and I waited at the customs border, I realised that Mirinda wasn’t with us. Telling the woman at the gate that I’d lost my wife, I doubled back to find her. I found her and we made our way to the non-automated passport gates (because she’s an Australian) and, finally found a toilet.
The two things that Mirinda always needs before she boards a plane are water and a toilet. If you ask me the two things could easily be dropped as one clearly causes the other. Still…anything for an easy life.
While I was waiting outside the ladies, determined not to let her out of my sight again, a woman came by and asked me if I’d managed to find my wife. I said yes, but she was now in the toilet. She was greatly relieved. Both Mirinda and the woman.
Finally we reached the gate to find that they were only boarding Groups 1, 2 and 3. As usual we were Group 4 and could sit and wait for about five minutes before joining the same queue that hadn’t actually moved in the five minutes we were sitting for. Interestingly we discovered that there’s also a Group 5. God alone knows what they did wrong to be last on the plane but at least they’re after us.
We all crammed onto the plane (another full one) and, eventually flew away to London where we sat on the tarmac waiting for a fleet of buses to take us to the terminal. This took a long, long time.
We then met Carol and she took us home.
And so our Spanish holiday ended with a cup of tea in the extension, warm tiles keeping our toes from freezing.
Here’s a short video I took in the lane where the painter was working.
Postscript: In the last few days we didn’t see hide nor hair of Polly and Dennis. I can only hope they reached home safely with their marriage intact.