Madrid to Malaga 

Madrid trains
Caught a cercianas train today, first time intentionally. A major metro line is being upgraded so you can walk to the big central station or, catch a cercianas train, one that does the centre and regional towns. 

Seeing the numbers of people pouring through the Sol cercianas station to work in the Madrid cbd, coming from outer areas was astounding. It was 08:59 so I guess they started work at 9 or 09:30. 

I arrived at Atocha, the big central point for all three types of trains (metro, cercianas, RENFE) two hours early. Not bad as I have a fear of missing fixed times. Always did but it’s getting worse. I imagine trying to ask for a refund in Spanish on an electronic ticket. Helps drive me there!

Lines for different places can be long.

And in the spirit of people wearing funny costumes I found a different one again.

Oh dear. A beggar was doing her rounds in the cafe as I was having coffee. Most people don’t give. She was really in your face and I didn’t give to her. I did give €€ to a very dishevelled person yesterday who wasn’t begging but was dragging her/his possessions. Thought it was a woman, her voice suggested otherwise. I gave a ridiculous amount as her plight resonated. No obvious reason why i felt compelled in that case. Just did.


Madrid Atocha REFE train station so, security. Not sure what they look for as I have walking poles and a pocket knife in my pack and it all went through the machine.

And the new iOS, ios10, is wonderful for showing train tickets. Much improved compared to ios9. 

I travelled facing forwards on the train, and on the window side. Great. I did apologise to my neighbour as I unlaced my shoes but it was ok. They will smell worse soon.

The first stop was Córdoba, under an hour from there to Malaga, in a train with a speed of over 200km/hr, and days on foot. 

Lots of dry, hilly, land covered in olive trees where the camino must be. Must be better than the floods and cold, and later sleet, snow and rain on my first camino in Spain, the Via de la Plata from Sevilla. Won’t have too many fellow travellers, as the Camino Frances does and I hope won’t it feel as endless as the Camino Levante. My two Levante sections, at different times, were very hard, endlessly boring, empty in places and windy. 

Still sorry three nights in Malaga wasn’t possible this time. However I’m getting excited about starting. A little nervous too as I know this one isn’t easy, some steep climbs and it’s warm, the end of summer. Sun rise is about 08:00 but it’s light earlier so I plan to leave then, when it’s cooler. 

First look at Malaga 
Looks summery, is about 30C at 15:00. Smells like some beaches with a rotting smell near the station and in parts of the old town. 

My apartment is very nice. If I had friends it would be cheap and nice. 😋 Lift opens, with key, directly into the apartment. No separate entrance door. Two bedrooms, both nice. I had to pay a security deposit of €150 I hadn’t expected it and didn’t know how my debit card would handle it, probably change it into $. So, cash and they will return my cash at 07:00 on Saturday, when I figure it’s near daylight and about time to start walking. So, not a problem. 

Come 16:00 and I was ready for lunch. The apartment rental guy recommended a nearby, unprepossessing looking vegetarian restaurant, El Calafate. Looked ok. Interesting food, nice. 

Very busy for a late Thursday lunch. Now to see a bit of this area.

Describe the inner city? Narrow streets full of small cafes, restaurants and other purveyors of food. I have never ever seen such a density of shops designed for a tourist market. Never, not even in …. no, nowhere else. 

A number of corner houses have a very distinctive rounding at that point.

I found an interesting statue, a guy so sharp and angular.

Dogs seem to be a feature. The woman I asked about their importance in Malaga said it’s just that people here like dogs. I suspect there’s more to it given the very distinctive shape of their heads.

A Roman amphitheatre last used for entertainment in 3rd century is one one edge of the tourist area. Looks reconstructed, like the coliseum and most structures from the Roman period but, I like it. 

On Friday I visited the Gibralfaro Castle and the Alcazaba that are visible above and behind the amphitheatre.

Auspicious start to camino

Im feeling better today about accommodation on the camino mozarabe. One website I have gives enough details. No map but phone numbers and route descriptions and, my Spanish is just good enough to read it.

A woman in the cathedral shop sent me into the cathedral when I asked for a stamp in my pilgrim’s passport. She said it opened at 10:00. I managed to get security to find someone to do it then and there.  Looks a bit impressive, taking up a space designed for two stamps. 

So, for for the first time I have a stamp from the cathedral at my starting point. And an impressive cathedral it is. Huge soaring columns supporting a cupola within and at least one chapel to the side. Outside, with some pinkish marble in parts of the facade, it is equally impressive. 

The facade on one side was incredibly degraded. I’m assuming it’s the original, or near original, part.

All part of the Freddy and Isabella empire, apparently initiated by them after their army defeated the arabs ensconced here in Malaga. It took a three month siege of the castle, the Gibralfaro, and they starved them out in the end.

The Alcazaba is impressive.

 So clearly Arab inspired with its effective use of water in fountains and small streams throughout, 

small treed courtyards,

the distinctive doorways and, 

an entrance that doubles back on itself to slow any invaders who got in. 

I love the use of trees. These are clearly recent with the preponderance of gum trees throughout the Alacaba and Gibralfaro. Hmmm, yes. A few palms.

Climb up behind the Alcazaba to the hill towering over the city to the Gibralfaro.

This site has been fortified for nearly 1,000 years BCE, possibly initially by the Phoenicians.  Reminds me, not surprisingly, of Cadiz a little further west of here with its extended history of trading.

At least one squirrel lives here. Getting a drink with all the tourists around is complex.

Now the best bits from the Gibralfaro are the views down over Malaga (cathedral being very central),


to the port, 

and over to the hills to the north and north west etc. 

The port looks busy, the cathedral impressive and the distant hills I’ll walk through, intimidating, even through the morning’s haze.

And, as we are in Andalucía, not to forget the ubiquitous bullring! Looks huge here. 


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