Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis & space invaders in Málaga

A short 20-minute train ride away from Torremolinos, we find ourselves wandering around the larger city of Málaga anytime we need a change of scenery.

We happened upon a free photography exhibit in Plaza de la Constitución, right in the city centre. This exhibit included photos from Sebastião Salgado’s most recent black and white photography project, Genesis, which he describes as his “love letter to the planet.”

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Sebastião Salgado’s photos give us a new vision of our home. His photos compel us to think carefully about our impact on the environment, as well as motivate us to take real steps to protect the people, plants, and animals that inhabit this planet.

I had not known of Sebastião Salgado prior to this exhibit. To be honest, I didn’t look into the photographer’s name while I admired the photos. I simply took note of the exhibit’s name and hoped to look into it another time.

It wasn’t until later that day when a friend on Facebook shared a TED article about the Genesis project that I realised how lucky we were to have experienced Sebastião Salgado’s photos in person.

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Photographing other photos doesn’t make much sense to me, since photos are best seen in person, through your own eyes. I only took these photos to show you what the exhibit looked like since the rusted metal frames were pretty cool, and I couldn’t pass up this cute dachshund. 😉 Check out this gallery to see more of Sebastião Salgado’s photos in greater detail.

You can watch his inspiring Ted Talk here:

Besides pop-up photography exhibits, Málaga is home to several art spaces and museums, including the Picasso Museum and the Contemporary Art Centre, to name a few. (The Picasso Museum is free to the public on the last Sunday of every month and the CAC is free anytime it’s open.)

You’ll also come across plenty of art in the streets.

No disrespect to murals, but they don’t interest me as much as Invader’s mosaic tile installations. Invader is a prolific contemporary street artist who travels the world, invading cities with his colourful mosaic tile pieces. At this time, he’s graced 72 cities across the globe with his presence.

Luckily, we arrived in the Costa del Sol just after his first invasion of Málaga which took place in May 2017.

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His tile mosaic installations are also known as invaders, and according to Invader’s website, 29 exist in Málaga. We’ve only come across seven, one of which I haven’t photographed since I was filming a vlog. I’d like to photograph all 29 invaders but who knows if we can find them all!

Málaga is the second largest city in Andalucia, with Seville being the first. We have our work cut out for us with this invader hunt. Can you guess where we’ll be this weekend? 😉

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Río Chillar hike in Nerja, Spain

Searching online for free activities is one of the first things I do when living in a new location. Researching free things to do is as simple as asking Google. I came across several helpful blog posts on the Spain-Holiday.com website that suggested free activities in Málaga and the rest of the Costa del Sol.

Special thanks to my husband Kuba for these photos of our hike. Check out his Instagram account @roaming_kuba for more stunning photos of our travels.

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One free activity recommended was walking up the Rio Chillar in Nerja. Immediately, I was interested since this hike would require us to walk through the river’s cool water: a perfect hike for a hot summer day! It was also labelled as family-friendly, meaning it couldn’t be too strenuous of a hike if children can handle it.

Hiking is a free activity that Kuba and I both enjoy, as we get to spend time outside in the fresh air while filming and photographing. Not only is hiking good exercise, but it allows us to explore new areas outside of the city space.

Nerja is another coastal resort town (similar to Torremolinos, but smaller) located east of Málaga. To get to Nerja from Torremolinos, we took a short train ride to Málaga and then a bus to Nerja. I purchased our bus tickets on the Alsa website in advance.

The bus ride to Nerja only took an hour. After being dropped off in the city centre, we popped into a nearby Mercadona for some cherries before heading toward the trail head. In addition to cherries, we had plenty of other food to sustain us during the hike: corn cakes, cookies, crackers, and even little containers of brown rice which I had cooked that morning.

Walking to the trailhead from the city centre only took us 25 minutes. The first part of the hike isn’t so exciting as you’re walking through a dry river bed in the full sun. Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before the water forced us to change into our sandals.

The best parts of this hike were splashing through the cool, clear water in the shade and winding through rock formations carved out by the river. The sound of water rushing over the rocks was a welcome change to the bustling city noises we hear every day.

We decided to turn around before reaching the waterfalls and headed back to the city. Walking through the river wasn’t as easy as a normal hike since we had to take care with every step. Wearing my thin Xero Shoes sandals was nice because my feet were immersed in water for most of the hike, yet the soles are quite thin. My feet were sore from negotiating the slippery rocks underfoot.

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We were exhausted by the time we returned to the city centre (we walked 12 miles total that day!) and had to wait a few hours for our bus back to Málaga. We relaxed in near the Balcón de Europa and ate the rest of our snacks. We didn’t find much in Nerja that interested us, probably because we were so tired after our hike. We also couldn’t find any public toilets there besides one at the main bus stop. Just be aware of that if you end up visiting Nerja.

Do check out this easy hike! It was relaxing to walk through water in the heat of the day. Most of the hike is shaded as well. Just remember to bring comfortable sandals or light shoes to wear. Flip flops won’t work as the water will sweep them away. Also, I recommend walking it during the week since it wasn’t busy at all. I imagine it would be packed on the weekends, and less enjoyable.

This was an affordable day trip for us since it only cost €26.60 total for transportation to and from Torremolinos. Our roundtrip bus tickets cost €18.40 and our train tickets cost €8.20 overall. For a full day of hiking through a river and a bit of exploring Nerja, I’ll take it!

This was our second hike since we arrived in Torremolinos and it definitely won’t be our last. 🙂

If you’d like to see more of our hike, check out our vlogs from that day:

Have you visited Nerja?

What do you think about hiking through a river?

Alcazaba & Castillo de Gibralfaro

Last Sunday we decided to tour Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro, two massive Moorish fortresses located in Málaga. We heard that these offer the best views of the city so we couldn’t pass it up.

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Sunday is the best day to visit these sites as entry is free Sundays after 14:00. Otherwise, you need to pay €3,5 for a combined ticket to visit both.

Alcazaba is located right in the city centre and Casillo de Gibralfaro further up the hill. Entering Alcazaba is easy but once inside, the path becomes a little confusing. We wandered from section to section on our own time, taking in the views of the city as well as checking out artefacts and exhibits related to the castle.

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Here’s a brief summary of Alcazaba’s history according to Andalucia.com:

Constructed on the ruins of a Roman fortification during the reign of Abd-al-Rahman I, the first Emir of Cordoba, in around 756-780AD, the Alcazaba’s original purpose was as a defence against pirates, thanks its commanding position with views over the city, down to the sea and across to Africa.

The fortress was rebuilt by the Sultan of Granada, Badis Al-Ziri, from 1057-1063AD, while the fortified double walls that connect the Alcazaba to the neighbouring Castillo de Gibralfaro, over the Coracha ridge, were built by the Nasrid ruler Yusuf I in the 14th century, when most of the inner palace was also refurbished. As a palace, it was home to a number of Moorish rulers.

The Alcazaba has a distinct feel from its more famous, younger neighbours, the Alcazar of Sevilla and the Alhambra of Granada. It was already three centuries old when the others were build. After the reconquest, it fell into decay until restoration work began in 1933, and continues slowly today. Two of its original three walls remain, as well as over 100 towers and three palaces.

The views of the city and port below are stunning at Alcazaba but the view becomes even more impressive the higher you climb. The walk from Alcazaba up the hill to Castillo de Gibralfaro was quite the workout because of the steep incline, but totally worth it in the end.

Here’s some background on Castillo de Gibralfaro, also from Andalucia.com:

The castle was built in 929AD by Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliph of Cordoba, on a former Phoenician enclosure and lighthouse, from which its name was derived – gebel-faro (Arabic and Greek, meaning rock of the lighthouse). Yusef 1, Sultan of Granada, enlarged it at the beginning of the 14th century, also adding the double wall down to the Alcazaba.

The castle is famous for its three-month siege by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, which ended only when hunger forced the Malagueños to surrender. Afterwards Ferdinand occupied the site, while his queen took up residence in the town. Interesting historic fact: this was the first conflict in which gunpowder was used by both sides.

Neither castle was overly busy even though entry was free. Both had cafés and toilets inside, and plenty of shady places to rest.

It’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a direct path from the inside of Alcazaba to the other Castillo. After several failed attempts to find our way to Castillo de Gibralfaro, we had to exit Alcazaba completely and follow the signs directing us up the hill.

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After visiting both castles, we figured we’d wander around the city centre a bit and find something to eat. However, we forgot that nearly all grocery stores are closed on Sundays, so we had trouble finding any open shop selling fruit or anything remotely healthy. Restaurants were open but we didn’t want to eat out. (It’s too expensive for the amount of food received, plus we were craving sweet juicy fruit.) We spent an hour or so walking through the city thanks to incorrect opening hours on Google Maps. 😛 In the end, we found a Carrefour Express that happened to be open, but it didn’t have much in the way of fruit so we settled on some fruit juice instead.

Now we know to bring food with us if we plan to be away from our flat on a Sunday. At least we had a nice walking tour of Málaga. We even found more Invader! 🙂

Feel free to check out my vlog if you’d like to see more of Alcazaba and Castillo de Gibralfaro. 🙂