|El Último Mono is a coffee shop that I discovered after I visited the Alcazaba yesterday. The trendy writing on the outside and the hipster-like furnishings inside caught my eye, and I made it a point to come back and check it out this morning. It's really a juice bar and coffee shop, so I had to try both. I got a juicy blend of orange, apple, pear, and grapes, and then to go along with that I also had a cortado. The juice was very refreshing, and the coffee was quite strong. I had a funny moment while ordering my drinks when the barista asked me my name. I've been pronouncing in Spanish, which has been resulting in some interesting spellings of my name (mostly 'Jarel'...close!!), so when I pronounced it this morning, the guy winced and asked me to repeat it, so I just pronounced it how it's really pronounced. His response was "Ahh, Jared Leto!!" Apparently Jared Leto is well known here in Europe, and everyone knows how to pronounce the name. So from now on, I'll just pronounce it correctly. Also, there are two places in El Último Mono where bricks from the wall have been replaced with Lego bricks—that sealed the deal as my favorite café in Europe!!
The last cathedral I was to visit in my Eurotrip was the Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga. As expected, the interior was extremely beautiful and over-the-top. My mom said it best some time back that the Spanish certainly know how to build cathedrals!! And what I love about this cathedral is that it's still in use with daily masses. Could you imagine this being the place where you come for mass!? Or even getting married here? While the outside façade of the cathedral doesn't have the grandeur of the other cathedrals I've visited, the garden areas made up for it. The backside of the cathedral has a really nice area for relaxing on a bench and, of course, for getting some great pictures.
My next stop was just a few minutes away from the cathedral—the Picasso Museum. For 10 € I was allowed entrance into the main exhibits as well as the temporary exhibit, which were sculptures and paintings by Louise Bourgeois (the giant, creepy spider you see here is one of her sculptures). An audioguide came with the museum tour (in Spanish), and while I've opted out of audioguides at most museums I've been to, I decided to learn as much about Picasso as I could. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take pictures of any of the paintings, but I can tell you that the majority of the paintings were very impressive. What I really enjoyed about the audioguide experience is that there were audio clips of Picasso himself talking about his perspectives on art and how he paints, and he mentioned that he doesn't see a face straight on as we see it, but rather that he can see how it exists in different angles and planes, which is why a lot of his paintings are as abstract as they are. I also found it really intriguing that he was painting even in the last year of his life, even up until the day before he died. I spoke with a museum worker to ask about the year in which he died (born in 1881, which I knew since that's 100 years before my birth year), and she told me 1973. I then looked over at a painting I was just admiring and said "So this painting here was in his last year!?" She replied "It was his last one." Amazing.
The temporary exhibit of Louise Bourgeois was...interesting. I started the exhibit by seeing a photostory of her life, showing her as a very young child and aging through the years until around the time of her death in 2010. I had never heard of her before until today, but apparently she has some sculptures in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Her art is at times confusing, and at times it's rather frightening. I tried not to understand what I was looking at too much, but I do appreciate how creative she was with materials, especially the pieces in which she had sewn fabrics together to form a human head or body. Here's a link to some information about Louise, if you're interested.
After the museum I treated myself to a shawarma, which I first had during my trip to Granada and haven't been able to stop thinking about since. I made a mental note of a shawarma restaurant as I passed by it yesterday and knew it would be my lunch today. Luckily, it's very close to my apartment, so finding it wasn't too difficult. I had a really pleasant conversation with the woman there about the shawarma I had in Granada and how I feel in love with it. She proceeded to tell me that the shawarma at her restaurant are very different, and then she asked me where I'm from. I told her the United States, and she was curious as to whether or not there are shawarmas in the U.S. I told her I had investigated a little bit and that there is one in Indianapolis, and that I don't know if it will be good or not. She guessed that it wouldn't be the same because it's not as authentic as what she makes here in her store. She may be right about that, and believe me I'm going to find the best shawarmas in the tri-state area. Her word was true, because her shawarma was absolutely delicious. Every bite was unreal, and all I kept thinking about was how it topped the one in Granada. I'm glad I decided to stop there for lunch!
The beach. I had to take another trip to the beach before my time here in Málaga ends. La Malagueta is a popular beach located fairly close to where I'm staying. It was a short twenty minute walk and there I was, walking in sand. Which, by the way, IS INCREDIBLY HOT. I did not anticipate the sand to scorch my feet as it did, and I thought I could be a man about it and just deal with it, but it was literally burning the bottoms of my feet. I quickened my pace to reach the water, which felt a lot better on my feet. Lesson learned, for sure. It wasn't my intention to swim in the sea, because I didn't know where I'd put my items while I was swimming, and I didn't want to risk someone taking them while I was out in the water. I didn't take much with me, just my phone and some coins, and I was perfectly content with just walking through the water. It was your typical beach though—people swimming, tanning, eating, gossiping, fishing, throwing jellyfish, wading, etc. I sat in the sand for a while and enjoyed it all. I don't get to go to the beach much, so I made sure to take it all in while I was there.
I've really enjoyed my time here in Málaga. I wasn't sure at first if I had made the right decision in coming, since the Running of the Bulls is currently going on in Pamplona, but that would have been thousands of people and outrageous prices, and I wanted something calming before heading back to the States. As I look back on what I've done the past few days, I'd say I accomplished that!