Paco lives in Madrid but was born in Málaga, a beach town in the southern province of Andalucia. He planned a weekend trip with some friends, myself included, to celebrate his 25th birthday down in his home turf. I left Friday afternoon on the AV (alta-velocidad, high-speed) train and arrived in 2.5 hours. Some others took the bus which took a grueling 6.5 hours. Since I was the first to arrive at the hostel, I mingled with some other travelers and met a nice Argentine fellow, Nico, and an older Welsh man, Andrew. The hostel was one of the best I've stayed at, with good prices, comfortable beds and hot showers. It had a very Andaluz vibe, comfy ottomans and sofas and colorful walls and rich tapestries. A total of eight of us, including Paco, traveled down from Madrid. Four stayed at Paco's parents house and the rest of us in the city center at this hostel.
Upon exiting the train station, I was welcomed by a warm sun and fresh air. I could smell the ocean, such a joy that was. Lately I've become really sour about the pollution in Madrid. I feel like I'm constantly breathing in exhaust and cigarette smoke. It's so bad the city actually recommends people not exercising outside. So taking in a breath of clean air and feeling the breeze of the ocean was an absolute delight. I walked to the hostel and thoroughly enjoyed the sights on the way. Everything looked so clean and there were so many narrow, winding streets paved in marble, it had such a warm, small town feel. After putting my things down at the hostel, Paco, Sonya, Thomas and Katie picked me up... they chose to drive instead of take the bus from Madrid. We then headed towards Paco's parents place. They had a very nice apartment with a terrace overlooking the ocean. We hung out there for a few hours, drinking some beers, chatting and playing with his little dog Monk, named after the tv series detective whose show is apparently very popular in Spain.
After everyone took a shower and got a chance to rest after the long car ride, we headed back to the center for dinner and drinks. Since we were all on a budget, Paco took us to this cute little corner stand that could only be identified by a sign above the window "PATATAS ASADAS" (baked potatoes). For 4-5 euros, you get a giant baked potato filled with anything you want. I got the Patata Pollo which came with chicken, cheese, bechamel, and corn. Other toppings included olives, ham, curry, carrots, mayo, beets, tuna, etc. Even though the photo looks like cat vomit, it was totally yummy and filling.
After the meal, Kristen and Heather showed up fresh off the bus. One of Paco's old friends Antonio also came, having picked up the girls from the station. Together we headed to a famous old Andaluz bar called El Pimpi. It was packed. We finally found a table though and ordered a typical sweet wine from the region called Moscatel. It tasted what I imagine prune juice mixed with wine would taste like--pretty yummy actually. They serve it in a small glass which you're supposed to sip from, it's about 16% alcohol so you feel the effects pretty fast.
Thomas and Paco, the birthday boy. I actually met Paco through Thomas who went to CU-Boulder with me. We had a Spanish class together in Fall 2006 but didn't really get to know each other. We both applied for the Spain program (without knowing the other had) and six months later coincidently ran into each other at a cafe after orientation in Madrid. We became reaquainted, exchanged numbers and have been close friends ever since.
Me and Katie, one of Thomas and Paco's roommates. She's from Southern London, a very sweet girl.
Antonio, Heather and Sonya. Sonya is the final roommate, living with Katie, Thomas and Paco. Not long after moving in, she and Paco began dating and are now a couple. Sonya is also from San Diego, from Rancho Bernardo.
Drinking in a big outdoor square near El Pimpi. Beer in Madrid costs anywhere between 3-5 euros. In Málaga, it was only 1.20 euro. It was wonderful!