I visited the house of Pablo Picasso when I was in Malaga. He wasn’t in. Perhaps I should have phoned in advance.

He was born in Malaga in 1881. However the family upped and left when he was only 10. I can’t say as I’m surprised, Malaga is a bit of a dump. The average visitor to the Costa del Sol would only know Malaga for its airport…and that would only be a quick glance at the Arrivals Hall before jumping on a coach to go see their old mucker from D Wing of the Scrubs who now runs a bar in Fuengirola.

They don’t know what they are missing by not heading into the centre of Malaga. It has much to offer the tourist, including a wide variety of graffiti, pungent sluice canals and many shades of dog-poo drying in the Andalucian sunshine. Although I am being a bit unfair, as I sort of liked the place to start with.

I was on my way to Granada and I had the choice of getting on a coach from Malaga Airport, where I’d just flown into, or going into Malaga itself to catch a coach from the Bus Station a couple of hours later. As it had been an early morning start, and a long flight, I had the notion that seeing as I’d come all this way I might as well dip my toe in the Mediterranean. So I caught the fast train into Malaga in order to find the sea.

malaga beach

I arrived around midday and there seemed to be little in the way of signage that indicated even the existence of a beach, never mind which direction it might be in. Having been in the Boy Scouts for three weeks and possessing a grade C in O Level Geography I decided to follow the sun, presuming that it was the same sun we have in the UK and that at Midday it too would be hovering due south. Rather remarkably this piece of bush-wisdom proved successful and I arrived at something that resembled a sea.

Following this survival triumph I am now considering buying a compass and heading up the Congo equipped only with a mankini and a swiss-army knife.

The watery thing I’d arrived at was Malaga docks. This wasn’t a pleasant little shanty town type docks with rustic fishing boats, leathery-skinned fisherman and toothless crones mending their nets. Unfortunately this was a bustling container port with big cranes and a constant stream of articulated lorries that seemed hell-bent on flattening the odd tourist that had mistakenly thought that there might be something interesting to be found in Malaga.

Not to be thwarted in my search for a paddle in the Med, and a cold beer to go with it, I started walking along the main coast road. After a while… a long while… the landscape of containers and cranes began to soften and a beach came into view. As I was there in January I don’t think the beach was at its best, as it looked a bit industrial too. It had been raked and flattened as if someone was preparing it for a housing estate. However, there were some signs of life on the beach as there were clusters of tramps taking in the sun’s rays outside of their houses made of pallets and railway sleepers.

I did eventually find a beachside bar that was open and I also discovered the most wonderful of Andalucian customs, a free plate of tapas with every drink you order. So right there and then, sitting on the beach with a cold beer,  some free mussels and lashings of winter sunshine, everything was right with the world and I quite liked Malaga…that half an hour of it anyway.

A couple of days later I went back to Malaga on my way home. This time it was raining and any charm that it may have had slowly dribbled away down its inadequate drains. There are a few good art galleries, but be warned that you shouldn’t walk anywhere in Malaga when it rains. This is because they don’t get a lot of rain in Malaga. In fact, I’m fairly sure that it had never rained there before my visit. This is the only reason I can think of that they thought it was a good idea to pave their sidewalks with what appeared to be bathroom wall tiles.

Slipping arse over tit whilst munching on a soggy ham roll wasn’t a great way to end my trip.

For my other guides to Spain click here.