Long-time Members, Yvonne and Mike, share their luxury travel story on a home exchange in Malaga with HomeExchange.

A few minutes northeast of Malaga old town is a lovely characterful quarter - La Merced, and facing its main square Plaza Merced is Alberto’s bright and cosy home.

We’d stayed at Alberto’s place last winter, and had enjoyed it very much, despite it being their coldest Winter in many years. Perhaps we’d especially enjoyed his place because of this, as rather than spending time in mostly freezing outdoor Tapas bars, or in a hotel room, we’d made the most of cooking more at home, using produce from local markets which we then enjoyed eating in our ‘pop up’ restaurant - “Alberto’s”. His big balcony window overlooking the square was perfect for watching the street performers below.

We just loved absorbing the atmosphere from this cozy nest and the feeling of being in a real home.

However, we’d spent most of that last visit in the city’s wonderful (and warm!) indoor galleries and museums, so we were really pleased when Alberto accepted our request to return, this time to enjoy Malaga’s Autumnal warmth.

On this second visit, we hoped to walk as much of the city as possible and maybe discover some of the lesser know arty neighborhoods we’d read about but didn’t get a chance to see previously.

We’d heard that over the last few years, Malaga has developed a reputation for being a truly arty place, mainly due to its independent vibe, street art and cool neighborhoods. So we were looking forward to exploring that side of the city.

The area surrounding the flat seemed like a good place to start, and in so doing, we were surprised to find that we’d previously pretty much missed one of the city’s most interesting areas!

The back streets surrounding Plaza were lined with really characterful (and super-trendy) bars and clubs and there was also an interesting and cosmopolitan market - Mercado de la Merced, a quirky laid back place containing small bars and eateries with cuisine from all over the world.

How much we’d missed!

We’d previously skirted the Soho area, being drawn to the city’s more obvious attractions, and so we were now able to enjoy this area in the sunshine. There weren’t too many other visitors walking around here, which only made it feel more of an adventure.We found it to be a place where some of the world’s leading graffiti artists have enlivened the areas crumbling facades with exciting and quirky imagery.

The El Perchel area too, only appeared to be visited by the most curious of tourists. A scruffy but charming place being one of Malaga’s oldest neighborhoods.

One place we returned to (our favourite in Malaga) was El Artsenal by Malaga Port. A great place full of weird and often huge art, with graffiti and sculptures all around the open space. This lovely artistic place, just next to Pompidou centre is an open gallery that you can visit at any time of the week. (This time it even had an immersive free 3D film show).

This visit, we were able to relax under a sunshade, on fish crate seats with comfy cushions, while listening to live music. We were told that the waiters are all artists, musicians painters and photographers.It was good to see that a lot of care had gone into the art scene in this area, as not just into the nearby swanky marina.

These are some of the reasons why we’d happily go to Malaga any time of the year. So I’m sure Alberto will soon be receiving another request from us. Perhaps Malaga in the spring?

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