Write a pretty standard article and add a controversial headline and Bob’s your uncle! You grab the attention of journalists and newspapers. It’s that easy, isn’t it?
Usually not. However, a certain online writer, with a reputation for provoking reactions with his bold, and often totally unfounded statements, seems to have done it again.
This is the article I am referring to: “Málaga y Marbella, las peores ciudades de España para visitar…”
Having un-followed and blocked this individual on Twitter, over a year ago, due to his unrealistic and provocative comments, I was surprised to see his writing and blog published in a local Spanish newspaper.
Needless to say, like many other people I spoke to, my first reaction was to retaliate and rebuke his lame comments. However, that would be lowering ourselves to his level. We don’t work like that. We had a better idea …
In reply to his invitation … “If you think that after visiting Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Tarifa, Cadiz and Ronda, there is still something Malaga has to offer, share it with my readers. Show them how wrong I am!” …. we decided to invite Pedro Ramirez, one of the two writers of El Boqueron Viajero, to give us his thoughts on the comment made. We also invite you to decide whether you agree, or not, that Malaga is not one of the worst cities in Spain.
My name is Pedro and I’m from Malaga. My wife and I write for the travel blog El Boqueron Viajero, a bilingual travel blog where we share our experiences from around the world, from a personal and emotional point of view. I’m also travel expert writer for Homeaway. I have previously lived in Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona and, for the past year, I have been living in New York. As well as the travel blog, I have my own consultancy offering SEO in New York.
I am a travel lover and I always try to find the best and most positives points about different cities, looking to offer different alternatives in every city, because people are not always looking for the same things. So, I had never written such a negative article and from a subjective and unknown point of view.
What was your first reaction when I showed you the article?
I won’t lie to you, my first reaction was sadness and anger. However, I like to analyze the words of other travel writers, trying to find their point of view. I could have accepted a suggestion for visiting Granada or Seville before Malaga, but if you consider yourself a real traveler, you can never write a top list with “the worst cities in Spain”. Only a person with a certain trauma can enjoy writing these kind of titles.
What did you think/ feel once you had got over your original shock?
When I had the opportunity to read the article more times and analyze it with more calm, I could understand him better in order to argue his points. I don’t like people who catalogue cities, cultures and people with the tag “worst” or “bad”. I think that only an ignorant person can ignore and disregard all the different points that a city can offer to the visitors.
When you start writing a chain of articles just for filling a big website with content, you lose the emotion of the travel writing and abandon the essence of a traveler. I won’t say anything bad about Granada, Seville or Cordoba. I love them with all my heart, these cities. My father is from Seville, my mother is from Granada and my grandparents are from Cordoba, Jaen and Huelva. I’m not going to fall into the same error of the author. I think that Malaga has enough charm and and attractions to be worth visiting.
- “Malaga’s fame stems from just two things – its airport and the fact that Picasso was born here.”
The first mistake is to think that a real defense of Malaga should start with Picasso. Picasso was born in Malaga, but for me, it’s just a small piece of the culture in the city. Our representation is much more extensive: Salvador Rueda or Gloria Fuertes can be some examples.
Furthermore, a tourist will visit a city not only for names that have been born in that city, but also for the museums or the legacy in the city. We have the Museum Thyssen, CAC, the new SoHo area and the most recently bid for theaters, musicals and cinemas.
And if you don’t like any point raised so far, maybe this one will hook you. Most people (at least all my known friends, family and travelers who asked me before visiting Spain agree): “Málaga enjoys a subtropical–mediterranean climate. It has one of the warmest winters in Europe, with average temperatures of 17 °C “ (Wikipedia). Only a few cities in the world can presume of this weather. And during the summer you can combine any kind of tourism with the beach (sun, a fresh beer, a bath, pescaito frito and fun). Seriously, are you kidding me? Is the author saying that all the travelers who left Malaga loving the city and wanting to come back soon are stupid?
“You can see the best of Malaga in a day – and even then, that day could be better spent elsewhere.”
When you are able to write this affirmation, you don’t know how to write about traveling. You can’t treat your readers as stupid people, looking for the most famous and Lonely Planet featured spots in a city. What is a person looking for in a city? I had the opportunity of showing Malaga to my family-in-law (they are from the US) and they spent the best two weeks in years. There were so many things to see and do that I still have a full itinerary for their next getaway.
If the author didn’t have the opportunity of discovering the real city or he was more obsessed with finding the worst parts than with open his heart, I can understand that he couldn’t spend a good time in Malaga. You can spend one entire day on the beach alone, or discovering all the different cultures that Malaga had in the past.
I think that this is an old myth to bury. I have spent amazing days in Granada during my time at the university and it’s true, this city is fantastic for tapas. Anyway, Malaga has been known to adapt this concept both because it works and due to the crisis. Nowadays, it is easy to find several places offering “caña y tapa” for a great price. I invite the author to go to Teatinos or walk calmly around the city center, just maybe you discover new places.
The concept of San Sebastian is very different. First of all, it’s a little bit demagogue the fact of compare a Northern city with a Southern city. They offer totally different things. Are the traditional “pintxos” better in the north? I don’t think that they are better, they are simply originary from there. I could say that the best pescaito frito is from Malaga, so don’t waste your time eating in “any other city”. It would be unfair. I want to say something else: I have eaten the best pintxos of my life in Bar Jero in Valladolid (I have visited every city in Spain, some of them in different times); and this city is also included as the worst cities.
In Malaga, we have also one the best chefs in the world: Dani Garcia. So, I think that Malaga is a wonderful place for having tapas, for eating good food and for enjoying the pleasure of the tasting.
Well, he is not lying here; I have lived in Madrid for years and it is such an amazing city for art and museums. We are talking about one of the most cultural places in the world, so I think that he is using demagogism* again. Are we comparing Madrid with Malaga just for the museums? Are the travelers just looking for museum, museum and museum every single hour of their trips? May it be more fair to talk about the cultural offer in Malaga if a traveler want to do some cultural activities?
Malaga has strongly bid for the art and culture recently. Nowadays, Malaga has the Cinema Festival, one of the two Thyssen Museums in Spain, the SoHo neighborhood specifically dedicated to the art , one of the most importants Contemporary Museums of Art in Spain; apart from different museums and exhibitions. Malaga is not maybe a city for a “Museums Trip”, but please let’s not kid ourselves; almost everybody wants the museums as part of the trip and Malaga has a good cultural offer to complement other aspects of the trip.
And,I have also to talk about the importance of Malaga in the history. Visiting Malaga, you can see the legacy of Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Muslims or Visigoths.
*(NOTE: the art and practice of gaining power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people. )
I would like to highlight a phrase saying: “This important cultural infrastructure and the rich artistic heritage have culminated in the nomination of Málaga as a candidate for the 2016 European Capital of Culture.”
So there you have Pedro’s responses to some of the comments made in the article. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. It does make me wonder though, how you can claim to be a travel writer and publish such articles …
The author of this piece claims to be “a travel writer and consultant”. Really? Aren’t travel writers and consultants supposed to keep an open mind and let readers decide for themselves? Obviously, we expect them to offer their opinions and provide facts for others to make up their own minds, but blatant slandering of a location?
The author also boldly stated that “Having a sense of humor is good for you.”
As Pedro said earlier, “Only a person with a certain trauma can enjoy writing this kind of titles.“ Or, maybe we just have a difference of opinion as to what constitutes a “sense of humor”. Do you think that writing negative articles and making scathing comments about a city you hardly know is funny? I’ll let you decide on which side of the fence you sit on that one.
The author stated: “When I arrived in Spain I was amazed by the variety of the country, the beauty of its architecture and landscape and the passion of its inhabitants. I hope that by reading these pages you too will get a sense of what Spain is like. Hopefully it will inspire you to make the journey yourself.”
Reading the above statement of intent, I kind of feel sorry for the author and believe he may have derailed. He appears to have lost the initial purpose of his writing. His current articles in no way appear to inspire others to visit parts of Spain. Maybe, as Pedro said, “When you start writing a chain of articles just for filling a big website with content, you lose the emotion of the travel writing and abandon the essence of a traveler. “ This, unfortunately, happens to many bloggers/writers. The quantity demanded by the internet, to keep you at the top of rankings, is often detrimental to the quality produced. It shows character to stick to your morals and stay focused. However, when monetary reward prevails …
In order to help you to decide whether you agree, or not, that Malaga is not one of the worst cities in Spain, I thought you may be interested to read some recent articles about new and future projects in the city.
“Malaga Pompidou Centre to be completed within six months: The underground complex will have 2,000 square metres reserved for showing works of art and will cost 5.1 million euros to complete. 09.05.14″
“Malaga has been announced as one of the six finalists shortlisted to become the first ever European Capital of Innovation with the chance to win €500,000: An independent panel of experts has agreed upon the six cities that will compete to become the European Capital of Innovation. The European Commission has recognised Malaga’s progress made within the fields of urban regeneration, sustainable mobility and the promotion of entrepreneurial spirit.
Malaga City Council has based its application on three main platforms: the Soho arts area of the city, the Zem2 All electronic car scheme and the technological hub known as Malaga Valley.
Some 58 cities initially applied and now five remain to compete with Malaga: Paris, Barcelona, Espoo (Finland), Grenoble (France) and Groningen (Netherlands).”
Here are just a couple of the many comments made by reputable journalists and others, after their recent visits to Malaga. In hindsight, maybe Malaga city was not previously considered as a popular and noteworthy destination, however, I do believe opinions are changing and the modest Malagueños are finally realising they have plenty to shout about…
“Despite all this, both city and region have been undersold for decades. Part of the blame lies with years of package tourism that have seen the city of Málaga as the “airport place”. Fernando Rueda
“What I felt above all was the social and emotional value of food – pleasure before pretentiousness – and that even the high-end places had deep connections with traditions, enhanced by the edible riches of the two seas – Mediterranean and Atlantic – and the sun-baked land of the south. This was localism without any banner being waved.” Chris Moss, The Guardian.
“Ciudad del Paraíso” – the Paradise City. This is how the Nobel Prize winner for literature, Vicente Aleixandre, described Málaga. A city that vibrates with life and fascinates with its mixture of ancient history, folklore and modern culture. And of course, it is easy to imagine paradise in this harbour city with nearly 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and several kilometres of beach right in the centre.
“With its new museums, tapas bars, shops and waterfront development, maybe it’s time people in Málaga stopped apologising for not having the best of anything. It all looked pretty good to me.” Annie Bennett, Travel writer.
Molly Sears-Piccavey ” Malaga is certainly not the worst city in Spain to visit. I have chosen Malaga city for my family holiday this year for one week. It will be a great base to enjoy Malaga for its great food and climate. Looking forward to enjoying a few evenings along Muelle Uno too. We will also take a few day trips to different areas of Malaga province. Last year I enjoyed a weekend in Malaga and enjoyed the culture side of the city. The Alcazaba, roman theatre and museums.”
Louise Brace “Don’t look at the past, look at the present. If you like art: the world’s best urban artists have chosen Malaga to showcase their work, the CAC features some of the best contemporary artists from around the world and Paris’ own Pompidou centre is coming to town. If you like eating out: the city now combines Michelin star cuisine, with down-to-earth tapas. If you want to relax: the city’s beaches are clean, safe and lined with good bars and chiringuitos; you also have the Hamman for a relaxing treat after shopping in some of the city’s latest independent boutiques. Oh yes and you still have all the old favourites: Picasso, the Alcazaba, the cathedral, etc. Finally, you’ll never be bored in the evening, unless you go to bed at 10pm.”
In case you are still not convinced that Malaga is not one of the worst cities in Spain, go and pour yourself a cup or glass of something and sit back and watch these videos.
This may look like a plug for Spain-Holiday.com, as these are videos made by them. However, it isn’t. They have no interest in this post whatsoever. I have chosen to show you these videos as I believe they give a true picture of what Malaga is really like. I also know that John Kramer, the author of these articles, knows the city very well 🙂
Malaga’s new port – Muelle uno and the Palmeral de las Sorpresas
Muelle Uno was opened at the end of 2011. The 14,000m2 shopping and commerce centre is home to restaurants, shops and has underground parking for over 1000 cars. The most exclusive part of the port, it is home to Malaga’s only Michelin-starred restaurant (Jose Carlos Garcia’s) and has a marina for luxurious yachts, known as “Ricardo Gross.”
Despite its exclusivity, there are also numerous other cafés and bars that cater for all tastes and budgets (including an Indian restaurant).
Muelle Dos is home to the beautiful waterfront promenade invitingly named “The Palm Garden of Surprises,” “Palmeral de las Sorpresas” in Spanish.
Read more here: http://www.spain-holiday.com/Malaga-city/articles/malagas-muelle-uno-and-the-palmeral-de-las-sorpresas
Malaga City Beach Guide:
Being a coastal city, a beach is never far. Nearly all the ones mentioned below are within easy walking distance from the centre of Malaga. These are not your typical tourist beaches. You won’t find row after row of sunbed rentals and the usual bucket and shade crew, in fact, you’ll be hard pressed to hear anything other than Spanish on them. Which just adds to their appeal. Many of them are also home to some reasonably priced and good restaurants. According to the official town hall website, there are 15 beaches within Malaga’s city limits.
Read more here: http://www.spain-holiday.com/Malaga-city/articles/malaga-city-beach-guide
And what do recent statistics say about tourism in Malaga?
The city of Malaga is now one of the Spanish tourist destinations that is least affected by seasonality. This has once again been shown in the tourism trends report for the off season. In fact, according to the figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in the months of November, December, January and February, a total of 257,277 tourists stayed in the city’s hotels, 14.07% more than in the previous winter. (27/03/2014)
Turkish Airlines, Europe’s Best Airline*, held a regional road show for travel agents in Qatar with The Andalusia Tourist Board and Malaga-Costa del Sol, announcing increasing flights to Malaga in response to Andalusia’s growing appeal as a holiday destination for tourists from Qatar and the wider Gulf. –
See more at: http://www.qatarisbooming.com/article/turkish-airlines-announces-increased-flights-malaga-andalusia-roadshow-qatar#sthash.G9f7y0XF.dpuf
The following information is just a taste of what the Tourist Board promotes in Malaga:
The Alcazaba: This fortress palace, whose name in Arabic means citadel, is one of the city’s historical monuments and is much visited because of its history and beauty.
Castillo de Gibralfaro: This Castle, built in the 14th. Century to house troops and protect the Alcazaba, is today one of the most visited monuments in Málaga. From its walls, visitors get spectacular views of the city and you can visit the Interpretation Centre to discover the site’s history.
The Cathedral: Its full name is Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación (Our Lady of Incarnation) although in Málaga it is simply known as “the Cathedral”. Cathedrals are important in all cities, but here in Málaga it is even more important than usual. It is not only a religious building but a landmark, a national landmark, a milestone along the road and a witness to many events.
El Teatro Romano: Málaga’s Roman Theatre is one of the remaining symbols of Roman Hispania in the city. In addition to the theatre itself, it has a modern interpretation centre where new technologies present the life and customs of the time. The Theatre has also been returned to its original use and different types of shows take place inside.
Read more here: http://www.malagaturismo.com/en/sections/historical-monuments/4
Churches and Chapels:
Read more here: http://www.malagaturismo.com/en/sections/churches-and-chapels/5
Read more here: http://www.malagaturismo.com/en/sections/palaces/6
Just a few more monuments:
Read more here: http://www.malagaturismo.com/en/sections/other-monuments/8
Parks, gardens and natural areas
Málaga’s natural heritage provides opportunities for other types of tourism. Places of extraordinary environmental wealth, such as the Montes de Málaga natural park, the natural setting of the estuary of the Guadalhorce, the Historical-Botanical Garden of La Concepción and Málaga Park or museum spaces such as the Museo Alborania and Ecomuseo Lagar de Torrijos offer a more educational approach to Málaga’s natural resources.
For details and information about the 17 listed art galleries in Malaga, read here: http://www.malagaturismo.com/en/sections/art-galleries-and-exhibition-rooms/12
We could go on. But you may have got the hint by now.
We love Malaga! (Read our Here are our A to Z Reasons for living in Malaga)
We think the city has been undiscovered by too many for too long. It may not offer as many tapas as San Sebastian, as many museums as Madrid, as many historical monuments as Granada or Cordoba. Its feria may not be as grand as that of Seville. The beaches may not be as white as those in Tarifa and Cadiz. The bull ring not as historical as that of Ronda. But, Malaga is definitely not one of the worst cities in Spain.
Malaga is a place full of beautiful, friendly people, enjoying life at their own pace. It is a town full of character, with history, with passion, that invites outsiders with open arms. Food and drink to suit all pallets. Authentic tapas in tucked away bars, gourmet tapas and fine dining served to the highest standard and not forgetting the fresh fished cooked chargrilled in fishing boats on the many beaches.
Whether you are looking for a cultural discovery, a sunshine getaway or merely a base to discover what Andalucía has to offer, we do not believe you will disappointed if you stay in Malaga.
We’d love to hear what you think …. Please add your comments below and share with your friends 🙂
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