Ever since the Phoenicians arrived more than 23 centuries ago, Malaga has acted like a magnet for foreigners. Drawn to the city’s year-round pleasant climate, friendly locals and easy-to-adapt-to culture, many of these foreigners have made Malaga their permanent home. In the first of our Expats in Malaga series, Liz Parry reflects on life in the city and just why she loves Malaga so much.
When did you arrive in Malaga?
I first visited the city when I was a student, which is too long ago to put a date on it! Let’s just say Franco was still alive and kicking… then I worked here for a year after I graduated when Franco was still alive but not kicking quite so vigorously. I was in Spain when he died and it was one of those ‘Do you remember where you were?´moments. I was in Cordoba, waiting for my Spanish boyfriend to finish his ‘mili’. Scary times but very interesting! My permanent home has been in Malaga though since 1979 when my husband (the same man as the boyfriend in Cordoba) finished a job in Catalonia and we moved to one he’d been offered in Malaga. I was in the UK for the birth of both my children, but they grew up in Malaga and I’ve been working at SUR in English since the youngest was three years old.
What were your first impressions of Malaga?
Very first impressions? A very cheap hostel in the centre, a maze of narrow streets I got lost in, and then ‘chocolate y churros’ for breakfast before getting the Alsina to Granada over the windy mountain road. I remember being puzzled by the provision on the bus of blue plastic bags, and then very grateful for them…. I left my new black suede shoes in that hostel and never got them back.
Later that year I came back to see the city and loved sitting on the stones by the harbour near the lighthouse looking out over the port. About where Muelle Uno is now, but very different!
What do you think has changed most about Malaga since you arrived?
The sea front, and the city centre. There was hardly anything you could call a beach, and the city centre was dirty and delapidated. I haven’t seen much change in the Malagueños themselves! This is still a very Spanish city with its traditions and idiosyncrasies – if visitors join in they are made welcome, but life isn’t organised around tourism.
What do you like most about living in Malaga?
I can’t pick out one thing, or even two! I love the sea view from my bedroom window. The number 3 bus. The proximity of the airport, and the AVE. Wandering around El Palo or the city centre, people watching. Espetos and chiringuitos. Tapas. Cultural events everywhere. The JOPMA (Malaga province Youth Orchestra). Long summer evenings, and even hot days! The exercise machines and drinking fountains dotted along the sea front. Siesta time. I suppose you could sum it up as the lifestyle, so I take back my first answer. If I have to pick out one thing, it’s lifestyle. I LOVE Malaga.
What do you like least about living in Malaga?
Having to look at the pavement when I am out walking, to avoid craters, obstacles and dog dirt!
Where’s your favourite corner in Malaga and why?
The English Cemetery, without a doubt. I love gardens, and history, and peaceful spots to sit and read or ponder in city centres, so that’s where I go. It’s near the bullring – look for the lions flanking the gate.
I also like going to look at Malaga’s vertical garden! There’s never anyone there and nowhere to sit, and however often I go, I can never remember quite where it is, so I try to take visitors there just for the fun of it! It’s somewhere in the centre, I am sure….
Which is your favourite restaurant in Malaga and why?
I rarely go to restaurants, being more of a tapa-crawler and chiringuito-goer. For a consistently good, cheap and friendly chiringuito I’d say Parales, in El Palo, but for a restaurant in the centre… I can recommend Garum near the Roman Theatre. For a long time I never went there because it looked as if it might be a tourist trap but it’s not. The food is very good, the staff excellent – and it has a round table for groups, which is something I often look for!
Describe Malaga in 3 words.
Spanish. Life-enhancing. (Constantly) improving.
I was born in Salisbury and grew up mostly in Retford – nearest city Doncaster. Further education was at Birmingham University, London School of Journalism and the Open University. Vice President of the Costa Press Club. Trustee of the Fundación Cementerio Inglés de Málaga. Author of two books about Spanish language and customs published by Santana Books.
Until January 2014 I was the Editor of SUR in English, the English language newspaper for southern Spain. Since then I have been working part time as Consultant Editor, studying a variety of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and gearing myself up to do an MA, probably in History – as well as having time to enjoy Malaga to the full!
Liz retired fully from SUR in English in 2016. She was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2017 for services to the British community in Andalucía.
Thank you Liz!
We’re very grateful to Liz for taking the time to be interviewed for our Guide to Malaga blog and for her interesting insights. Thank you!