OBSERVATION DECK: MALAGA
Fusion. This is the word that best describes Malaga. The mélange of various artistic styles, the duality between seaside and forest, the co-existence of old and new - the culmination of these contrasts bewitches every traveller encountering this city in the south of Spain.
I love to start the day with a typical Spanish breakfast of coffee, and bread with olive oil, in one of the cafés on Granada Street. Just a stone's throw away is the Plaza de la Merced, the main square, where Picasso was born. Even today, you can sense his spirit in every corner of the city, but this extraordinary painter is not the only one to have influenced Malaga's artistic and cultural side.
In the 11th century the Moors constructed the Alcazaba, a magnificent fortress standing tall among the Gibralfaro Mountains. A trip to the top of this vast structure is a must - an opportunity to enjoy the magnificent views. Here, the intense colour of the bright blue sea is amplified by the contrast of the surrounding green of the trees.
When you reach the bottom of the Alcazaba, you will find a Roman amphitheatre, largely intact, and an imposing 16th-century cathedral, one of Malaga's masterpieces of the Renaissance period. How pleasant and peaceful it is to sit on the green lawns next to this majestic architecture, pick up a book and enjoy some quiet time in the sunshine.
At lunchtime, which in Spain does not arrive before 2pm, the streets begin to smell of pescaito - delicious fried fresh fish cooked in the various restaurants of the area. My nose always seems to guide me very quickly to the ones in Pasaje de las Chinitas, my favourite network of intertwined cobble-stoned alleys.
These passageways filter on to the principal street in Malaga,
Calle Larios, brimming with locals going about their day in a cheerful manner. I'm pretty sure the weather correlates with their happiness, as Malaga has an average temperature of 22°C and 300 sunny days per year. And there's no better way to take in the sunshine than crossing the Paseo Marítimo.
Strolling along this promenade will lead you to the Malagueta beach, where the fine sand makes a comfortable spot for people-watching. But, like most Spanish cities, it is at night that Malaga really comes alive. The streets throng with people, the air is filled with the sound of traditional flamenco music, and terraces and bodegas are crowded with friends and families sharing tapas and sangria - everyone unwinding in the warm evening breeze.
It is that joy in simple things, the sharing in everyday rituals and the feeling of infinite possibility mingling with a deep-rooted sense of tradition and heritage which is truly the definition of 'fusion'. That is my Malaga.