Today, we embark on a global journey, sharing our experiences from Tokyo to India, and from the dynamic streets of London to the vibrant energy of Las Vegas and Malaga. We begin with insights into the convenience of flying with Finnair and the luxury of using airport valet services, making international travel a breeze. Our conversation then takes a dive into the evolving landscape of Las Vegas, exploring its transformation from a casino-centric destination to a burgeoning sports capital. We share firsthand experiences of the city’s new attractions, including NFL games and the highly anticipated Formula One race. Plus, we give you the inside scoop on luxury dining, highlighting The Bedford by Martha Stewart as a must-visit culinary gem.
The latter part of our episode transports listeners to the picturesque city of Malaga, Spain, where history and modernity coalesce to create a unique cultural tapestry. We wander through Malaga’s old city, revealing secrets of its intricate alleyways, bustling marketplaces, and the impact of diverse cultures on its culinary scene. Highlights include Picasso’s favorite restaurant, Chinita, and recommendations for immersing oneself in local customs and cuisine. We also delve into the cultural influences on Malaga’s architecture and traditions, showcasing the city’s rich history that blends African, Arabic, and European elements. From exploring the Automotive and Fashion Museum to staying at the stylish Only You Hotel, we cover it all.
[0:00] Hey adventurers, this is Mike Putman welcoming you back to No Tourist Allowed,
[0:06] your go -to podcast for all great things travel.
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[0:46] Check the details in our show notes for the link to enter or visit our website directly at notouristallowed .com.
[0:54] Now, let’s get started with today’s episode.
[0:59] Hello, everyone. I’m Mike Putman.
[1:01] And I’m James Serrar. Welcome to No Tourists Allowed.
And while there may be no tourists allowed, there certainly is a lot of travel allowed.
And Mike and I have been road warriors, our usual selves, for the last couple of weeks.
So we have a lot to talk to you about firsthand this episode.
We didn’t bring on a guest.
We are our own guests, right, Mike?
[1:27] I feel like the Johnny Cash song, I’ve been everywhere because it feels like I certainly have.
I’ve circumnavigated the entire globe and actually did that and backtracked just a little bit leaving October 26th.
I just got home on November 12th at midnight, I really got home November 13th to be technical after a 24 -hour day of traveling back from Malaga. And James, you’ve been on the road as well.
[2:01] Yes, I mean, you’ve got mileage over me in terms of how far you went, but I’ve been away just as long, only slightly closer to home.
And then, well, I’ve been to Las Vegas, I’ve been to Spain and New York in between for, I think, 18 hours on the ground in New York, and then Mike and I came together in Spain and spent the last almost week together there on the coast of Del Sol.
So we have a lot to talk to you about.
Mike’s journey to Japan and India
[2:37] And Mike, why don’t we kick it off with your first leg, because you started off first, and that was all the way to, what, Japan and then to India, right?
[2:50] Yeah, I went to Tokyo for a few days and I’ve kind of reported out to listeners about that and then I went on to India where we’ve got an office and spent, Five days in India, and it was a great experience there.
Got a lot of good FaceTime with my team and stayed at a beautiful hotel, the Ritz -Cross in Pune, where service, it seemed like the old days, James, and I hate to use that term, but man, the service there was just impeccable.
The hotel was beautiful and it was just a very, very good experience.
And oddly enough, through this whole trip, with the exception of Spain, I stayed in Marriott owned properties.
[3:40] Well, it’s hard not to. They own almost everything.
[3:45] But I stayed, I think, in five or six different sub -brands, none of which were the same.
So I stayed in a Weston, a Ritz -Carlton, an Aloft, I stayed in a Signature in London, and then a Courtyard one night at the airport.
So five, five was, I don’t know, that was five or six different brands, but they all were very, very good, good quality stays.
But anyhow, so I had a nice time in London. Then from London, I went on to, I flew Finnair.
By the By the way, a little tip for our listeners.
I was able to get a really good price on a flight from Delhi to London, just by making a single stop in Helsinki.
It saved about 50 % of the airfare.
Not, it was 50 % of the airfare. And basically all I had to do was just change planes in Helsinki, which was an hour and a half.
And it really wasn’t, Helsinki’s really not that far away.
[4:45] But it was also – Just a strategy reminder for everyone, right, is don’t forget these international carriers, especially with a single stopover in their home country.
I did the same thing going to Spain.
I flew TAP Air Portugal and stopped in Lisbon for a quick, you know, hour and a half layover, and it wound up costing me the same thing, about half what it would have cost on some of the more typical carriers that I might’ve researched.
So keep in mind these other international carriers. Keep your mind open, guys.
Mike’s positive experience with Finnair and airport valet service
[5:25] Yeah, and also the service on Finnair, this first time I’ve been on Finnair, the service was fantastic.
The hardware was really good. They had lay -flat seats on both the flights.
And that flight from Delhi to Helsinki was 10 hours. It was actually 10 hours and 30 minutes.
That was tough. Well, it wasn’t terribly tough. It was just a long flight.
And I had one, two, three, four, four of those flights that were 10 hours plus on my journey.
So, but that went well. But one of the things that I’ve never had before.
[6:01] It in my travels and I, and I did it this two or three times was had an airport service where I forget what they call it, a valet service or something, but they meet you at your gate and you know, the, they’re the guys holding the signs up.
And take you through customs and where your planes change and take you through that.
And I always thought like that was kind of a little bit over the top service.
It just so happened that with these tickets I purchased, it came as part of the service.
[6:36] But I got to tell you, I may do that each time I fly internationally.
And the reason being is these folks can take you, with my experience, they took me through lines like customs lines and other things that were marked VIP, not that I was VIP, but they were just marked that way. And so I didn’t have to stand in any lines.
There was a couple of times they took me through parts where I guess normal travelers couldn’t go.
But I mean, it made it so quick, so efficient.
And it was, it was a really, really good service. And I had that in, had that in Delhi and they met me at the airport and like wheeled my luggage around.
And I mean, I was carrying just a carry on that you can wheel. It wasn’t a big deal.
They actually had two people waiting for me. One to wheel my luggage around and one to kind of show me where to go.
And again, a little bit over the top, but, but it sure was nice.
And it made things much quicker.
[7:35] Sure. That can take some of the stress. I, even as a seasoned traveler, I sometimes worry a little bit.
Do I know where to go? Do I know where the gate is? Do I know how far it is?
How much time I have? Where is the lounge? All of that.
You know, it can really take away a lot of that. And I thankfully, I didn’t encounter.
Any lines in my international travels because the class of service.
James talks about his time in Las Vegas
[8:03] Now, this is, you know, an argument.
If you can afford to fly business class or first class, boy, it does make things a lot easier, not just on the plane, but in the airport in terms of the fast track lanes and all of that.
And if you have status with an airline or if you have clear, you’re flying domestically, global entry, coming back into the United States, all of these things take away all of that waiting time and some of that stress too. So I highly recommend them.
I was in Vegas and I want to talk a little bit about Vegas because it is always in our top two or three domestic destinations, right?
[8:50] And it’s a very important place in the United States.
It’s also everyone’s favorite destination to rag on, right?
So, it’s kind of not cool, maybe, to like Vegas too much, but I have to admit, even though we are no tourists allowed, and Vegas is very touristy, I happen to like Vegas a lot.
There’s a lot there. And if you do it in the right way, I think it can be really great destination.
How do you like Vegas, Mike?
[9:23] I like Vegas in small doses. Yeah.
There’s some really nice restaurants there. There’s some restaurants that have names that, you know, because they’re in the middle of this glitzy casino, we’re supposed to be great and they’re not so great.
So I enjoy going out there. I like to gamble a little bit. I’m not like a I’m not a big, big gambler, but I enjoy gambling.
I enjoy going to a show every once in a while.
Yeah. But after two or three days, I’m really – I agree with that.
[9:53] I agree. It’s in small doses. I also go for the restaurants.
And there’s an odd phenomenon in Vegas around the restaurants, which is they look for restaurants that are successful somewhere else, and they’ve built a big name in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles.
And then they do a sort of carbon copy of them in Vegas.
But like any carbon copy, it’s slightly less than the original in some sense, right?
I did find, you know, because we talk in our podcast about giving some sort of insider information and some, you know, specific tips and so on.
Insider Tip: The Bedford at the Paris Hotel
[10:32] I will share this with you.
Martha Stewart opened a new restaurant in the Paris Hotel called The Bedford.
And it’s supposed to look like her estate in Connecticut, that sort of very chic, upscale, elegant country estate feel.
And it was quite good, very pretty.
The food was very good. So I do recommend it as a new spot to try out The Bedford at the Paris Hotel.
But what I really want to talk about with Vegas, because many people have been to Vegas and you know the basics, is how Vegas is changing again.
I would say every 15 years or so, Vegas reinvents itself, right?
[11:16] And I remember a particularly funny one, which was when Vegas decided it wasn’t going to be Sin City anymore. It was going to be for families.
[11:26] Family, yeah.
[11:27] And MGM built a theme park. You know, Treasure Island had the pirate ships.
And there were all these things that and then the roller roller coaster, Excalibur the one that looks like a fairy tale with knights and whatever and then Luxor and all these places were built that was back in the 80s and There was this move to make Vegas more for families, right?
Well, the latest one is Vegas as the sports capital of the United States and the way they’re doing that they built a spectacular new stadium.
And in fact, on the week I was there, during the week I was there, there was a big NFL football game with the Giants.
So everyone comes down from New York, all the big shots follow the football teams, and so that the town was packed with people for the Giants game.
And then the other thing that was going on.
[12:23] Was preparation for the Formula One racing that is going to tear through the middle of Las Vegas like it does in other cities around the world, famously, you know, on the French Riviera.
But here we are in the middle of Vegas, and so they were building barricades and wire fencing and stadium seating and covering the strip and side roads and whatever, tons of construction going on, heading into Formula One.
So, people who are interested in sports are the new fans that Vegas is attracting.
BravoCon: Reality TV Stars Take Over Vegas
[13:05] I was also there, odd combination, but I was there during BravoCon.
Do you know what that is, Mike?
[13:13] Have something to do with Bravo Television?
[13:18] I wouldn’t be surprised if you have no idea. however, wildly popular, so it has to do with all the reality television programming on the Bravo channel.
And it’s the head of programming in the channel, Andy Cohen, who has a television presence of his own, talking to all the stars from these shows on a chatty kind of show that he does.
And so they were doing Andy live, and they had a convention center full of all of these celebrities, like the housewives of New York and real housewives of here and there.
And it was really something.
[14:02] I don’t know if I would deem people on Bravo as celebrities. Maybe they’re Bravos.
[14:08] Well, so every hotel had something going on, including the hotel where I was staying.
Even though the main stuff was at the convention center, there were performances and cocktail receptions and ticket -only events at hotels all around town.
And it was mobbed. And it was mobbed with social media influencers and Instagram models and, you know, just beautiful women and young men who follow all this stuff. I mean, mobbed.
So that was happening. And that makes Vegas interesting to some people.
But maybe your thing is more for the Consumer Electronics Show, which is really cool.
And it’s the number one show, I think, in Vegas at the Convention Center.
[14:59] Yeah, massive, massive. You got to get tickets.
[15:03] Well, and it’s in the – And there are new shows for, you know, Barry Manilow has a residency now.
Adele is at Caesars Palace every weekend, plus all kinds of other events, all kinds of, Kelly Clarkson is the big new residency coming up, so you know Vegas has always known how to bring in the stars to bring in the crowds, right?
Insider Tip: Make Reservations in Advance for Popular Spots
[15:26] Yeah. One thing I will give everyone a tip is, If you wait till when you’re there to make your restaurant and show reservations, it can be very difficult, especially if you’re there the kind of week that I was there, when it’s so, so crowded that airfares were up to $2 ,000 for economy to get into Vegas that weekend.
It’s so demand -sensitive that if a weekend is sold out in Vegas, you know, the hotel rates soar and the airfare rates soar.
So what you should do is get on OpenTable, the restaurant reservation app, at least several weeks prior to your trip and make some reservations.
[16:12] And then you’ll have a really good choice. But if you’re there and you haven’t done it, you can still look on OpenTable.
It’s just you probably won’t be able to get the hot spots, But you’ll still be able to get, something You can do it the old -fashioned way the way my dad used to do it which is walk up to the maitre d’ even at a sold -out restaurant in Vegas and.
[16:35] Slip him or her a What we used to call Duke them you Duke them you slip them a little cash and you’ll be amazed how quickly table materializes.
But you have to make it’s Vegas now so ten or twenty dollars is not going to do it but if you flip them a fifty dollar bill you’ll you’ll get yourself a table that’s how it works in Vegas just like it works in New York it does not work that way everywhere, I have tried that in other cities where the maitre d’s looked at me like, what’s that for?
[17:14] I will tell you, so Joe’s Stone Crab, which is one of my top five restaurants in Miami Beach in the world, they, I think the maitre d’s there must make two or three million bucks a year.
The guys have been there forever and you go up to them and you do that and they’re like, No, you can tip me on the way out.
A memorable encounter with Red Fox in Vegas
[17:35] Okay. And I don’t know why they always say you can get me on the way out.
But that’s, I will tell you one, one, one interesting story about I was in Vegas and this is a long time ago.
I went to see a red Fox show and this was kind of towards the end of his career and it was at kind of one of, you know, when it’s Caesar’s palace, it was like one of the small Tropicana or some smaller place like that.
And anyhow, I went in and tickets were relatively expensive and I slipped the guy 20 and I said, I want to smell red Fox’s breath and they pull a table.
And this is back when you had to drink cocktails or there were, it was, you bought a ticket and you had to buy two cocktails or something, but anyhow, my hip was touching the stage and not only did I smell his breath, but he spit on me all night, uh, as he was doing his jokes and laughing, but it was, it was a great experience.
Instagram Dominates as YouTube’s New Competitor
[18:33] So Vegas on, you know, on the, the thing on social media now is especially on Instagram is the sphere, you know, the, the new place that YouTube is playing.
And I got to tell you, I it’s, it’s, it’s on there.
It’s on my feed every day or every other day when I look at it, but it is fascinating what the, the.
The way they’ve been able to build that. So it’s just a screen on the outside of the, of the sphere, the dome.
And it looks inside, looks really, really cool, too.
So I was I was even thinking about going out there really like you two and and seeing them while they’re there, they’re in Vegas.
Just for that, really, for that reason only.
[19:15] I took a lot of pictures of the sphere and and you have two options.
You can attend a concert, but they’re very pricey. The YouTube tickets were $500 directly from the venue.
On the resale market, they were probably quite a bit more.
But for a little less than $100, you can do a tour of the sphere and an experience inside and out.
So I don’t think that’s well -known yet. It’s pretty new.
And that sounded like a good idea. I didn’t have time to do it myself.
One thing, I read some interesting stats. Hotel occupancy, as we head into the last part of the year, is 96 % or more in Vegas right now.
And the average daily rate is $234 a night.
Now that’s a big change from the old Vegas, where rooms were inexpensive and there was plenty of capacity. And so there are some warnings that it’s going to be tough to get a hotel room, and hotel rooms are going to be pricey.
If you’ve been to Vegas before and you’ve done the Strip, you might consider staying just off the Strip, and there’s a significant difference in the cost of a hotel room.
And there are some new hotels and resorts that have opened just a block off the Strip, so that’s always a good strategy there.
[20:41] I mean, it’s a block between even the hotels on the strip you’re walking, even though they’re side by side, you’re walking probably more to get to them.
But you know, that’s really, that is like a really high ADR for Vegas.
And you know, what you have to do is you’ve got to balance in to their Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rooms.
They literally are almost giving those away.
Right. So I know most of the Caesar properties I can go to at no cost during the middle of the week. But on the weekend, that must mean that they’re jacking up to $500, $600 average daily.
[21:15] Well, the other thing to do is to register with the hotel as a gamer.
So you join the program, you get yourself a little card, very easy to do and free.
And then make sure that every time you do play in the casino, if you like to gamble, that you use your card. You give your card to the pit boss if you’re at a table or you stick your card into a.
[21:41] One -armed bandit if you’re at the slot machines and putting that time in in the casino will get you rated and get you on a casino hosts list and that gets you offers from the casino that can be really drop dead low.
So you know get yourself thought of as a gambler even at a fairly moderate level and a whole world of things open up to you.
Use the concierges too. This is something we’ve talked about in general, Mike, but it’s particularly important in Las Vegas.
If you find yourself there and you can’t get the restaurant reservation you want, or you can’t get the hotel tickets you want, and you’re staying in a better hotel, those concierges are very well connected.
So they know how to get you the tickets, how to get you the table.
If you just walk up to them and ask them for help, you’ve got a shot.
But remember there are 5 ,000 rooms in some of these hotels So same thing is with the maitre d if you walk up to them and you slip slip them even a $20 bill You’re much more likely to get you know They’re holding on to tickets and restaurant reservations that they’re only going to give to the customers that are either VIP with them casino hosted or, Who you know fronted with a little?
Exploring London and Soccer Match Experience
[23:09] Gratitude. So let’s talk about London, Mike. You went to London.
[23:14] Yeah, so I had five days in London.
Yeah, five days in London and got there late on a Friday night and really just kind of hit the sack Friday night.
But because I had purchased a ticket to go see a soccer match or a football match and I went to see Fulham play Man United and on Saturday morning, which was a really cool experience.
If any of you ever go to London and you have the remotest inkling to go to a soccer match, it is well worth it.
And they’re not inexpensive either, but the American football, college football has a certain amount of hype and it’s really fun, very festive atmosphere.
But the, the UK soccer matches are, it’s different, it’s different, but the people are really vested in their team and they have, it would not be smart to wear an away uniform or what they call a kit to, to another game. Let me just put it that way.
So always dress in neutral colors. That’s a great tip because even if you’re, if you’re United, man, man, United was playing at full in London.
And I dared not wear anything red.
[24:31] Think someone would associate me with Man United, just to keep people from screaming obscenities at me.
So, but yeah, I had a great time doing that. And then met up with a couple of IntelliTravel people and went to a really nice dinner at Anchor & Hope, probably my favorite restaurant in the world, which is, it’s at The Cut in Southwark, which is inside of London.
And it’s a, it is a gastro pub and they have the most, it’s a very casual place too. And James, you’ve been there. You’ve been there with me, right?
[25:04] Yeah. Yeah. And so it’s a, you know, very casual pub and you don’t need to dress up.
They do take reservations now they didn’t use to, but they have just a great menu that a lot of, most of the dishes change every day and they actually have a chalkboard with what, with what’s fresh and what they’ve got.
But they have a couple of things that I always enjoy getting and one is a lamb shoulder and, it’s it’s prepared for two, but it’s seven hours of Roasted lamb shoulder and neck the neck part I could do without to be honest with you but but the shoulder is is amazing and it comes in a big platter and, On the side it has carrots and potatoes and all the stuff that’s been cooked with it Sunday roast, It’s it’s kind of yeah Not kinda in a sense, but it’s, they serve it, they serve it every night.
And it’s, it is something that’s really special. And you have to actually get there early cause they only have so many of them, but they do serve it, serve it all the time. And it is, it is fantastic.
So, and for our listeners, there are places called Hope and Anchor, which is a different bar in another part of London, which, which I have made the mistake of going to, but it’s Anchor and Hope.
And I, and every time I’m in London, I make a trip there.
Sometimes I go twice and the food is fantastic. The service is really good.
And just a great casual gastronomic.
[26:31] But you were in London for another purpose too, right?
Attending the World Travel Market in London
[26:34] Right. Eat more at different restaurants. The world travel market was in London and it started on Monday of last week.
And it was Monday and Monday for VIPs. and then Tuesday, Wednesday for the travel industry and Thursday, Friday for consumers, which it’s, James, you’ve been there before.
It’s, it’s, it’s actually the second largest travel event in the world. ITB and Berlin.
[27:00] What’s the largest, Berlin?
[27:01] Yeah, ITB. And so, but this, just to give you, give our listeners a perspective, the halls, it’s, it’s over half a mile long from one end to the other.
And then across, it’s probably a quarter of a mile from one end to the other.
And if you can think of…
All of these halls, a very, very big complex is called the Excel in London.
[27:28] And there’s booths everywhere. And most of what you see are the countries or each of the halls will have like a region of the world.
And some regions expand over to more than one hall.
And you will have the, you know, Tourism Board of France, of Italy, and we’ll say in the European Hall.
But you’ll also have like individual operators could be hotel chains could be chauffeur services could be people who operate tours within Italy and it’s just a place where all of travel kind of comes together and That part of the show.
I don’t really spend much time because I don’t Really?
It’s nice to walk through and kind of see what’s new and I’ll kind of do a glance through but they have one call that’s about technology and distribution, which is where most of my meetings were with those folks, but it’s a great experience if you’re in the travel business to go, and I go, I don’t go every year, but I go probably two out of three years, but if you’re, it’s also, if you’re in that part of the world for the Thursday and Friday, and it’s always about the first week in November, it’s definitely worth going as a consumer because you can see and learn about a lot of different destinations and it maybe goes somewhere you may end up going somewhere based on the people that you meet and information that you get at World Travel Market. So great experience.
[28:53] Yeah I always want to see what the big wealthy countries do for displays because some of these booths are like you know small countries in themselves.
They’re so elaborate sometimes lots of technology.
The Middle Eastern countries are always very impressive, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and all of that. They have elaborate.
[29:17] I think Qatar was actually giving away shoes, like pairs of shoes with silk on the top and kind of sandals type things.
Yeah, the amount of money that’s spent there is, it’s hard to…
[29:31] And the technology hall that Mike and I usually go to has the latest innovations in travel and travel distribution, really interesting ideas, software companies, new ways to search for travel, new ways to deliver experiences.
So it’s always cool to meet with a lot of those folks and see what they have to offer and see what’s changing. So it’s very exciting that way.
[30:03] Yeah, and then they also have some breakout events where ministers of tourism for different countries will speak, and also CNN and the BBC always have a large presence there, and they do some interviews right in the middle of all this, too.
[30:22] And performances. They have some entertainment in various areas.
So, very, very fun. But exhausting. It is really huge. And there are so many people.
It’s like Disney World. The aisles and halls get so crowded.
[30:39] Then, finally, Mike and I came together in the Costa del Sol of Spain, in Malaga, particularly, and Torre Molinos, where we had a big mutual event for our company in teletravel and we had an incredible time.
Now we had business to do and lots of convention type activities going on, but that included some local entertainment which was really fun.
But the real star of the trip is the food in in Malaga and the beautiful surroundings.
I mean, the weather was perfect, maybe even a bit warmer for the time of year than it might normally be in Malaga, but who knows, the whole world is changing.
But it was Fahrenheit, it was close to 80 degrees during the day, and a very comfortable 60 something at night, sunny and blue skies and breezy and swaying palm trees and glistening ocean and or sea and just beautiful right Mike?
[31:53] Absolutely and the food was fantastic and relatively so inexpensive.
[32:03] How about a glass of wine right? Mike and I might occasionally partake of a glass of wine.
And here, a glass of wine was essentially cost, I think, the tax in New York. You know?
Surprisingly Cheap Wine in New York vs. Malaga
[32:19] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I sat down with a couple of people and we each had, we had one glass of white wine and we had somewhere to be. So we left and I said, Can I get the bill?
And the bill was nine euros.
So it’s like $9 and 50 cents for three glasses of, and we didn’t say, give us the cheap stuff.
I said, give me a nice Sauvignon Blanc.
And it was nine, nine euros.
So $9 and 50 cents for three glasses of wine. And this was not like, I mean, it was at a, a, you know, a Estro cafe, which you would expect to pay probably a little bit more than normal cuz it was in a pretty congested part of the downtown Malaga.
Exploring the Old City of Malaga
[33:05] So, Malaga, again, on the Costa del Sol, a lot of people know Malaga as an airport that you land in, in order to go to other parts of the Costa del Sol.
I met many people who’ve been to other of the resort cities, Benidorm and so on, in the Costa del Sol, and they had flown through Malaga, but they had never gone to Malaga, the old city itself, the port city, and a very important place in the area.
Beautiful cruise ship port. We saw several.
We saw the Emerald Azura there. We saw several. There was a Regent ship.
There was an MSC ship.
[33:48] So really beautiful port. We also saw some, you know, quarter -of -a -billion -dollar yachts in the port there, but there’s a beautiful promenade along the port, very touristy.
We recommend that you go inland into the old city and walk the, like many heavily Moorish -influenced cities, this part of Spain was heavily Arabic for a period of time.
You walk these tiny little alleys that sort of Byzantine -like alleys you can get lost in.
And there’s just café after shop after café after bistro after, you know, just a million of them.
And, of course, tapas is a big part of the culture in Spain and in this part of Spain too.
So you go into sometimes tiny little bars and they’re serving food.
Sometimes it’s complementary with your drink.
Sometimes you order it. You can try many different things.
Lots of seafood in this area.
So octopus and shellfish and all kinds of fish.
But the Spanish love their ham, don’t they?
[35:08] Iberico ham everywhere and lots of other pork products.
All of which I find delicious.
[35:18] Yeah, and anchovies, grilled anchovies, there was so much.
And the food just, it was just so fresh. And you would sit down, like for a meal, I always liked sharing food.
It’s just the way I was kind of brought up. And with this kind of tapas culture, you know, you don’t typically sit down and order a starter and then entree.
And look, I’m sure there’s a lot of restaurants in Malaga where you do, but I think generally, if you’re out dining with your friends, you just order, you know, there’s four of you, you order 10 tapas and they’re like two or three or $4 a piece.
So it’s not like you’re spending a fortune and you get to taste all these different things.
Grilled octopus, you know, anchovies, sardines, which typically I’m not a big fan of those things, but the way they were just so fresh and prepared in such a way, they were just, I mean, they would melt in your mouth.
[36:18] So the last night I was there, we went to a place that has a big history.
It’s called Chanita, and it is Picasso frequented there, other Spanish stars frequented there.
By the way, Antonio Banderas is from Malaga, and he’s an important presence there.
He owns several restaurants in the town, and I got to see where his penthouse is, right in the middle of Malaga, in the middle of all the tourist hubbub and activity, he has a penthouse on the top of a building.
But Chinita is very traditional, and all the top is very traditional.
We went on another night to that Palo Cortado, Mike, where it was a more modern version of food from the area.
So, very beautifully presented and sort of deconstructed ideas for the food. Also, very delicious.
So, there’s a wide range of things that you can try there.
Sightseeing and Rooftop Bars in Malaga
[37:20] There are several rooftops are very popular there because the weather is so beautiful and the sea is there.
So, the tops of many of the hotels have rooftop bars and that was a big part of the nightlife there. There’s an incredible cathedral in the middle of town.
There is an Arabic fortress and governor’s palace, historic, originally from parts of it from the 11th century.
[37:51] And really beautiful to visit and see. Outlooks if you go up to the mountain or you go out to the beach, incredible views back at the city.
[38:01] So like any city like that that you visit, sometimes it’s good to take a little sightseeing tour just to get yourself oriented and understand maybe what your options are to go back and spend more time in a particular area.
And again, that can be touristy up front, but it has its purpose.
They even, believe it or not, have the hop -on, hop -off bus in Malaga that Mike and I saw has a cruise component, right, where you get on a small ship and go out into the harbor, too.
So I don’t turn my nose down at that as a good way to introduce yourself to a city, but then go back and get real personal and up -close and go deeper into the city.
And I did my usual technique, which was I headed down what looked like to be the most complex part of the old city and got myself lost and then worked myself out again.
And in the process of doing that, you know, found some great little shops and a great little cafe and the market.
Mike, I eventually made my way over to the market. and I know you tried to get there one morning, but there is, guys, a market that has been on that site for centuries.
[39:23] The entrance to the market is actually a 14th century stone Arabic archway that originally led into a shipyard in the 14th century, but the area was reused after that as a market.
And in the 19th century, they built one of these steel cast iron and glass covers over the whole area.
Similar to the market we went to in Valencia.
Mike had that same style of cover.
And then you walk up and down the stalls of produce, of olives, of products like olive oil.
Then fresh fish, shellfish, meats, prepared foods, just an incredible array.
And it was a bit of a tease because you can’t bring most of that stuff back to the United States.
So here’s a real insider’s tip.
If you go to one of these beautiful.
[40:31] Towns in the Mediterranean Spain and Italy and France a market town where there is a place like that Go to the market on your first day So that you can buy some stuff and eat it all up before you leave I went on my last day and tortured myself and All I was thinking was how can I smuggle some of this back into the United States?
[40:59] You brought some olive oil back, I hope.
[41:02] I did bring olive oil, which you are allowed to do. You have to pack it in your hold luggage, in your checked suitcase.
And I wrapped it up as best I can because I was petrified that it would break and ruin all my clothing.
But it made it just fine. And Spanish olive oil, guys, my friends who are chefs, tell me that that is the best olive oil. Now, I’m Italian.
I would like to think that Italian is the best.
I’m sure my Greek friends would like to think that Greek olive oil is the best.
But apparently, Spanish olive oil is the best.
I’ll let you know when I start cooking with it.
We enjoyed some local entertainment too.
And what’s really interesting about the culture there, as I said, is heavily influenced by Arabic culture, but also by North Africa, by the rest of the Mediterranean.
There was a time when this part of the world, this coast of Spain, was ruled by Romans and before that by Greeks.
The Cultural Influence on Food, Music, and Architecture
[42:06] So, and this is common in the Mediterranean to have this complex cultural history which affects the food, it affects the music, it affects the architecture, right?
So we had some, we heard some great music and the music sounds, it has moments where it sounds very African to me.
You can hear the sort of influence in the music. So, and flamenco dancing comes from Malaga, from what they call a gypsy tradition in Malaga.
So we had some flamenco dancers.
I don’t know, maybe even Mike, you tried to dance a little flamenco late in the evening after a few.
[42:51] Actually, I did not, but it is a beautiful dance, that’s for sure.
And, you know, just talking about Malaga, when I was in London before I went to Malaga, and I had several meetings, and I was telling people, hey, my next stop’s Malaga.
And they were like, ooh, you’re going to Malaga? Wow, why are you going to Malaga?
And they were kind of, and these were travel industry people as well.
But, man, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a great destination.
[43:20] I did too. The thing is that, you know, it’s a very big destination for the UK to go to the Costa del Sol, to go to Spain in general.
It’s inexpensive, it’s close, so it’s always been very, very popular.
But UK people tend to travel on packaged tours. That’s the way they do it, packaged vacations.
And so they wind up in these resorts outside of Malaga and sort of never leave the resort. It’s that kind of vacation and I think that’s why people don’t know, there’s this beautiful, you know, historic city center in Malaga at the port.
And one night, this was so interesting, so I have to mention it, something for you guys to look for if you ever get to this part of the world.
There’s a Picasso Museum, right? And of course, there’s a Malaga Museum and there are other museums there that are wonderful.
The Picasso Museum put Malaga on the I mean, it was part of what made it famous.
Picasso was born there and spent his childhood in Malaga. So very important to them.
But we took over one night the Automotive and Fashion Museum.
[44:34] And when I heard that was coming up, I thought something’s wrong.
These two things don’t go together.
So it was a really unique idea for a museum. They have 90 antique cars, which are beautiful.
If you’re into cars like me and like Mike, you’ll find that fascinating.
But paired with each car is a display of fashions or a mannequin dressed up with the clothing, either from that period or that matches kind of the complementary to the style of the car.
So there’s Chanel, and Dior, and all these, and then there’s period fashion.
So it was so interesting. You saw a car that looked like it was out of the great Gatsby.
You know, one of these great Italian, long, 1910, you know, limousine type cars.
And then next to it, a mannequin of a woman dressed in the fashion of that time, of a very wealthy woman. It’s just a really cool idea to pair these two things.
[45:44] And we added to that a splashy dinner and a big DJ.
So we had quite the night there. But look for the Museum of Automobiles and Fashion.
Affordable Hotels and High-Value Vacation in Malaga
[45:56] And the other thing we should talk about is hotels.
So I would say about every 10 feet that you walk in Malaga is a hotel.
[46:07] And so there is no shortage.
[46:09] Sandwich between the cafes. Yeah. I was going to say, even for people listening to the podcast from Europe, there’s a lot of low cost carriers to get there, but even people from the US, even if you flew, if you were doing a trip to London, let’s say, there were round trip airfares for around $100 from London to Malaga.
So it could be something where you go for three or four nights.
And hotels, I did a little bit of research and like in the center of Malaga, booking in advance, there were four star hotels for 89 euros a night.
So call that, it’s less than a hundred dollars, but call it a hundred bucks a night for being in the middle.
And when I say in the middle, I mean dead in the middle of, of Malaga.
And the food, you know, great quality food. There’s lots to do, lots to see.
You could have a really high -value vacation, you know, on your next European holiday, where you splinter off and just spend three or four days, three or four days there in Malaga.
So I’d been there once before, and I’d been there, yeah, I’d been there to pick up a cruise ship, so I didn’t spend much time there, but I will go back to Malaga. I did enjoy it that much.
[47:30] I would too, and I will say that everything was so reasonably priced.
As you mentioned, the hotels, the food, even the Ubers were very inexpensive and plentiful, by the way, for those of you who like to get around that way, and I do, it’s good to know that Ubers are very prevalent there and very inexpensive.
I would make one hotel reservation, recommendation, excuse me.
I stayed in the Only You Hotel in Malaga, which is right on the port, overlooking the water, overlooking the Central Park there.
You walk across the street into the Old Town and all the big shopping and so on.
And it has a rooftop bar. It has an excellent couple of restaurants in it.
But the thing about it is it’s part of a small chain of hotels throughout.
[48:21] Spain, is that it was really high -style, beautifully designed, and everything from the lobbies and restaurants to the rooms, the service was superb, which by the way we found all over Malaga, but in this particular, I can vouch for it, in this particular hotel and their, I met with several of their executives to learn more about the chain, again we have no commercial agreement with them. They’re not paying us or anything.
[48:51] And I paid for my own room. They didn’t comp me. But I would really consider these hotels in any of the locations they’re in, which I think include Barcelona and other big cities.
And then of course, along the Costa del Sol and many of the resorts.
But it’s called the Only You chain. And one thing, just to show you how thoughtful they are about hotels. When you walk in, you are not in the hotel lobby and there is no reception desk.
You walk into the restaurant and a sort of lounge area in the hotel, and that’s purposeful.
You actually have to walk through that and kind of around the corner into a private hall that is set up for reception and also has lounges, and they’ll serve you a glass of cava, which is the champagne -style sparkling wine from Spain.
And it all feels very, very high -hospitality.
They want to welcome people into the hotel, who are also not necessarily guests of the hotel, and enjoy that portion of the hotel.
And then for you to have your reception be very private, further inside the hotel. And I really really liked that.
Everything about the stay was great, and as you said, reasonable.
So, take a look at that, Only You Hotels.
[50:16] Put it on your bucket list.
Well, James, we’ve got to wrap up. We were talking about our travel so much, we’ve run over a little bit.
But hopefully, our listeners were able to get some good tidbits from that.
And hopefully, we’ll be able to see the beautiful coast of Spain in an upcoming trip.
[50:37] Jessica was with us in Spain, we should say.
And so we probably, everyone has come back from this trip. I can’t explain why, but everyone has come back kind of tired.
Exhausting Schedule in Malaga
[50:47] I mean, for you guys who came over for four or five days, trying to get yourself in sync, you know, with a six hour, seven hour time, it was seven hour time difference and then every day, you know, that we had, we were teaching classes or presenting from stage and then there were, you know, cocktail parties at night that we needed to go and entertain people.
So it’s, it’s a lot of hours and to do so without really having a down day of rest, but just go, go, go.
It’s tiring. Luckily for me, I was in the time zone, so it wasn’t quite as hard on my body. But a great trip.
[51:26] I want everyone to feel sorry for us that we were in Malaga and tired.
Wrapping Up and Thanking Our Listeners
[51:34] All right.
[51:35] Well, it’s been great to share with you guys, and I hope you find some value in our advice and our tips.
That’s what we’re here for at No Tourists Allowed, to help you travel in a way that creates even better memories for you and creates a real sense of place when you visit somewhere and better all -around experience.
So thank you so much for being with us this week. Don’t forget about our Virgin Voyages cruise giveaway for two.
That’s amazing, beautiful, premium cruise, great experience, and you can get it all for free just by going to our website notouristallowed .com, and you have several different paths to get your entries in for that drawing coming up soon.
[52:20] Yeah, we’ll be giving that away in the next few weeks, so stick around.
Next week, there’ll be another opportunity for you to earn an entry into that giveaway, and share this with your friends, and travel great, and be safe. Until next time.
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