Ignoble Maiden

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

After hitting three museums in one morning, it was time for lunch. Lynn pointed out a place near the Plaza Zocodover, the central plaza, which had giant posters of tapas and beer.

“I don’t know,” I said leerily.  “It seems like restaurants with giant posters always turn out to offer defrosted, pre-packaged foods that pander to the lowest common denominator—no flavor, no color ….”

But Lynn was pushing her way in the door.  There was nothing special about the décor, but the first thing we noted after seating ourselves at a table was how the people who came in after us were greeted by name by the young woman behind the counter, who also appeared to be a local.  They sat at the counter and chatted with one another.

We sat at the table for a few minutes like baby birds waiting to be fed, then realized we had to get up and pick out our own food.  Valeria, according to her name tag, was friendly but busy, pointing at the offerings and describing them.  I caught about every fourth word and repeated them in English for Lynn’s benefit.

“Something with ham, pulpo—octopus; cerdo—pork; ensalada de pavo con naranja—turkey salad with orange; something with ham; salmón—salmon .…”

“Yes, I can see it’s salmon!” Lynn said.  “I think the idea is to just order an assortment.”

Using her excellent pointing and smiling skills, Lynn soon had us supplied with six different plates.

The food was nearly as good as that of the Alhambra Palace, but instead of being on  a terrace with a view of the city, our table was next to the bathroom door.

Now, this wasn’t just any bathroom door.  It had no sign on it, so we watched as a stream of people (if you’ll forgive the word stream) who weren’t regulars asked where the bathroom was, then stood indecisively in front of the door after being directed to it by Valeria.

Was it coed?  Were there more doors inside?  They would tentatively give it a push, stare, go in, then come out looking a bit rattled.  I had to know what was going on in there.  It couldn’t be any worse than the toilet in the Syrian restaurant, could it?

It turned out to be coed and it had some kind of apparatus that looked like an oil rig that surrounded the toilet and filled the room.  It had red knobs, blue hoses, levers, pull chains, and all sorts of warnings and instructions in all 24 EU languages.

I don’t know about you, but in this kind of situation I am always very tempted to pull a lever or push a button just to see what happens.  I resisted the urge, mainly because there was no lock on the door.  Probably, whichever button I pressed would make it fly open, exposing nosy me to the entire restaurant.

After lunch, we wandered around trying to find things.  We found the giant escalator cut into the hillside.

“Where does it go?” Lynn pondered.

“Who knows?” I replied unhelpfully.

“Let’s go!” we agreed.

About halfway down there was an entrance to an underground parking garage.  At the bottom was … nothing except a sign: “To Tourist Bus Stops.”

“Well that was exciting!” declared Lynn.

“Yes.  Let’s go back up.”

And so we did.

More wandering. I took lots of photos of balconies and other street scenes.

We passed this place with a skyway which was marked on the map as the “Royal College of Noble Maidens.”

There was no indication of whether it was a historic site or still operational.  It was deserted; maybe the noble maidens were on break in Malaga.

That evening we ate in the hotel restaurant.  We were the first ones there when it opened at 8:00 p.m. but a few minutes later two men our age were seated at a nearby table.  I assumed they were gay until I caught one staring at me.  Was he flirting?  Did he think I was a freak?  After all these years of life I still can never tell.

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