Packing cubes are a great way to stay organized when traveling. I have been using Tortuga’s packing cubes, and here are my thoughts:
The Tortuga packing cubes are perfectly designed to fit in my Tortuga backpack. I have one large cube and two smaller cubes, and their dimensions are well designed to work with my bag without taking up all of the bag space, leaving room to put things in front of or behind them.
I can use the cubes to divide things by category and keep them organized. For example, I can use one for shirts, another for shorts/pants, and another for toiletries.
The tortuga packing cubes have a mesh top that allows me to see a glimpse inside, so I can quickly and easily see what I have put in each cube.
The Tortuga packing cubes are equipped with straps that allow me to easily grab them and/or pull them out of my bag.
It is tough to find a disadvantage to using packing cubes, but if I had to pick one I would point out that the Tortuga packing cubes are not waterproof. However, if you are looking for something waterproof to put in your bag I would recommend the Sea-to-Summit Dry Bag instead. Personally, I use the Dry Bag to store anything I want to make sure I keep dry (like electronics), and I use the packing cubes for things like clothes and toiletries.
I would highly recommend packing cubes for travelers that want to stay organized. They make packing and unpacking easier and more convenient.
What I did and saw:
Plaza de España-
Sitting in the Parque de Maria Luisa, Seville’s Plaza de España was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The semi-circle structure features shout outs to regions all around Spain. It is a beautiful place that has been featured in movies such as Star Wars: Episode II and Lawrence of Arabia.
Holy Week Processions-
I was in Seville during Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter. Similar to other parts of Andalusia, during this week in Seville there are numerous processions, where people (penitents) parade through the city wearing what appear to be KKK outfits. It was quite a shock to see, and many of the penitents are also barefoot. Also, some penitents carry floats depicting religious scenes.
Sandemans Free Walking Tour-
As I have done in a variety of other cities, I went on a Sandemans Free Walking Tour while in Seville. It started in the beautiful Plaza del Salvador and ended in the picturesque Plaza España. It was a nice way to get a recommendations, context, background, and other interesting facts about the city.
Plaza del Triunfo-
Many of the most impressive landmarks in Seville surround the Plaza del Triunfo. The Seville Cathedral, known as the Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, is a beautiful building. Across the plaza is the beautiful Alcazar, which has been featured in Game of Thrones. Due to its proximity to some of the main sites in Seville, the Plaza del Triunfo is a beautiful place that most visitors to Seville will likely pass through at some point.
Seville has what is said to be one of the largest wooden framed structures in the world. Resembling giant mushrooms, the “Setas de la Encarnación” structure is an interesting place to visit. Also, due to the relatively flat landscape of Seville, there are some nice views of the city from the top of the “Setas.”
While it has been exported to other parts of Iberia and throughout the world, Flamenco originated in the Seville area. Its origins are somewhat disputed, but it is believed to have been started by gypsies in the eighteenth century. Due to its Mediterranean location and proximity to Africa, the Andalusia area has allowed for an interesting mix of cultures that in part led to the Flamenco music and dance style. I had the opportunity to see a Flamenco show in the Triana neighborhood, and it is the best Flamenco show I have seen and worth checking out.
Where I ate and drank:
Torch Coffee Roasters-
Set next to the Canal de Alfonso XII, Torch Coffee Roasters is a great place to get a coffee. While I was there I had a high quality cold brew and club sandwich. They also offer other filter options such as V60s and a variety of espresso based options. There is a good amount of seating, and while I was there they also offered tasty alfajores (dulce de leche pastry).
Just around the corner from the hostel I was staying at in Seville was Cerveceria Internacional. They offer a nice variety of well priced tapas and montaditos, which are small, usually grilled, and often times open faced sandwiches. And as their name would suggest, they also have a very nice international beer selection in addition to some good wines including the Orange Wine made from local bitter oranges.
Located near the Metropol Parasol, Virgin Coffee is a take away coffee place with great coffee and service. They have limited seating, but there are places to sit in the area around the shop.
Just down the street from Virgin Coffee is La Jeronima. It is a place that sells books, craft beer, food, and espresso drinks. They have great food prices, good craft beer options, as well as paintings, mugs, and shirts for sale. It also has good wifi, which makes it a nice place to get some work done.
Hops & Dreams and Bier Kraft-
Both Hops & Dreams and Bier Kraft are great places to get craft beer, food, or just hang out. Hops & Dreams even had some legitimately spicy food, which is uncharacteristic for Spain, and Bier Kraft had some fun board games available to use.
Where I stayed:
Black Swan Hostel Seville-
Overall, Black Swan was a very good place to stay in Seville. There were no curtains on the hostel beds, but they were comfortable and there were outlets for every bed. They served a free dinner for hostel guests, and after the dinner they had a free Flamenco show. I was even able to get out of my comfort zone and join in on the show and try some of the dancing myself.
How I got around:
I arrived in Seville by bus from Granada (unfortunately there was not a great Granada-Seville train route). Once in Seville I walked to get around and see the city and its impressive architecture. When I left Seville I caught a bus to the airport (which was fairly convenient) and catch a plane.
My favorite thing:
I had some great food and drink while in Seville, and I was only able to sample a small part of the culinary offerings in the city. I also got to see some impressive architecture in the city. My favorite part of Seville is the unique mix of cultures that shows itself in theses ways.
My least favorite thing:
It would be nice if trains between major cities in southern Spain were more conveniently linked, but it is still significantly better than the train system in planes like North America.
For next time:
There are quite a few things I would like to do next time I am in Seville. While I was able to see the outside of the Alcazar and the Seville Cathedral, I would like to see them from the inside. Also, I would like to visit some of the food markets in Seville.
I bought my REI Pinecliff Rain Coat a few years ago and I have travelled with it frequently. Here are my thoughts on it:
I have worn my REI Pinecliff Rain Coat many times in the rain, and it has held up well. If I am in a tropical storm for an extended period of time some water might get through, but otherwise it keeps me nice and dry.
My REI Pinecliff Rain Coat is great in a variety of different temperatures. It is a bit uncomfortable to wear on a humid summer day, and it doesn’t provide enough warmth for below freezing temperatures, but it works well for most temperatures between those two.
I like the option to have the hood when it is raining, and I like the ability to take it off when it isn’t. Unfortunately one of the buttons on the hood attachment has broken, but it still work ok for me as of now.
Lots of pockets-
Originally I was going to purchase either the Baubax travel jacket that was prominently featured on Kickstarter, the Scott-e-vest jacket featured on Shark Tank or the REI Pinecliff Rain Coat (that I ended up buying). However, after reading some negative reviews about the Baubax jacket I decided to trust the reputation of the REI brand and go with their jacket. I do think there are some good Scott-e-vest options, and Baubax has come out with a new edition of their jacket, but the REI Pinecliff Rain Coat has held up well for me. It has 6 different pockets that I can use to carry a variety of different things in.
The REI Pinecliff Rain Coat has been very durable for me. With the exception of one of the buttons on the hood attachment breaking, there are no real signs of wear and tear after a couple of years of use. It is nice to have clothing items I can wear for a variety of different activities or throw in a bag without worrying they will get damaged.
If I ever do get my REI Pinecliff Rain Coat, I can just throw it in the washing machine, let it hang dry, and it is good as new.
As I mentioned above, one of the buttons on the hood attachment broke, but there are no other signs of wear and tear after a couple of years of use.
Rain can soak through in a downpour-
If you are stuck in a tropical storm for an extended period of time water will eventually soak through. However, if you are planning on being stuck in a tropical storm for an extended period of time I would recommend a high performance jacket instead anyway.
Not good for every temperature-
As I mentioned above, the REI Pinecliff Rain Coat is not good for below freezing temperatures or for extremely hot temperatures, but it is good for a wide range in the middle.
My REI Pinecliff Rain Coat has been and continues to be an excellent jacket, and I would highly recommended it. It is not available to directly purchase through REI anymore, but it can be found on some re-sell sites (for an even cheaper price!).
What I did and saw:
Castillo de Gibralfaro-
The Gibralfaro castle is a great place to walk up to. It offers some amazing views of the city, the ocean, and the mountains. It is also a very historic place with construction dating as far back as 770BC!
Alcazaba de Malaga and Jardines de Puerta Oscura-
An Alcazaba is the term for a Moorish fortification inside a city. The Alcazaba of Malaga was built in the early 11th century and is one of the most well preserved Alcazabas in Spain. There are also some Roman ruins by the Alcazaba that date back to the first century BC. The Jardines de Puerta Oscura, or Gardens of the Dark Gate, is a nice area to explore or to just sit and admire the ocean views. The Alcazaba is free to enter after 2pm on Sundays, but only costs a few euros on other days/times.
Museo Picasso Malaga-
Prior to living in Barcelona and Paris, Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga. While many of his works are now in cities such as New York and Madrid, there is still a good collection of his works in the museum in the city he was born in. The museum is free to enter during the last two hours it is open on Sundays, which was when I was able to visit.
Catedral de la Encarnacion de Malaga-
The Malaga Cathedral is a beautiful building located in the city center, but its construction was never finished. After one of the cathedral’s towers was completed, the money for the construction of the second tower was diverted elsewhere (there is some disagreement on exactly where it was diverted to). Because of this, some locals now call the building “La Manquita,” which roughly translates to “The one-armed lady.”
Mercado Central de Ataranzanas-
The central market in Malaga is a beautiful building that offers a variety of different foods for sale. There are also a good number of places to get something to eat or drink around the market.
Where I ate and drank:
Bodega Bar El Pimpi-
Around the corner from the Picasso Musuem, Bodega Bar El Pimpi is a nice, local, wine and tapas bar. It is worth checking out on a visit to Malaga.
I had a nice, tasty dinner at Los Gatos. It was also located right around the corner from The Urban Jungle Hostel.
Mia Coffee Shop-
Mia Coffee Shop is one of my favorite coffee spots, not just in Malaga, but anywhere. The coffee is delicious and the service is excellent. They don’t have much of a food menu, but what they do offer in terms of food is super tasty. I highly recommend stopping by this cozy little place if you are in Malaga.
Casa Mira is a historic place that serves ice cream and turrons. It is located on the beautiful Calle Marques de Larios.
Santa Canela Cafe-
Santa Canela Cafe is an excellent coffee shop in Malaga. They serve quality coffee, and I had a Chemex brew while I was there. I also at a “Pitufo,” which literally translates to “Smurf,” but it is the local term used for a type of sandwich unique to Malaga.
Cafeteria Bertani Cafe-
Cafeteria is another little spot in downtown Malaga that serves craft coffee.
El Rincón Del Cervecero, La Botica de la Cerveza, Cerveceria Arte&Sana, and Central Beers-
Despite its relative size, Malaga offers some great options for craft beer. Also, the Beer-amisu at Central Beers was super tasty.
Antigua Casa de Guardia-
Located close to the Mercado Central de Ataranzanas, the Antigua Casa de Guaria is a unique, rustic spot. It features a simple long bar that stretches almost the entire length of the space. Behind the bar are barrels of different types of wine to choose from. They also offer a small selection of food. One of the unique things about the place is they write your tab on the bar in front of you with chalk, then add it up when it is time to pay. It is an great, inexpensive place to try some local wine and snacks.
Where I stayed:
Picnic Dreams Botique Hostel-
I only stayed one night at Picnic Dreams Botique Hostel. Overall, it was a nice, comfortable place to stay. However, due to its downtown location (which is very convenient) it can get a bit noisy outside at night. There is also a very nice cafe in the lobby of the hostel.
The Urban Jungle Hostel-
I was very happy with my stay at The Urban Jungle Hostel. The staff were super nice and helpful. It is well located in the city center. Also, each of the dorm beds had curtains on them (which not enough hostels do).
How I got around:
I flew to get to Malaga, and took the metro to get downtown. The metro was clean and easy to use. Once in the city I walked to get around, enjoy the city, and take in the sites.
My favorite thing:
The weather in Malaga was very nice while I was there, and the downtown area is very walkable. I really enjoyed stopping at Antigua Casa de Guardia, and Mia Coffee Shop is my favorite coffee spot in Andalusia.
My least favorite thing:
There is not much to dislike about Malaga, but I’ve heard it can get crazy hot in the summer. Also, it may not be as big as other cities like Barcelona, London, or Chicago, but there are still a good amount of things to do and see and eat and drink.
For next time:
Next time in Malaga I would like to check out the beach, because I didn’t get a chance to last time I was there. I would also like to go outside of town to visit the Caminito del Rey if I got the chance.
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