We left Granada bright and early (actually not bright as the sun wasn't up yet) to catch the bus and train to Ronda. We opted for the 6:45 am train in order to make the most of our time in Ronda, but unfortunately the weather had other ideas. The south of Spain has been experiencing a drought, so of course it was raining. After catching a taxi to the station so we wouldn't get too wet we caught the bus back to where we had changed from the train on the way to Granada and then transferred to the train which took us all the way to Ronda.
There are remains of Neolitic Age settlements around Ronda, including the Cueva de la Pileta caves. Ronda was first settled by the Celts, then Phoenician, then of course the Romans in the 5th century BC (to which much of the present day layout of Ronda is attributed to). It was then conquered by the Visigoths and remained under their control until it was conquered by the Moors in 713. It was reconquered by the Christians in 1485. In the early 19th century it was conquered by Napoleon. As with much of Spain
it suffered greatly during the Spanish Civil War. More recently the town has become a tourist hub largely due to it's spectacular clifftop location, El Tajo gorge and the beautiful scenery which surrounds the town but also because Ernest Hemingway and Orson Wells both helped to make the town famous after spending many summers there.
We arrived in Ronda about 2.5 hours after we had left Granada. It was still raining but wasn't too heavy so we walked the 20 minutes to our guesthouse in the rain. Along the way we passed the bull fighting ring (Ronda is considered the birthplace of modern bullfighting), parts of the old city, churches (of course) and Puerte Nuevo (the new bridge constructed in 1700's).
After dropping our bags off at the guesthouse we got a lift back to a churros restaurant recommended by the owners of the guesthouse. We ordered a serve of churros and a hot chocolate each. The churros and hot chocolate were the perfect thing for a cold rainy day, though we're not sure our arteries enjoyed them as much.
After our churros we went for a walk around the town which was pretty quiet due to
the miserable weather. We did manage to check out one of the viewing points near the bull ring which has a lovely view back towards the Puerte Nuevo and the town.
We stopped at a local restaurant which had been recommended by the guesthouse owners for lunch. We ordered chicken skewers, prawn rice, mushroom croquettes and some cheese. The food was quite good, though not the best we'd had.
After lunch we headed back to the guesthouse to check in to our room. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and reading books as the rain didn't appear to be letting up anytime soon.
That night for dinner we went to a small tapas restaurant close to out hotel. We ordered a chicken skewer, patatas bravas, grilled asparagus, roasted octopus with mashed potatoes, prawns, pork salad and a taco as well as some gin and tonic sorbet for dessert. Everything was delicious; they were the bet patatas bravas of the trip. The food was so nice and the restaurant was so conveniently located that we decided we'd come back again the next night.
The following morning we decided to do a walk through down to
the valley which runs through Ronda. We left from our hotel and walked down a steep and long path until we were about half way down. We stopped to take some photos of the Puerte Nuevo before continuing to the bottom of the valley. We walked past some farms before we headed back up the hill on the other side of the town (despite both agreeing that we should just live in one of the farm houses so we didn't have to walk back up). The walk was really beautiful; the scenery around the town is so spectacular with lovely rolling hills and rocky mountains.
Once we made it back up the hill we walked back through the town (in the rain again) until we found a restaurant with a menu of the day which looked OK. We sat down and ordered (salad, chicken and flan for me and soup, fish and rice pudding for Scott). The food wasn't the best we've had but it was fairly cheap. The rain didn't appear to be stopping anytime soon so once again we headed back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the afternoon.
Before dinner we went
out to take some photos of the old city wall and gates to the town and walk along the wall. Fortunately the weather had cleared up a bit so the view was pretty good. We then returned to the same restaurant were we ordered grilled vegetables, patatas bravas, salmorejo (cold tomato soup with bread and garlic), tuna, ox tail pastels, pork belly and Baileys ice cream for dessert. Once again the food was delicious.
The weather had cleared up for our final day in Ronda (and Spain); the sky was blue and the town was busy with tourists. We ended up back at the same churros restaurant from the first day as not much else was open for breakfast. Scott ordered bread with olive oil and tomato and I ordered churros with hot chocolate (sorry arteries).
After breakfast we walked back to our hotel via the bull fighting ring. After checking out we made our way down past the Arab baths, across the Roman Bridge (actually built by the Moors) and up through the town to the Jardines de Cuenca which are perched along the edge of the clifftop with spectacular views over the El Tajo gorge and
the town. We slowly made our way up the gardens until we reached Puerte Nuevo.
We then walked to Plaza Duquesa de Parcent and grabbed a table at one of the restaurants around the Plaza. We ordered some tapas and a sandwich as well as some sangria and then sat back and enjoyed the sunshine and people watching while we ate. It was a very enjoyable final lunch in Spain.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and the made our way to the train station. About two hours after boarding the town we arrived in Algeciras. The journey was very enjoyable as we passed gorgeous scenery along the way.
After arriving in Algeciras we left the train and hopped straight on a bus headed to Tarifa, our final destination in Spain. On the half hour trip from Algeciras we saw Gibraltar and Morocco from the bus.
Once we arrived in Tarifa we headed straight to our hotel to check in. We then walked to the port to check out where we'd need to catch the ferry to Morocco from the following morning.
That night we had a lovely final
meal in Spain. We had eggplant with tomato jam and goats cheese, chicken skewers and salad, meatballs in tomato sauce as well as patatas bravas. The food was delicious, though we both decided we'd miss the Spanish food (and wine and beer).
After dinner we headed back to the hotel to have an early night so we wouldn't miss our 9am ferry to start the second phase of our trip.
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