A day out in RondaMarch 20 in Spain
At 32km away, Ronda was the large town closest to the villa. It was another of those days where the weather didn't know what it was doing, let alone the weather forecasters, so we thought a drive and trip to a settlement would be ideal. The sun shone bright on the lush green landscape as Paul maneuvered the car out of El Balcon with Cath, us and Poppy. The grass almost seemed to glow with the recent glut of rain and the hills were bobbled with grids of neatly pruned olive trees.
Checking the road that led around the north east of the Zahara-El Gastor reserviour was still closed, we took the detour along the south west side, via the little Pueblo Blanco of Zahara, its distinctive castle clinging to a cliff, that raised it head and shoulders above the white houses. After pulling over to admire views over the blue, but mud tinged water, we set of again, only to find the road ahead was also shut. Landslides and subsidence caused by the unusually high rainfall have really taken their toll on the area. The 2nd detour took us in the opposite direction of our destination, to the extent that we turned around and tried to go a different route, only to find our way barred. What started off as a 32km drive turned out to be nearly 70km!
Paul was great taking this extended journey in his stride and there were some beautiful sights along the way. We'd been watching Griffin Vultures around the house but today we got to see Egyptian Vultures, also known as Pharaoh's Chickens. The landcape was fertile and there was plenty of livestock farming, with sheep, goats chickens and cows as well as horses and donkeys. Interestingly we saw an area growing cork oaks, the bark on their trunks peeled back, a process that is carried out once every 9 or so years.
Parking in Ronda was a lot more straightforward than in Seville the previous day. We worked our way through the unremarkable streets of the new town towards the original settlement, separated from us by a steep ravine. We found a bar-restaurant for lunch and were shown through to the quaint back room, with red and green painted wooden furniture and matching check pattern tablecloths. The food was good with Vicky enjoying the Andalucian speciality of gazpacho for starters and Will, a succulent leg of kid for mains.
Warmed up and refuelled we continued down the main street until we reached the large white walls of Ronda's bull ring. None of us approved of the activity so we gave it as little attention as possible and carried on by the few little tourist stalls to the railings, past which the earth fell away precipitously to a flat valley floor 100m below. The Guadalevín river ran close to the foot of the cliff but we could see over the flat plain for tens of kilometres to the low hills that formed the horizon. The sunlight was brilliant but its warmth hadn't impacted much on the air, whose heat was effectively sapped by the icy wind so we didn't hang around too long.
Working our way round the edge of the cliff we came to the Puente Nuevo; a 98m high stone bridge whose three arches span the El Tajo gorge that separates the Ciudad, or old town, from the new. We were surprised to see Choughs flying about below us, we associated these charismatic crows with mountains in Austria and Germany. Crossing the bridge, we had great fun leaning over the stone walls and black painted iron railings to see what was below.
The brightly lit whitewashed houses of the original settlement provided an amazing contrast to the intensely dark grey sky brooding above. As we made our way up the winding cobbled streets the clouds broke and by the time we'd re-entered the new town it was hailing on us!
At the supermarket on the way home we stocked up with wood, looking forward once again to the crackling heat of the villa's open fire.Read more