Guest Blogger: Caroline Cunningham
Spain and the Costa Del Sol, have you been? And if yes, did you visit Ronda? It has to be one of the high-lights of that region. A town, high in the mountains built around a deep gorge with spectacular views from vantage points along its fantastic bridges.
Ronda is not for the faint hearted. The journey, by bus, is a steep upward climb towards the clouds, offering stunning vistas along the way.
I made my booking with a tour company who had a representative in Fuengirola. Begoňa Alonso was very helpful in assisting me, a solo traveller. The bus arrived promptly at 8.30a.m., with passengers from other coastal towns already aboard.
Our tour guide provided information in three languages throughout the trip, taking us first on a walking tour around the medieval centre of Marbella. Here, I enjoyed the intrigue of passing through the narrow cobbled alleys with displays of potted geraniums and oranges abundantly dangling from the trees along our route. As we passed by coffee shops with wafting tempting aromas I longed to sneak in and order a quick take-away cuppa, our guide was quite agile however and I did not dare to fall behind. A shop window displaying exquisite foot wear captured my attention too.
Further up the mountain we took a ‘comfort stop’ in a not-so-interesting joint with opportunity for swift coffee and dry cookies.
There were many nationalities and ages represented in our group. I found company amongst the English speaking members from London (UK) and Waterford (Ireland). You had to be quick to keep up with our guide in Ronda. Fair play to the man who, relied on a crutch to relieve his sore knee and who got around with a cheerful gait.
As we stood at the corner of the first bridge looking into the deep ravine, so dramatic against the sheer cliffs on the opposite side, my breath was truly taken away. One of our company, affected by vertigo was unable to stand so close. I became paranoid about losing my sunglasses and my camera phone to the gorge but I braved a few photos and managed to look down while keeping a tight grip on my belongings.
Similar to Marbella, Ronda reflects the influence of its previous rulers and inhabitants. The Romans, Arabs and Christians have all left their mark by way of customs and architecture in the region. There was even a relic of the Incas of Peru adorning one of the buildings we observed. Along the hilly cobbled streets we marvelled at the structure of churches, museums and towers and peeped through the doorways of salubrious homes with porches designed to keep its residents cool during the hottest of days.
The announcement of our arrival to the winery, along our walking trail, brought a wide smile to many faces. In contrast, only a few of us opted to visit the infamous bull ring. Whether it is the oldest bull-ring in Spain (as the town claims) or not, it is the home of a particular school of bull-fighting, and a famous bull-fighter named Pedro Romero.
While we admired the sand-stone columns from the centre of the arena we were reminded too of the bloody scenes that resulted in victory and death combined. The costumes displayed in the museum are works of art and high-lighted the slight figures of the bull-fighters from the 1780’s onwards.
Such a lengthy tour provided an appetite for sampling the food and beverages of the area. Riocha wine was certainly a favourite with our group. I nibbled on Ronda cheese and bread roll dipped in olive oil, while my table partners allowed me to sample their ox’s tail and tomato salads.
I was half-way down the mountain on the coach when I realised I had left my head-band (to which I am quite attached) on the back of the chair in the restaurant. I thought it was worth a try to get it back. My tour guide seemed to understand my awkward Spanish better than my English request. It appeared the waiter who answered the phone in Ronda, did indeed have my headband. Thanks to Begoňa, it arrived by post a week later at my home in Ireland, a well-travelled head-band with its own adventure.
I am most grateful to Brenda Bergin (Seniorpreneurs Ireland, @DigiGranBiz) for enticing me to visit the Costa Del Sol during December 2016. I was seeking to escape the dark days of winter and the calamity of the Christmas season back home. I wanted to do some writing and reflection after a challenging and busy year. Brenda offered me her Spanish home for the duration of my trip. She only asked that I visit the places that she had not been able to visit in person, due to past ill-health.
I hope my friend will be enticed to visit Ronda once fully recovered.
If you have already been to Ronda, what was the high-light for you?
Thank you for reading!
Thank you Brenda for inviting me as your guest-blogger (:
Artist, Writer, Authentic Reflexology Owner and Therapist