Monday, 1 October 2012

Ronda

Sunday

The sun is out again, and after a quick swim in the pool at the Parador de Nerja, we set off for Ronda, a two hour drive starting along the coast to Málaga, then inland westwards through attractive rolling hills dotted with whitewashed towns with Moorish forts.
"Pliny the Elder called Ronda 'the Glorious' two thousand years ago, and the description still holds."
[Thomas Cook Driving Guide to Andalucia and the Costa del Sol]
The El Tajo gorge in Ronda

The white city sits on a limestone shelf cleft by the El Tajo gorge, which separates la Ciudad from el Mercadillo, old from new, Moorish from Spanish, commerce from heritage, tourists from working people. Three bridges span the Rio Guadalevin - the low Puente Arabe, seventeenth century Puente Viejo, and eighteenth century Puente Nuevo, 120m above the river. We are staying at the Parador, the former town hall situated right at the top of the gorge next to the Puente Nuevo and the bull ring. Pedro Romero reinvited the corrida here in the late eighteenth century, and killed more than 5000 bulls in his career. Each year the Corrida Goyesca recreates the original Ronda bullfight in period costume, although that's in September, so we had to be content with just a look round the empty corrida.

We have a luxurious suite, with possibly the best views from any hotel in Europe, but we venture out and explore the Ciudad and try out a few tapas bars. Tagas Tapas is an excellent haute cuisine example, just across the road from the hotel, with exquisite amuse-bouches such as pig cheek with potato spume.

The downstairs living area of our "Junior Duplex Suite"

Monday

We take advantage of our luxurious suite to take it easy today, and pop out for a gentle walk to take some photos of the spectacular setting. We spend some time watching birds of prey sailing on the updrafts above the hotel, which were probably vultures and hawks, but maybe kites and eagles - they were a long way up.

A bird of prey viewed from our balcony at the Parador de Ronda