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Ah, Spain! Ah, Ronda!

Written by Jeff Drake
7 · 05 · 18

Wow, I finally have a little time to start to organize our photos, videos and write something to my blog. We have been very busy!

Lisa and I really enjoyed Portugal and were happy to finally get to visit the country and mark it off our bucket list. But, we both agree, we really “love” Spain! There’s just something about this place. This is our second visit in 27 years, but we hope to get back sooner the next time!

So many cool places to visit, the people are friendly, the food is great and there is some excellent tempranillo wine going on here! Sadly, the so-called house wines are kind of hit and miss and of course, when you are on a tour getting a prix fixe meal, that’s what you get. So, I choose off a wine menu every chance I get instead. In Portugal we got local blended wines and here in Spain, the emphasis is on local “organic” wines (emphasis on “organic”, somehow they think Americans are into that. LOL! Oh, and don’t ask for a rioja wine, you will get a lecture that the local craft wines are the thing and that rioja isn’t Spanish. No need to cause trouble by pointing out the bottles of wine on the bar that are labeled with various Italian and French grape varieties.

By the way, Seville was just as beautiful as we remembered it! In fact, we actually found a restaurant we remember eating at in 1991, as well as a the gift store where we bought several large platters (can’t imagine hauling those around now). The store had the same plates we bought back then, although the color and quality seemed less than our purchase 27 years ago. Narrow streets, many shops, restaurants and tapas bars agalore, what’s not to love?

We are in Ronda today. This town, like others in this part of Spain, was founded originally as a Roman fortress/town. The latin name for the place referred to the town being surrounded (thus “rounda”) by mountains and easy to defend. I guess the Moors agreed to an extent, because when they took the town from the Romans, they also called it “rounda”, and when the Spanish finally took control, they called it Ronda.

The town is really beautiful! Our parador sits on the edge of the gorge that makes Ronda such a tourist attraction. There is a lovely old town area and although there are tourists here, I can’t say the place feels really crowded. Our parador is not that old, but it has ancient bones. It originally was the old town hall, but the government recognized it’s profit potential and moved all their beureaucrats out into an office building and converted the place into a parador. Lucky us! The substructure of the building contains the bones of old roman and moorish structures that were destoyed for the most part over the years and the many conflicts.

There are two convents here and a small monastery. The local church has done very well for itself over the years through donations from wealthy citizens. Today we visited a gorgeous building overlooking the gorge with an amazing garden! This used to be the home of a wealthy female patron, but she donated it to the church when she died. The local priests decided that her house was now their house, so they moved in. Today there are several elderly priests living in the upstairs of the building and the lower part has been opened to tourists. Wow, would I love to have their garden!

Tomorrow is probably going to be a bit controversial (not unusual for an OAT tour). We’re going to a bull farm to see how bulls are raised for the bull ring. There is a huge bull ring in the center of town here and everyone is into bull fighting. Since no one wants to support curelty to animals, some may be reluctant to even go, although we are not going to see any bull fighting. Our guide, Sira, who is Spanish, has told us all to have an open mind tomorrow, but some I think are quite closed to anything having to do with bull fighting.

I’m hoping to upload some photos of our parador and other fun stuff, but they may have to wait till tomorrow. I’m fading fast.

We did go to a lunch qua flamenco show today, but although the food was good, the show was to me, a “tourist” show and not that good, at least not what I wanted to see. However, we went to a Spanish guitar shop tonight where the owner (who appears to be quite well known in Spanish guitar circles) played a private concert just for OAT. Wow! He was so damn good! This was what I was expecting! We bought two of his CDs. I’ve been trying to upload an audio file from the show, but the internet is not complying with me right now, so it will have to wait.

Whew. It’s late and I need to shower and crash. Will try to upload some photos tomorrow!

Buenos noches!

Oh, success! This is a photo of our parador in Ronda, taken from one of the bridges that crosses the deep gorge!


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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.
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