Thursday, December 29, 2016

The long (and winding) road to Ronda

Yes it was a long day, a very long day.  I left "home" at about 6:20 to get the bus into central Malaga where I was to be picked up and did not get back here until 7:30 that evening.

There were 7 of us waiting at the stop - a family of four, a couple and myself.  I arrived after the couple who were very strange.  In fact I was closest to the bus when it pulled up but they ran to get in front of me to get a "better" seat on the empty bus.  More on them later... TWO HOURS LATER we were on our way to Ronda...the rest of the time was spent driving along the Costa Del Sol picking up other passengers.  Luckily after three hours on the bus and just before we arrived in Ronda we had a 20 minute break.!!!  (and a pee break!)  I then came out of my coma and started talking to the lady next to me who was really quite interesting.

Soon we were at the Ronda bus station and our group was split in two which was much better.  Off we went on a walking tour.

The old town and new town of Ronda are split by the magnificent gorge known as El Tajo.  The gorge is 150 metres (490 feet) deep.

This is the "new" bridge built in 1788.

If you look carefully in between the gorge in the distance you can see one of the "old'' bridges - there are a total of three that go over the gorge.

Established in the 9th century, Ronda is one of the oldest cities in Spain.  Ronda means "surrounded by mountains". The old city was established in Islamic times when it was filled with mosques and palaces.  It has a colourful history as it was filled with bandits and profiteers.  It even has a "bandit" museum - I would have loved to have visited that if I had felt better.

I thought this building's windows were quite striking - no clue what it is.

The Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor was originally a mosque but was converted to a Christian church.

The strange couple on the bus were on my walking tour and they kept getting in my way as of course they had to have photos of themselves in front of everything (and no they weren't Japanese).


Did someone say wine tasting? 

Next stop was to a shop for wine tasting.  Of course they wanted us to buy wine but I think only one person did.  I did test three different wines.  

From there we went to the bull ring.  I know...I don't believe in it either.  But I decided to keep an open mind so in I went.  At that point the walking tour was over...such as it was.

This is the oldest bull ring in the country and considered the most dangerous as there is no kind of step for the matadors to fling themselves out of the ring to escape the bull.  (aww..gee too bad)  It is also the biggest bull ring although only holds 5,000 spectators.  Apparently it is a mecca for bull fighting fanatics.

Bull pens

There was a museum as well but I gave it a very quick glance and left.  I scurried through the gift shop without stopping on the way to the exit.

There are only three bull fights a year in this ring which is enough as our guide said and I agree.

We then had two hours to look around on our own but I was too tired to do that so sat on a bench for a while people watching and then found a cafe and nibbled on a ham and cheese sandwich.  I got back to the bus station early so sat outside and had a cafe con leche and the lady I was sitting with joined me.  What a fascinating life she has had with having been a photographer for years including in the Bosnian war which forced her to retire from photography.  Now she teaches yoga to athletes to aid their performance.  She has lived all over the place.  Then she asked what I did.  Um. Let's see...worked for the telephone company and then the health district...(snore)

The tour guide (who had all the personality of a rock) told us to sit in the same seats when we went back.  Well...four couples didn't and sat in the seats where the strange couple sat (two ahead of me) and he went beserk.   My seat mate told him to "chill out mate" and he lost it again. She said to me I'd hate to see him react if anything major went wrong.  Anyway he made sure everyone got back to their right seats.  

The bus wound its way back up the mountain and then down again to the Costa del Sol and soon we were in Marbella where my seat mate was staying.  We were then told we were going on a walking tour of the old town which I was not thrilled to hear as I was so tired.  By this time I could barely walk so I limped along behind but at least now I don't have to make a trip there.

I liked the look of these benches even if they would be cold and hard to sit on!!!

Back on the bus and finally into Malaga over an hour later.  I got a local bus immediately and once back here I went to bed.  Exhausted!  Was it worth it?  Yes.  Would I do it again?  No!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Finding Nerja (to be quite a lovely place)

Get the title?  I am trying to be creative guys.  So here I sit in my room on a lovely morning.  The sun is beating down on me through the open window as I type this.  Yes life is tough.  I am having yet another "rest day".  This cold sucks, it really does but hey Queen E. and I have something in common right now.  It is a bad one I can tell you - one of the worst I've had.  I'm calling it "the cold that just won't leave".  Or more likely the flu. We will have our four week anniversary on Friday. Last night I got strict instructions from my airbnb host Pilar "Laurie, rest tomorrow".  So that I am.  Later I will meander down to have a late lunch along the beach somewhere and pick up a few supplies at the local supermarket. Yesterday's trip to Ronda was very long and exhausting - but that's a story for another post.

I had never heard of Nerja to be honest but Pilar told me I must go as it was beautiful.  It is 40 km east of Malaga whereas the most well known places on the Costa del Sol tend to be to the west.  I decided that this would be a good thing to do on Boxing Day (December 26th).  I got up later than I had planned as in hitting the "snooze" button on my phone a few too many times.  I made the bus with five minutes to spare.  The trip there took about an hour and a half and when I got off the bus everyone headed off in different directions and I was thinking "what the f*ck" (I have been using that phrase a lot lately).  The main drag is a normal city street with no charm whatsover.  Thank goodness a British woman set me off in the right direction.  As soon as I headed down the first street I felt an instant connection with this place.  And once I saw the view from the Balcony of Europe  - wow!

The balcony on the left?  That's where I had my lunch!

I then started wandering down the side streets which is me and my cameras favourite thing to do.

I always thought this was a German/Austrian thing but guess it's all through Europe..Santa the pervert trying to climb in windows!

Orange trees are everywhere here.

I love fountains!

Okay...guess I will follow you down to the beach then...

I sat on a bench for quite a while just enjoying the view and the sun...

I loved this little house on the beach!

After all that sitting it was time to make my way back up to the town and go walking in a different direction - and to work up an appetite for (a late) lunch!

Beautiful view point along the way...

A bit over the top but fun to look at.

Sorry, couldn't resist!!!

I never get tired of the beautiful tiles here in Spain.

Well you knew there had to be a dog eventually right?  This one was supervising the neighbourhood from its balcony.

Prawn, leek and zucchini lasagna.  I do love my prawns and I needed some vegetables right?  It was delicious but needless to say I could not finish it.

When I was first seated I was outside on the balcony but by the building. As soon as a table at the edge of the balcony came free I immediately told the server I was moving!! Can you blame me? What a view!!!

Back to the Balcony of Europe - this features in a lot of films.  So beautiful!!!

He seems to be admiring the view as well!!!

The beautiful Church of El Salvador in the main square.

Then it was time to say goodbye to Nerja,  I could have stayed longer but I was getting really tired.  I decided to walk back via back streets and a park.  Not a good plan as I got seriously "misplaced". Finally I found my way back to the main street and once again the bus pulled in almost as soon as I got there.  

A great day!  If I ever come back to Andalucia I think I will have to spend a few days here...Nerja wormed its way into my heart. 

A picnic in Peter Rabbit country

When I was visiting England two and a half years ago I stayed with friends Janette and Martyn who I got to know through my German friend Cl...