"Ugggggghhhh, yeah, yeah, I'm up, I'm up...." Much to the disappointment of the middle child, it's day 2 of March break and I wake her up at 6 am. I know it's vacation, but I've fully warned her of the amount of cities we're gonna hit this week and sleeping until noon is totally not an option.
Where to go first?!? Looking at a map of Andalucia, I settle on driving the hour and a bit to get to Ronda in the morning, then heading back towards the coast to Marbella in the afternoon. The child is finally ready (though in a typical teenage mood and still not forgiving me for waking her up so early) and off we go!
DRIVING TO RONDA
First time driving in Spain, and all was easy-peasy until I had to start the drive upward.These always stress me out a bit at first - though I've driven through worse (in Switzerland), it's not easy to get used to. It's no real problem - just a bit curvy.... ok, actually a lot curvy in places, with switchbacks and some high drops that can be distracting - but very scenic. It is breathtaking in places but definitely more enjoyable for the passenger as the driver will be too focused on the road to see it all!! Make use of the gears and drive the speed your comfortable at and ignore the drivers on your tail.
After circling around the most narrow streets I've ever seen, we finally find parking and head off to explore this charming pueblo blanco. The town straddles the El Tajo Gorge, with the iconic Puente Nuevo linking the new and the old town.
If you want to see Ronda in its full glory - a busy, vibrant town - you're better off getting there as early as possible!
Funky decos where we parked the car
PLAZA DEL SOCORRO
Wandering around, we come to Plaza del Socorro - one of the main squares in Ronda's new town (El Mercadillo). A beautiful fountain stands in the middle, the Nuestra Senora del Socorro on the south side, the Casino and Circulo de Artistas (Artists Society) on the north side and many, many touristy shops, restaurants and cafés all around it. Cute to see and to snap some shots, but the restos and shops around here are rumored to be major tourist traps.
PUENTE NUEVO & EL TAJO GORGE
The most emblematic site of Ronda, this impressive bridge spans over the El Tajo Gorge linking the El Mercadillo (new town) and La Cuidad (old town). Though far from being new - it was built in the 1700s - but it was new back then and the name just stuck. Honestly, words and photos cannot describe this particular spot - the sight of buildings perilously clinging to the cliffside, and a distinct dizzying effect when you look straight down (if you dare!) into the 300-foot deep ravine - makes for some pretty friggin' dramatic and impressive views and a little bit of queasiness if you're not a fan of heights. Looking at it, me and the child were in awe, "How did they build this thing????" we kept asking ourselves - it's only when you see it up close that you realize just how high the bridge really is.
The old town is much quieter than the busy, commercial new town. While it doesn't have tons of shops and restaurants, it's still got plenty to offer and oodles of charm - beautiful gardens, narrow cobblestone streets, large old mansions, gorgeous Moorish architecture and plenty of cafes to sit in and simply watch the world go by.
ALAMEDA DEL TAJO
It's a tiny park, in the middle of Ronda with gorgeous greenery, cute fountains and a few bends to sit down and chill. But the main reason for heading to this park is the view. Incredible! Absolutely breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside with rolling green hills. To really get the full effect, step out on to one of the miradores - it feels like you're standing at the edge of the world - which you kind of are, since these miradores are suspended with nothing underneath them - not good if you're afraid of heights!
PLAZA DE TOROS
No matter what your opinion is on bullfighting, you can't go to Ronda and without a visit to its Plaza de Toros. Though it's a bit of a steep entrance fee for what it is - 7 €, or 8,5 € with the audioguide - if you've never seen a bullring in your life, then it's worth it to take a look. It's the oldest bullring in Andalucia, with an interesting museum that has great exhibits of traditional costumes and memorabilia. It may be a bit pricey for the experience but worth it for the impressive feeling you get when standing in the middle of the arena.
There is no wrong way to visit Ronda because the city is gorgeous and the views breathtaking everywhere - I totally needed this little bit of Ronda in my life!
Photos taken | written by JENNIFER MAHON
LIKE THIS? YOU MIGHT WANNA CHECK THESE OUT: