I am leaving Madrid and heading to Ronda this morning. Today is an early morning start since my train leaves at 7:30 am from Atocha. I take the subway to the train station. The ride from Madrid to Ronda is anywhere from 3 1/2 hours to 4 1/2 hours. I choose the 3.5 hour trip but it includes a stop and a train change. On this train ride is where I start to notice that train cars will occasionally not have the coach number on the outside making it especially challenging when trying to find your correct car (Spain has assigned seating for all its long distance trains). I eventually find what I believe is the correct car by process of elimination. Travel by train in Spain is mostly pleasant: trains are clean, they are roomy even in economy class, temperature is comfortable, and noise level is low. I do occasionally treat myself to an upgrade while I travel if the price is right. For some reason (perhaps it was lack of sleep) I thought that this particular route was one I upgraded myself for. When trying to find my coach this train of thought combined with the lack of numbers outside led me to sitting in the incorrect car in someone else’s seat (the seat number matched though). There is an awkward situation of me getting kicked out of the business class. So here I am with my bulky backpacks, trying to quickly pack up; I already spread all my junk out for my trip….breakfast sandwich, ipad, coffee, etc. I am pretty sure I was a disturbance to all the business travelers that morning. Once packed up I pass through a couple of coaches and find what I believe is my seat, and confirm it with the train employee this time. My correct seat isn’t terrible. I can relax again.
We arrive late for our train stop in Antequera. I have some anxiety for this since there is only ten minutes allocated for my connection. Luckily the train to Ronda is held because a majority on my train are heading there as well.
We arrive to Ronda little after 11:00 AM. The hotel is about a 15 minute walk from the train station. I still have many hours before check in but I am heading to the hotel to drop off my bags. I walk down a busy shopping pedestrian street. There are many shops and cafes. A person eating at one of the cafes notices my college t-shirt and stops me to chat a bit since he is also an alumni. It is fun to see my commuter school grow to the popularity it has now over the years. When I first started traveling internationally I would have never met someone from my college.
I drop my bags off at my hotel and wander around a quiet part of Ronda.
There are some day-trippers and tour groups but overall the town is not ruined by over tourism. The pandemic seemed to hit this town like everywhere else (closed businesses, etc) but for the most part it seems to do well. They don’t have many “must-sees” so it doesn’t get crowded and has maintained it charm somewhat. I love staying in slower paced towns like this. It is like a vacation from my vacation.
I spend some time at one overlook area where a guy is playing contemporary songs on the Spanish guitar.
I find a park and admire the flowering trees.
Bring on all the flowers…..
I feel the need for a snack or even lunch. I search restaurant menus for the special gazpacho of the region (ojo blanco -Spanish White Garlic Soup) but I can’t find it. I settle for a café that has the local cheese payoyo that I want to try (goat cheese). I order cheese and a normal gazpacho. The cheese plate is very large for one person; getting too much cheese is a common theme for my travels. It is in Ronda where the idea occurs to use the Ziplock bags to carry my cheese, and sometimes croquettes, to go. Yes, I’m the person squirreling away food in my purse… thank goodness I carry Ziplock bags with me when I travel.
After I eat I finally check into my hotel and clean up. The hotel, Hotel Don Miguel, is not fancy but it is clean and has a million dollar view.
Later on I go for a walk around town and find a park with curvy paths and a view of the cliffsides and bridge. I see olive trees that make me want to reach out and grab the olives with my fingers.
I take a smaller stone bridge across the crevice.
I start walking back toward the main street that crosses the crevice. I hear peacock noises. I know them well because we have random peacocks in the neighborhoods I used to do my training runs in Florida. There is one sitting on the fence of the place I plan to visit tomorrow.
Tonight the goal is to try some local wines. I find the perfect tapas bar close to the hotel to do this. I have a view of the iconic bridge and a nice breeze from a cool late afternoon. I try the white asparagus, another regional item, and some other tapas such as ham and salmon. I also get to try a couple local wines.
It’s still early and I want to enjoy my view from my hotel so I buy a bottle of wine and some chocolates for dessert to enjoy on my balcony. Have I mentioned how I love the temperatures here? It is hot during the day due to the humidity and sun but the temperatures are not unbearable. The evenings are gloriously cool. It is almost like it is still spring in this town. I love it!
While I sit on my patio Spanish guitar player plays Stairway to Heaven across the way.
I enjoy the view from my hotel room until after dark. Loving the Andalucía life.