Ronda: Day 27, 28
Before catching our train to Ronda, we decided to squeeze the most out of our Córdoban morning by visiting the Mezquita-Catedral for free (three cheers for early morning discounts!). After our fair share of arches and beautiful geometry, all of which was, once again, a brilliant reminder of the co-existence of religions that characterises Córdoba to this day, we creepily waited outside our now-favourite juice shop until it opened so we could get the breakfast set — despite the fact that the shadow of our disastrous train incident hung over us like a ghost.
Suffice to say, breakfast was worth the sweaty rush back to our hostel and to the train station, where we arrived — miraculously — on time. Thus began our trip to the mountainous land of Ronda, which was greatly expedited by the in-transit TV show featuring a Spanish marathon runner racing in Kenya (and meeting Obama’s grandmother in the interim).
Upon arrival in Ronda, we were slightly taken aback by how crowded it was. Notwithstanding the fact that it was a Thursday, and the additional fact that Ronda is a very, very small city, there was a multitude of people walking about on the main commercial street. We grabbed a quick lunch and began our expedition on foot through the immaculately white neighbourhoods, visiting the Puente Viejo and the Arab Baths along the way.
Ronda, like Córdoba, shares a diverse history: according to the signboards explaining the main attractions, the Puente Viejo (the Old Bridge) was built as a means of connecting the Muslim part of town with a sprawling growth of merchant businesses on the other side of the mountain. Thus, walking around in Ronda — or should I say, ronda-ing around — offered an interesting glimpse into the seamless co-existence of different cultures.
Speaking of various cultures, at one point we stumbled upon a Korean group tour admiring the plaques adorning the floor of a nearby viewpoint. For a while I eavesdropped on the guide, who so knowingly pointed down at the plaque of Pedro Romero — a famous Spanish bullfighter —and enlightened the crowd with a simple: “this is a plaque of Pedro Romero, and here you can see his face. Now let’s move on.”
Yup, ’twas an educational experience.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful — we hung out at a park, chatted for two hours, went back to our hostel and soon headed out to dinner.
After our disastrous meals in Córdoba, we decided to seek TripAdvisor’s assistance and chose to go to the number one rated restaurant in Ronda. After a twenty minute walk we came across the restaurant, a cute corner establishment. We ordered our meals, which sounded great on the menu, but upon receiving them — or rather, when I received my dish — my budget traveller’s soul was crushed yet again. Inadvertently, I ended up paying a relative fortune of 14€ for a plate of fish, a price so unfamiliar that when the waiter accidentally printed the price of Nicole’s water as 12.5€ we believed it for longer than we should have.
The next day was spent in a way pretty similar to the one before: we walked around town, talked, sat at the same park, talked, climbed some towers, talked, sat in cafés, talked, went back to the room, talked. The highlight was definitely hiking down the rocks to see the Puente Nuevo (the New Bridge, which was very recently built in the 1780s) from below. The second highlight was watching a group of kittens play fight at the entrance of a random hotel.
Clearly, there was a lot to do.
Food-wise, we did much better, and celebrated the fact that we stuck to the reliable by getting McFlurries at the local McDonalds. After another brief walk around the park, we holed up in our hostel for the night, where we watched a movie, talked a little more, and headed off to bed.
Now for Madrid: the last leg of our month in Europe. And boy will it be busy!