Monday 16th May – Ronda
It was another stunning morning in Cadiz for our departure day, brilliant sunshine, warm and a clear blue sky.
We had an early walk before getting on the road at 10am. Ronda was only a 2 hour drive from Cadiz and so we decided to take the longer coast route so as to visit another couple of towns on the way.
Our first stop was at another Pueblo Blanco cliff-top town of Vejer de la Fontera. This was about 45 km south-east of Cadiz but it was just a quick photo stop though as the small historic Centre was crawling with tourists and lots of walking tour groups.
Our next stop was a further 45 km along the way at Tarifa. This town is apparently a great destination for picking up whale watching tours and is also know for wind related water sports. So it wasn’t surprising that we passed several massive wind turbine farms.
Tarifa is a port city and not that far from the northern tip of Africa so it wasn’t surprising to find a Medina in town and yet another Mosque turned Cathedral. In fact, as we were leaving we could see a large land mass just off the coast and soon worked out that it was Africa! Tarifa was filled with lots of tourists but also with many Gen Y types walking around in swimwear suggesting a nearby beach but we had parked and dined nearer to the port side of the town. The Medina was typically filled with a maze of narrow lanes and a few too many tourist shops.
The drive from Tarifa to Ronda was about two hours and took us past the huge and busy port town of Algeciras where we could see the large rock of Gibraltar off in the distance. The route continued eastward towards Malaga at which point we turned northward to Ronda. This last hour of the trip was a beautiful climb up through the mountains of Serrania de Ronda, a range covered with dense pine forest, and there were spectacular views back to the coast from the many twists and turns along the roadway. We were clearly reaching some altitude though as the tree line could be seen to finish not that far above us and a craggy limestone terrain then dominated.
We eventually made it to our hotel by about 4pm and settled in quickly before heading out for a walk. Our hotel was located a few minutes away from the spectacular Puente Nuevo bridge that straddles a deep gorge and Mark even managed to find two new shirts during this outing.
Casa Maria had come highly recommended as a dinner option and so we dressed for dinner and headed the 10 min walk down the hill. The only concern I had was that it would then be uphill after dinner. Casa Maria was a great choice as the husband and wife team simply serve you a meal of their choice. Maria worked in the kitchen and Mr Maria even managed to feed fish to the local cats in between serving us and the other couple present. We had a lovely evening though dining and chatting with a friendly English couple seated nearby.