Picking up where I left off a week ago, we were just about to leave Seville and head to our next destination further south, the little town of Ronda, Spain. While I was sorry to see Seville go, I was also pretty eager to see this place I’d been hearing other bloggers rave about for the past year. Times like these are when I really appreciate knowing so many travelers who like to write about their explorations – without them, I’d never have known to add this special city onto our itinerary. As much as I loved Seville and its classic Spanish flair, and the towns along the Costa del Sol, Ronda ultimately ended up being my favorite place on our short tour of southern Spain.
Worried that we might not get a spot on the bus at the time slot we needed, we had bought our tickets to Ronda the day before at the Los Amarillos kiosk at Seville’s Prado San Sebastián station. This was my first time purchasing our bus/train tickets in Spanish – I’d have to do it three more times before we returned home – and against all odds, we ended up with tickets for the correct time on the correct bus. I thought for sure I’d screw up somewhere and we’d end up in Jerez or Córdoba instead.
At 4pm, we hopped onto our bus to Ronda and began the 1 hour 45 minute journey south. I was super happy with our seats because there were no obnoxiously loud people or small children sitting near us – that’s always my fear on long bus or train rides – and so I got my book out, thinking just maybe I’d be able to finish it before we reached our destination, but I was almost immediately distracted. The scenery we passed on the roads between Seville and Ronda was just incredible. It started out as small rolling hills in the countryside, a few white cities dotting the landscape here and there, but as we neared Ronda, those rolling hills grew into small mountains with large bodies of crystal blue waters shimmering at their base. Needless to say, I didn’t even make it through one chapter of my book. Best bus ride ever.
The bus let us off in Ronda’s New Town. Before leaving the station, we bought our bus tickets to Málaga for the following day, and then set off to find our hotel which was also in the New Town area. It was after 6pm by the time we were settled into our hotel and even though the only thing I really wanted to do was get out and see things, we absolutely had to find food first. If you remember from the last Seville post, we had skipped breakfast and lunch, so skipping dinner just wasn’t an option. Instead of running straight to the gorge, we made our way to the main square in Ronda’s New Town, the Plaza del Socorro.
Ronda is a very small city and the Plaza del Socorro certainly reflects that. A few restaurants, a church, and a fountain with a friendly lion – doesn’t he look like he’s waving? – that’s pretty much all you’ll find here. On the side streets surrounding the square you can find more cafes and shops, but it’s not like Seville was with a seemingly endless supply of eating and shopping establishments. We quickly found a spot to scarf down some cheap tapas and go – how very un-Spanish of us. In all of our travels, we have never spent such a small amount of time eating as we did this day in Spain. Totally weird.
Anyway, one really good thing about traveling through Spain in August is the extended daylight hours. It was around 7pm when we had finished our food and paid up, and luckily that still left us with around two and half hours until sunset to do some exploring!
Not hard to understand why I believe Ronda to be the prettiest small town in Andalusia, is it? Talk about a beautiful place. I fell in love instantly, and I’m not the only one – Ronda has certainly had its fair share of famous residents over the years. Both Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles, among many others, found Ronda inspiring enough to take up summer homes here in the Old Town.
Ronda was also a popular destination for the Viajeros Románticos, which means Romantic Travelers in English, but the Viajeros Románticos were not traveling lovers as the translation suggests. They were travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries who wanted to discover the unspoiled areas of Europe and would take lengthy grand tours that would influence their many pieces of literature and art. (That so would have been me, minus the production of worthwhile art and literature.)
Speaking of unspoiled, Ronda is still one of those rare destinations in Europe that hasn’t yet been built up by big businesses or overtaken by the tourism industry. That’s not to say this isn’t a highly popular tourist destination, because it certainly is, but at least there aren’t any modern buildings or high rise hotels marring the natural landscape.
Ronda is probably most famous for El Tajo gorge, a large canyon cutting off the Old Town of Ronda from the New Town. Three bridges connect the two across the gorge, the most popular of which is the Puente Nuevo bridge. From here, there is a lovely view of the surrounding countryside and the pueblos blancos that are literally built right up to the edge of the cliff. Another magnificent viewpoint of this area is from Alameda del Tajo park – talk about a vista that will make you feel small and insignificant.
We were only here for less than twenty-four hours, but I’ve always been quick to fall in love, and with Ronda it was no different – it was love at first sight, for sure. I have so much more to share about our short time here – two great hikes, the oldest bullring in Spain, and one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen, so I hope you’ll come back later this week to see those. Ronda has so much natural beauty – I could never have fit it all into one post!
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