Thursday, June 03, 2010

Monday (Granada to Ronda)...

We did a bit of morning shopping before departing Granada. Ornate boxes crafted by local woodworkers. An architectural volume from the Alhambra bookstore. And (finally) a small pomegranite momento to remind us of the symbol of Granada...we had made a game out of spotting the fruit on doors, in decorative tiles, and city infrastructure..

A swift return to the train station to Avis. Picked up our little red Seat Leon. Remembering manual transmission is like riding a bike. Navigated through the sleepy towns outside Granada and on through rolling fields. Snack and soda at a gas station where the two attendants (women) looked genuinely surprised to see us.

Emily (our GPS) did an admirable job directing us into Ronda...the white hilltown where we would spend the next two nights. With blind faith, we followed Emily's course up into the historic center...across an old bridge, up narrow cobblestone streets with steep grades and tight turns. Ronda is perched on a hilltop with a river cutting a narrow gorge through the middle. A picturesque bridge (the New Bridge) atop three stone arches spans the gorge. Our hotel sat along the cliff edge with a wonderful view of the bridge...not to mention the sweeping landscape below. Our room was aptly named Granada.

Walked the winding white-walled streets of Ronda's Moorish Quarter. The picturesque Colegiata Santa Maria la Mayor beckoned us in with its Moorish belltower. Learned that William Randolph Hearst fell in love with this belltower and replicated them at Hearst Castle at San Simeon (California) we know why it looks familiar. The church's most notable resident, the statue of Santa Maria was missing...she gets paraded through town early in May to her summer home in a cave on the edge of town...she knows how to stay cool in the summer!

Walked along the cliff top in the hot afternoon sun. Crossed the New Bridge and walked along the pedestrian way snaking above the cliff edge to take some late afternoon pictures. Watched the sun dip below the mountains directly to the west of us from the balcony in our room.

Dinner at El Sampillo as the dark blue sky turned pitch black. Wonderful food and our first sangria. Potatoes with peppers. A creamy Spanish omlette. Meatballs in a lovely sauce. Ice cream for dessert. And a friendly, persistent cat...who entertained us as she hid from passing dogs. Couldn't resist giving her a few nibbles of our food. Wandered the (very) quiet streets after dark. White walls and yellow trim glowed under street lamps. This is a cozy town that closes down early...if midnight is early.

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