One of the last few days of our Spanish adventure was highlighted by an amazing horseback ride (booked through the Airbnb app) that took us to a beach with a front row view of the Rock of Gibraltar. I had only heard about and read about the Rock of Gibraltar in Grade 4 Geography class and occasionally in places like National Geographic. It was very remarkable to see if for myself after all these years – definitely a highlight in my life that I won’t soon forget. Our horseback riding guides were some of the nicest, simplest people my daughter and I had ever meant. Simply wonderful people. Real salt of the earth types. At the end of our ride, we had to almost beg them to take our 20-euro tip – Spaniards don’t really comprehend the concept of tipping, especially not these people. I’m just glad I remembered to bring my camera for that once in a lifetime adventure. Horseback riding on a beach at sunset, with Gibraltar in the background is a phenomenal experience – thank you Airbnb excursions!
On Thursday morning, I took advantage of our building’s pool and lounge area. That afternoon, we returned to Marbella for a little bit of shopping at La Cañada Shopping and a little sightseeing through this very pretty town. We were both impressed at the opulence on display. Back to La Duquesa in the evening for another great meal by the marina and a quiet evening in.
Friday was our great adventure to Ronda, a town I had read about in my little travel guide, Top 10 Andalucía and the Costa Del Sol, DK Eyewitness Books Limited. After my morning ritual of a breakfast on the balcony, we headed off to Ronda.
The guide said Ronda was only about an hour’s drive from Marbella, meaning about 75 – 90 minutes from where we were staying. It said it was a medieval town in the mountains. Wow! When reality meets with what you read in a book, sometimes you’re just not prepared. I had to drive up the side of a mountain, on a highway that would give a mountain goat vertigo. I have never driven on anything like this in my life. I must have shifted up and down a hundred times over 40 kilometers. After about 45 minutes of white knuckle driving, we eased into the very crowded, quaint, and tiny town of Ronda.
We were of course, in search of another McDonald’s while I tried to navigate impossibly narrow streets. I managed to turn around and find my daughter standing outside of McDonald’s after about 20 minutes of trying not to tear off the sideview mirrors of my rental car and trying to avoid very brave, and almost suicidal pedestrians. We then ended up in the narrowest parking garage in the world. My poor clutch got a great workout in that place.
Ronda is amazing! Just outside of our parking garage, we entered the most beautiful park. So lush and well-kept. Just beautiful vegetation and landscaping. That park features a lookout over the breathtaking mountains of the Sierra Bermeja mountain range. We strolled through the cobblestone streets, through an open café, past souvenir shops, and eventually to another lookout to marvel at the dizzying ravine, right in the center of town and the eighteenth-century bridge, the Puente Nuevo “that connects the old town to the new town.” To me, they both looked pretty old so I’m not sure what the travel guide was telling me. To think, they did all that hundreds of years ago, without any cranes or other mechanized equipment that exists today, is simply mind-blowing (the cover picture is of that bridge).
After being totally enthralled by the ravine and the bridge, we sauntered through the older part of the city, through narrow cobblestone streets and past beautiful white buildings with red roofs. This is what is considered as a Pueblo Blanco (white village). No wonder. Taking in the scenery of this beautiful and historic town made us thirsty and hungry so we stopped for a drink and tapas.
Then, back on the crazy highway through the hills. The locals have almost no patience for tourists in rental cars; but, hey, I made it through. No scratches on the car and both mirrors intact. And I kept it between the white lines, whatever white lines there were.
Back in La Duquesa, we had Indian food for our final dinner out, which I absolutely love. I gained a taste for it while living in Toronto for over 7 years back in the nineties, partially due to the fact that two of my bosses during that time were of Indian origin.
The last day was a long 7 hour drive back to Madrid. After making it through multiple lanes of chaotic traffic, we checked into our hotel and lo and behold, Madrid just happened to win the European Cup of football that night, so we barely got any sleep. Before leaving for Madrid, we stopped for breakfast in Marbella, where I had a chance to look up and marvel at the mountain we drove over to get to and from Ronda the day before.
Our flight home was mostly uneventful. We loved our trip, but we were both happy to be home after so much excitement.
The following are links to other articles in this series on my adventures in Spain.