After a short journey by train from Granada, we arrived in Ronda, one of the most historic and romanticised towns in Spain. Constructed atop a dramatic escarpment, there are views aplenty looking down from the clifftop, especially with the Sierra Nevada mountains visible in the distance. As luck would have it, our AirBnb, a lovely three bedroom home in the old town, had no other guests during our stay, so we had the house (and terrace) to ourselves!
Undeniably, the main attraction of Ronda is the spectacular Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) which spans the ~100 metre Tajo gorge, connecting the old and new towns. The bridge construction took 42 years to complete! We managed to view the bridge from above (with the rest of the tourists) and below- via an early morning hike from the old town toward the base of the gorge. We also revisisted the base for a sunset view, but our overindulgence on tapas meant we missed the sunset on the bridge itself. You live and learn!
The remainder of our time in Ronda was spent walking along the escarpment, seeking shade in the many gardens, and enjoying the extremely well-priced tapas and beverages. Our decision to stay for two nights, more than the average ‘daytrip’, allowed us to avoid the crowds and appreciate the true beauty of Ronda!
Our final destination in Andalucia was Sevilla, the most renowned city in the region, well-known across the globe for its tapas, matadors and flamenco traditions.
We arrived well-rested from our two days in Ronda, and begun our visit with a free walking tour, run by Feel The City (link here). Thankfully this was a morning tour, as the temperature in Sevilla exceeded 42oC each day during our stay, even reaching 46oC at one point! The tour was informative and we learned about Sevilla’s status as the most important city in Europe during the 16th century. After viewing the iconic ‘La Giralda’, Tower of Gold, Real Maestranza (bull ring) and the beautiful university campus, the tour concluded in the Plaza d’Espana, a massive plaza built for the 1922 World Exposition. The ornate construction is breathtaking! The Plaza showcases a number of Sevillan architectural styles and techniques, which as you can guess means there are a lot of porcelain tiles!
Sevilla is also home to the Real Alcázar, a Moorish fort from the 10th century which was redeveloped after the Christian reconquest of Andalucia in the 14th century. While no ‘Alhambra’ (Granada) the Alcazar is a standout representation of the Mudejar architectural style with its many intricate arches and islamic influenced design.
Keeping with the Arabic theme, we decided to escape the heat and visit Aire de Sevilla (link here) – a hammam Arabic bath complex located in the winding streets of the Sevilla old city. Our first real indulgence since the start of our journey, we enjoyed a series of thermal baths in addition to an amazing salt bath and massage, all located in a historic and authentic building! Needless to say we preferred the 40oC bath to the +40oC temperatures outside! Relaxing away the afternoon we didn’t take any pictures – you will have to see it for yourselves. Tourist tip- book your tickets online and go on a Wednesday. Opt for the 15 min massage and 90 min bath time, and you will get an extra 15 min massage absolute free! Bliss!
Tapas were central to our daily routine in Sevilla, perfect for either lunch or dinner and always well priced! Despite thoroughly researching which bars were rated best, our favourite meal came courtesy of a wrong turn in the narrow streets! We were also keen to see a flamenco performance while in Sevilla, but were wary of the numerous unaunthentic and popularised performances available. With a majority of positive reviews, we decided to check out La Casa del Flamenco (link here), known for simple yet elegant performances (e.g. no microphones and a small number tickets). This show was also set in the courtyard of a 15th century palace! The show did not disappoint and we were mesmerised by a truly unique performance. Well worth a look if you are in Sevilla.
Finally, to please the soccer obsessed boy, and to enjoy some airconditioning, we took a tour of the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium; the home ground for the Sevilla Futbol Club. Tourist tip 2: there is also an air conditioned shopping mall just next door for the less enthusiastic tourist. As in any relationship, compromise is key. So we did both – soccer and shopping! A win for all involved.
Andalucia may have come to an end, but we saved the best for last, Galicia!!
Until next time,
DT & AP