Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Día 7- Ronda to Granada

The view from our little, oven-like apartment.  
The AC worked well in just the living room, if all of the doors were closed, so we pulled the mattress into the living room and camped in there for the night. 

Right around the corner was a small cafe, where we had café y pan tostado americano for breakfast (the name is made up).  We had our toast with butter and jam, not the Spanish way- with a bucket of olive oil and scoop of salt.  I have never seen such a thing in my life.  And this has been witnessed everywhere we have been in Spain so far.  Some people put a tomato puree on top of the supersaturated bread.

Besides the bridge, Ronda is also famous for being the birthplace of modern bullfighting. 
In the 1700s, Fransisco Romero combined the two existing styles of bullfighting into one.  He created rules and brought a scarlet cape into the mix.  Voila.  Bullfighting as we know it.  Bullfights are still held here in September, but we were more than entertained with just bullring and museum.

This is where they train the horses...chandeliers are an unexpected but classy touch.



There is room for over 5,000 spectators, and it is recommended that you buy your tickets in July, as soon as is possible.


It is incredible how petite toreros are (or should I say toreritos?). 

We allotted an hour for the bullring, stayed an additional 20 minutes, and it still wasn't enough time.
One of my favorite parts was the dueling exhibit.  To me, a duel seems like something glammed up for television, not a common event with established rules.  
I suppose it makes sense.  I mean, you can't go around having someone insulting your honor.  You must challenge them to a duel!  Even women were known to partake (I say 'even women' because usually they are more sensible than this).

The royal box is closed off to the public.  
I bet they sell the best snacks here during a bullfight.

Okay, now we are in the city of graffiti, also known as Granada.
I have never seen a city so covered before.  It wasn't art (this picture was one of the good ones) but random writing and quickly drawn images.  I asked one of our taxi drivers about it, she said that graffiti has been an issue over the past 15 years.  Graffiti is the worst!

We popped into a small cathedral on our way back from dropping off the car. 



Just when they start to blend together and all look the same, you see something totally different.



Monday, July 17, 2017

Día 6- Arcos de la frontera a Ronda vía Grazalema


Before leaving Arcos we wanted to see inside both of the town's churches (which close early and are not open at all on Sunday), and open even later than listed because they have to turn on the lights inside first (obviously).

Eric's suspicions proved to be true...

They in fact did have giants in Spain hundreds of years ago.



By 11:00 we were on our way through the fault-shaped mountains, heading for Grazalema, which seemed like a good stopping point on our way to Ronda.

We were surprised that there was a cop directing traffic, instructing people where to park.
And then even more surprised to hear people shouting in unison periodically, so curious as to what was going on in this tiny, supposedly quiet, white village.



Much to our surprise, we stumbled upon Grazalema's yearly tradition, the release of a bull into the streets, to celebrate the Virgen del Carmen.


We sought refuge inside of a plaza, so we could watch the guido-esque Spaniards taunt and then out run the bull.  Cheers erupted when it was done with good form.




A cannon was eventually fired which meant that everyone got a break, they would start back up around 18:30.

One couple we met in the plaza drove over 6 hours to witness this event.
What timing we have!  


The bars that we originally thought prevented cars from getting into the city, were really bull bars.  They look so different from the bull bars that we have back home...
I am glad that we didn't just walk through when we first arrived, as we considered doing, although it would have been nice to show the Spaniards some of our moves, it would have been the surprise of a lifetime.


Just an hour later we were in Ronda, one of the largest white hill towns.  

Trying sherry (for which the area in famous for) and some mediocre tapas (I miss the food in Córdoba!). 


Ronda is most famous for the Puente nuevo (the new bridge), built in the late 1400s.  
It spans the ravine, El tajo, 360 feet down and 200 feet across.




A secret mine was built inside the Arab fortress, for slaves to haul up water from a well near the river bottom.  I am sure that the slaves would be interested to know that people now pay money to go down into the mine (very little is free in this country, including churches!).



The Arab Baths, just outside the city walls, are even better preserved than the ones in Córdoba.


Water used to be brought up from the river by a horse walking in circles at the top of a tower, pulling buckets up one by one to be poured into the miniature aqueduct before being heated for bathing and purifying. 


As if we didn't see or walk enough today, we took the steep, dirt path down from Plaza de María Auxiliadora for the best view of 'new bridge'.  It is the reason that we are here after all.




The helado was well deserved, and very much appreciated.