On April 9, 2011 we set out from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, not on Rick Steves’ list, but one of my favorite towns in Spain. Our destination was the historic cliffside town, Ronda, famed for its style, its bullring (“the largest and most interesting in Spain”), its gorge and its women. The above photo, taken in Ronda, is of a foreign woman from Northern Europe, judging by her accent. I didn’t get her name, but it was very likely not Ronda or even Rhonda. I stopped her mainly to take a photo of her dog, a beautiful Bernese, explaining that our friends in Kitchener are Bernese owners and go nuts over any of these big, lovely mountain dogs. I think she believed me… I’m not sure Anita did, but the rest of our day went marvelously.
Ronda’s most famous matador was Pedro Romero Martinez, who was the first bullfighter to develop it as an art form. His statue is in Ronda’s Alameda del Tajo park.
No. Not Pedro. This statue honours Las Damas Goyescas, a Ronda tradition since 1954. Every year 14 Ronda women are chosen to represent the city officially at all important functions. Many of them, like the one represented in this statue opposite Pedro’s, are gorgeous.
We stayed one night at the Hotel Reina Victoria, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite place in Ronda. They gave us a corner suite with a balcony overlooking the deep valley. We bought local fare and dined on our balcony.
On the way to Ronda we stopped at Zahara, a “radiant” hillside town of unparalleled beauty, marred only by two of the smallest WC’s in the world. The first two gallery photos are of Zahara, which is on Spain’s Ruta de los Almorávides y Almohades, named after the two strict sects of Islam who came as mercenaries from North Africa and stayed. Their presence began the decline of Andalusía’s golden age, when its Islamic civilization, based in Córdova, was the most enlightened in all of Europe. Why this name choice for the tourist route? Beats me.