Posts Tagged ‘ronda’

Spanish Roadtrip Chapter 1: Ronda and Gibraltar


2010
04.16

About one year ago, I officially declared that a Spanish road trip was THE perfect way to end a European one-year adventure. Take in as much sunshine as possible with me over the pond or something like that.

So, with the help of spanophone friends living in Granada at the time, we started to plan our journey,  taking the five of us to every corner of Spain. Quickly we realised two things: we were too short on time to explore an entire country and we would certainly have to wash dishes at some point if we actually went to all those places.


Afficher Spanish Roadtrip sur une carte plus grande

We decided to stick to four major places: Andalusia, Cuenca, San Sebastian and Barcelona. Yes, we did decide to actually cross the country but on a much more realistic journey than initially planned, starting south and slowly making our way up north and ending on the East coast.

Road block, Spanish style

We landed in Malaga at around 11 in the morning on a beautiful Andalusian day, meeting our Granada friends there. Drove straight to Ronda, which is about an hour and a half drive. In theory. In practice, however, things turned out a little bit different. Driving to Ronda isn’t exactly a walk in the park; roads are sinuous and steep most of the times, making the travel sick people, well, sick. It took around three hours in total, but not just because of my faint nature. At one point, the road was blocked by wild goats. We stopped for awhile and took a few pictures because it was quite an unusual sight for us urban birds.

Ronda bridge

Finally got to Ronda at around 3. We had a small gazpacho at Restaurante Flores, right by the Plaza de Toros. The whole street is actually an outdoor terrace where you can hardly tell the difference between restaurants. They might as well have a communal kitchen for all I know. Wandered around the city and took lots of pictures of the famous 120 meters tall bridge, which is the main attraction.

Then, we hopped back in the car and drove to Gibraltar, stopping a few times along the way to enjoy our surroundings. This time the journey was much smoother and we made it to our destination by 7. Crossed the border (which actually is a runway) without having to open our passport - apparently showing 5 Canadian passports is enough to get in Gibraltar. The customs officer told us the Upper Rock reserve was closed for the day. Shoot. Well, why not drive to the top and take a picture just to show we were there, we said.

Cutest monkeys ever

Now, again with the transportation problems, but this time on a whole other level: not only are roads very narrow and sinuous, but you can literally see the bottom of the Rock, right there, at your feet - 400 meters below. Yes, that’s scary, especially when sitting on the wrong side of the tiny, tiny car. Got distracted at one point by my friend who started yelling something about monkeys. Through my nervous and exhausted tears I didn’t get it a first, but then - what, monkeys? Oh my God, monkeys ! Everywhere ! Luckily, the observatory gate was still open and unattended. Not only did we get in after hours, but we saved some serious bucks and had a truly unforgettable experience - alone with monkeys, in Gibraltar, overlooking the sea and catching a glimpse of Morocco, at dusk. We just couldn’t get over it.

After a while on top of the Rock, it was time to call it quits and head back to our friends place in Granada for the night. We had a GPS (tenderly called Albert) who indicated us to go that way - but of course we decided to go the other way because it looked much more simple. So we drove down the Rock for 5 minutes only to face the worst possible scenario: locked gate. Someone, somewhere, must have been really upset we didn’t respect the rules. We couldn’t go any further. And no,we definitely could not

Gibraltar

turn the car around and drive back up. May I remember you that the road was about 2  meters large, merely enough for a car, let alone the fact that the sea is right there below us without any sort of protection other than a half-foot high cement block. We did the only possible thing to do: we drove in reverse, back up the hill, not knowing whether another car was coming behind us or not.

Probably one of the scariest experience of my whole life. We had no idea where we were supposed to go and the darker it got outside, the more nervous we were, Gibraltar not being recommended for tourists at night (especially in such a vulnerable situation I guess). We drove into another lane, but this time we sent two members of our team in search of locked gate before going any further, which they found. Back on reverse mode. At one point, we met a couple driving down the Rock too, only they knew exactly where they were going. We followed them and finally got back to Spain - exhausted, high on adrenaline and with what we knew was going to be a good story to tell our grandchildren one day - if my heart doesn’t fail from facing a similar situation again, that is.

Needless to say we had a good night’s sleep when we finally, thank God, arrived in Granada.

Up next: Granada, Cordoba and Malaga.