February 2017 I set off to visit Ronda, southern Spain in search of almond blossom…
Arriving at Malaga airport I quickly found the bus to the city centre coach station and from there a bus to Ronda. Considering I don’t speak a word of Spanish I found it very easy and everyone was helpful – but doing your research before you go is highly recommended.
It was a sunny 15°C when I arrived, but as the bus wound its way up into the mountains of Andalucia grey clouds appeared and it began to rain. Fortunately it had stopped raining when the coach pulled into Ronda. Clutching a map (yes a paper thing not an electronic version) and dragging my suitcase behind me I set off in search of my hotel.
It was now mid-afternoon and my plans were find the tourist information centre, explore and find a shop to buy my food for the week. And a bottle of wine…
The tourist information centre staff were very helpful supplying me with bus timetables and the obligatory postcards for sending back home. I always send real postcards but apparently it is out of fashion! Last year the UK’s oldest postcard manufacturer shut down – see link.
Ronda is a beautiful little town, one of the white painted villages know as ‘pueblos blancos’ that adorn the hilltops in Andalucia. It sits atop a towering limestone escarpment through which the Del Tajo river has carved a spectacular gorge. Spanning this gorge is the even more spectacular Puente Nuevo bridge. There are walkways along the top of the escarpement with superb views of the surrounding countryside but the best views of the bridge are from the valley below.
On the way back to my hotel I found a small local supermarket and bought my provisions for the week – bread, cheese, salami, apples and some wine. Having not brought a bottle opener I was faced with a very limited choice of wine – there was just one with a screw-top. I am sure it could have doubled as paint-stripper but after a while you got used to it!
Later that first evening the rain started again – only this time it was relentless; the water pouring off the gutter-less roof and the noise echoing around the hotel’s somewhat utilitarian courtyard next to my bedroom window.
It was still raining hard the next morning but staying in my room was never an option – I was going to explore. So with a packed lunch and my camera bag I set off; I found the path that zig-zagged its way down through beautiful almond trees and into the valley below. The almond tree flowers before the leaves appear – the flowers ranging from white to pink cover the trees. They really are beautiful – even in the rain.
Thankfully the rain stopped around midday and I enjoyed a lovely picnic surrounded by pine trees. Suitably fed and watered I decided to carry on along the dirt track into the next valley – great views of the mountains, surrounding cultivated farmland and barking dogs. And just as I decided that it was time to set back again – you guessed it – the rain returned – this time accompanied by a strong wind. Battling back to the hotel into horizontal rain wasn’t much fun – but the wine tasted better for all that effort!
Checking the forecast later that night I found that the rain was disappearing and the sun was due an appearance late the following morning. I decided on a bus trip to another pueblos blanco – Sentinel de las Bodegas – famous for its houses built in and under the rocky cliffs. It was beautiful and the buildings were incredible – thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
The rest of my week in Ronda was spent exploring the town…
…walking in the surrounding countryside enjoying the views…
…but mainly just enjoying the fabulous almond blossom from early morning until the sun went down.