Day 2
Sunday October 26th 2008

Thank heaven for the clocks going back last night, that gives us an extra hour to catch up for lost sleep yesterday. Jude struggled out of bed first and went for a wander at about, breakfast is served until 10.30am so we have some time yet. 10 minutes later Jude came hurrying back saying that the clocks in the hotel read gone and we'd better get up fast or miss breakfast - perhaps Spain did not pt the clocks back on the same date as Britain. We scrambled up and dressed at a run and headed off to the restaurant which was only mildly busy so it loos like everyonn else had already finished and gone.

Breakfast buffet was a choice of continental and full English, cereal, meats, chocolate croissants and fried egg, we tried it all. by 11.15 am people were still coming in to eat so it seems like they just hadn't got around to changing the clocks yet and we'd rushed for nothing. The real coffee machine was a struggle to use seemingly to randomly decide to stop working for 20 minutes at a time, unfortunately coffee in the other machine was undrinkable. At least it wasn't only us who were baffled, many guests walked up to it, pressed buttons wait, look bewildered then walk away again.

The water was still cold

Something in the breakfast disagreed with me (probably the bad coffee) so we lazed around the pool for the morning, Jude & David braving the icy waters, trying to stay in the sliver which the sun penetrated to whilst I braved the loungers. Most of the other guests were English with a few Germans scattered around.

By lunchtime I was feeling better, actually I had been for a couple of hours but was enjoying lounging around, not wanting to fritter away the whole day we headed off to Ronda, a small village with a big bridge which we reckoned was about 30km inland, half an hour or so at most. That of course was without including the mountain range that was in the way, at the Marbella turnoff we say our first signpost which said about 50km ! The road was wiggly and steep but like the US there was a white line to stop you falling off and tumblint a thousand feet. About an hour later we entered the outskirts and looked for somewhere to park.

Driving through a small market square a signpost was misread. The sign located at the bottom of a steep hill with 2 roads ascending it appeared to us no to mean priority to traffic coming down but rather an indication that traffic going up should take the right hand road and traffic down the left hand road. Fortunately a Seat Leon is not a wide car, the tarmac quickly turned to cobbles and the houses snuggled in from the sides as the road went up a 1 in 5 incline, carefully avoiding teh parked cars with at least 3" to spare on each side we eventually found ourselves high above the main road and there was a steep incline back down to it, reaching it we then had to wait for all the rest of the cars that had come the correct way.

We ended up parking back at the entrance to Ronda and walked up through the old town walls. Not really knowing what to expect (only Jude had read the guide) we ambled through the backstreets before coming out on the bridge - Wow what a sight.

It was 3pm by this point or 4pm English time so we had lunch at the edge of the gorge with a view to die for.

Finding ourselves in what was obviously the real market square we stopped for the daily postcard to Chris. Selecting a birds eye view of the town we spotted a bull ring and preceeded to use the postcard as a map

The left side of the bridge was taped off with police tape lying on the ground, ignoring it I peered over the edge but could see nothing of interest, crossing on over we strolled randomly around interesting looking (touristy) backstreets. One was lined with restaurants on both sides and the whole of the centre was covered in tables, we could not figure out how you could tell which establishment you were dining at or whether the waiters simply raced to be the first to get amenu to you..

Although initially undecided about whether to visit we rationalised that this would be our only chance and should not be passed up whatever we thought of the "sport".

The visit was totally unguided, people were left to their own devices to wander pretty much where they liked, most of the back areas were open including where they kept the bulls, passageways, training areas, stands and a small museum.

Passing first into the arena we were alone and there was a feeling that you were IT, the centre of attention and the only one that mattered. If the place had been full of 2000 screaming spectators you could imagine how the matadors think they are kings. I would have been happy to simply stand and soak up the atmosphere,

Out the back we wandered into the bull pens whose doors were operated by ropes from a gallery. From the pens they could be directed either into the main ring or a training area, the bull corridors had little archways between the areas large enough for a human yet too narrow for a bull.


Out the back there were horse stables as the ring is used for horse events and shows. Winding our way back to the start we encountered the museum which told how it was in Ronda that the first rules for bull fighting by non-mounted men were devised, it appears that before then it was all done on horseback with long spears.

Not wanting to drive back over the mountains in the dark we decided to head home early, passing the bridge the environmental police who had roped it off had obviously just completed whatever it was they were doing,, several seemed to have absailed down to the gorge and were wandering back along a narrow path.

Stopped at a tat shop to buy a spain pendant for my gilet and a T shirt for Chris. We didn't have time to make our way down to viweing platforms we'd seen at lunch. Just arrived home before dark, not wanting a full meal we popped along to the next strip trying to find a supermarket open on a Sunday, bought some rolls and salami but then had to drive miules around the dual carriageway system to go back the 200 yards in the wrong direction.

Ate tea on the beds watching a bull fight on Spanish tv cheering for the bull. We thought it most unfair that when the bull managed to rip the cape from the Matador another person came on to distract the bull, we thought that the Matador should have to try and retrieve the cape. Turned it off before the end as we couldn't stomach any more.


©2005 Rob Hayward