Destination: Ronda & Marbella, Spain

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On the beaches of Marbella (Dec 2016).

Once our two nights in Seville were up, my family and I packed our bags once more and headed out of the city with our tour group to our next destination in the Andalusian region. We were heading even more south, down to the Spanish coast to see the towns of Ronda and Marbella.

After about one to two hours of driving, we arrived at Ronda, a small town rich with Roman history as exemplified in its two bridges, called the “Old Bridge” and the “New Bridge” (very original, I must say…). While the former is literally five meters in length and almost invisible to the eye, i.e. you might miss it if you don’t look carefully, the latter is quite the looker: about 100 meters long and perched high above the ground in aqueduct fashion, the New Bridge was remarkable to look at, as well as take photos of. Interestingly, I found them very similar to the aqueducts in the south of France, in cities like Montpellier, Nîmes, and so forth. Considering that the Romans had established their empire there, too, I shouldn’t be surprised to have seen them!

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The New Bridge.

When we first arrived, however, we actually first went over to the vantage point, from which we got lovely views of the canyon below us. Grand and mountainous, Ronda is perched above what is known as the El Tajo canyon, and I found it to be different from the other cities in Spain that I’d visited thus far, i.e. were at sea level. That said, the views of the land below– earth and grass and all– painted a sublime image worth keeping for memories.

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Landscape views.

We also got views from the other side of the New Bridge, from the Mirador de Aldehuela. This time, however, we got views of the white houses situated on and along the cliffs, which for some reason reminded me of the blue-domed, white-washed houses in Santorini, Greece (which I’d visited over ten years ago). Although these houses in Ronda didn’t have blue domes, their architecture and location make for excellent vistas of the canyons and mountains, as said of the city being surrounded by this particular type of terrain in the south of Spain.

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White houses along the cliffs.

Our tour guide gave us a couple of hours of free time to explore Ronda on our own. Besides checking out the vantage points and the New Bridge, my family and I wandered through the quiet, narrow streets away from the town center, stumbling upon a couple of small churches and popping into this really cute alleyway with colorful potted flowers. Really, it’s the little things you *unintentionally* come across during your travels that make the experience even more special!

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Somewhere in the back alleys of Ronda…

Eventually, we somehow wandered all the way to the outskirts of the fortified city walls before deciding to turn back and return to the center. It was a bit of an up-and-down kind of walk, since the town is rather hilly, in that respect. We passed by what’s known as the oldest bullring in Spain (with a bull statue in front of it to boot), but didn’t actually go inside of it. Instead, we wandered along the main pedestrian street, which by noontime was filled with tourists shopping and hanging out inside of the cafes on the road; my family and I chose to pop into a small cafe for a quick break of churros con chocolate ourselves.

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Outside the oldest bullring in Spain.

Soon enough, it was about time to head back to our coach to leave Ronda for our next destination. We left around noon, taking another hour to reach Marbella (pronounced “mar-BAY-uh”), a beach resort town located along the coast of Spain and is known to have one of the warmest temperatures in the entire country, including in the winter! We saw the beach as we were making our way over, and our tour guide even pointed out the outline of the Iberian Peninsula in the distance (very faint, but visible to the naked eye). He also mentioned that, on a perfectly-clear day, one can also see Morocco! Quite incredible to be able to see another country, let alone another continent, from the other side!

We made it to Marbella in the early afternoon and after checking into our hotel, we had the rest of the day to go exploring on our own. Essentially, the town is mainly for beaches and tourists, not to forget expensive (think the Monte Carlo in Monaco), so it was a pretty relaxing day for us. My family and I headed over to the beach and strolled along the promenade for a while. Mind you, I checked the temperature and it was 20°C, or around close to 70°F. Considering that I’d been going through close to sub-zero temperatures in Normandy, coming to Spain (let alone Marbella) during the holidays was much-needed! Plus, as a Los Angeles girl at heart, visiting the warm, sandy beach brought back precious memories of home.

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Along the coast of Marbella.
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Lighthouse in Marbella.

 

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On the promenade.

Considering that we hadn’t had lunch yet, we found a small restaurant-cafe where we got a light, late lunch. Funny enough, it was a vegan-vegetarian joint, which I found very apropos for the healthy, “beach vibes” whilst there. That said, reading the menu which contained dishes such as juices, wraps, and so forth once again reminded me of home, with the huge culture of being healthy and fit ever-so prevalent in Los Angeles. Being in Marbella really did give me a strong sense of déjà vu for home…and I loved it!

After about an hour or so walking along the beach, my family and I decided to head back to the hotel to rest up. As I wrote, there really isn’t anything to do in Marbella, at least culturally and historically-speaking, for it’s just the beach. We made it back to our hotel where we took a break until dinner time, which was located in the hotel’s restaurant. It was buffet-style this time, and the quality was pretty good: there was this seafood rice, paella-type dish served at the bar, and for me enjoying paella and similar dishes as so, you can bet that I had second, even third servings of it! Once we finished dinner, we went back to our rooms to turn in, since we were only in Marbella for that one night.

We left the following morning, once again passing along the beautiful coast of the Iberian Peninsula on our way to the next destination. The sun was rising, and I was able to take this photo as it was happening, which was not an easy feat in a moving vehicle!

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Sunrise in Marbella.

Although our visit to Ronda and Marbella were short and relatively uneventful, I have to say that it was a good way to balance out the busier side of touring that we’d done back in Seville. If there’s anything I’ve learned from traveling, it’s that it doesn’t always have to be a “go-go-go” attitude for visiting cities and countries: sometimes, it’s good to have more relaxing days in which you don’t do much, perhaps take a small stroll in the town center or rest on the beach. I find that it helps to prevent burn-out, which can make traveling not as enjoyable. Essentially, traveling is both a way to stimulate and to recharge away from home, and I appreciated how Ronda and Marbella has made me realized all of that.

…but more *eventful* travels to resume soon! Stay tuned for my adventures in Granada, Spain!

 

— Rebecca

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