May 2 - Antequera to Ronda
Breakfast was at a restaurant next door to our hotel. It was very basic. Afterwards, Cindy and I got into the car with Martha and Barry and drove over to the Dolmens. Dating from 2500 - 1800 BC, these were used as burial chambers by prehistoric inhabitants. We were able to walk into a couple of chambers. They were lined by huge stones which supported other huge stones that acted as a roof. I was amazed that I could stand up inside the chambers without ducking.
We dropped Martha and Barry at our hotel. They skipped today's ride opting to take a bus and train to Ronda. Jane was riding her bicycle today, so Cindy and I were on our own. Our first stop was at El Torcal. This is an area of unusual rock formations. We walked on a very rocky nature trail for 1.5 km to get a better feeling for the area. It was good to get some real exercise, but the temperature was rising to an uncomfortable level.
Our next destination was El Chorro Gorge. My GPS took us on a roundabout route, but we finally got there. Our first order of business was to have a wonderful lunch on a patio overlooking the start of the gorge. Then we proceeded to drive alongside the gorge while getting a good view of the hikers on the King's Walkway (Caminito del Rey ) - a treacherous path that hangs from the cliff.
The roads going to and coming from the gorge were very narrow. We had to stop often for cars to pass us going in the other direction. It was a very hilly drive, too. When we reached the top of the last hill, we had wonderful views of three reservoirs. Quoting from Simon's brochure: "Spain is a dry country, and water is a scarce resource. It also becomes a political issue as different Comunidades argue about how much water can be taken out of one river and channelled to another. The typical case cited is of farmers in Aragón complaining about their water being taken to water golf courses in Murcia. Drought is a frequent phemomenon. Many rivers only have water in certain seasons, and it is not uncommon to cross a dry water course with only the sign to indicate that there is a river there from time to time. During the last drought in 2008, container ships were being brought into Barcelona to supply the city with water. It is not uncommon to see reservoris which are virtually empty. Many areas of the country are actually desert. The most striking examples are those of the Bardenas Reales in Navarra, and also the Desert of Tabernas in Almería, Andalusia. The so-called spaghetti westerns (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and For A Fistful of Dollars) were filmed here, as well as parts of Lawrence of Arabia, and it is still possible to visit the film sets there our in the desert and take a horse ride around a Wild West village while cowboys stage gunfights".
From there it was onward to Ronda. We missed one turn on the way to town, but the GPS took us on a more scenic route.
Hotel Reina Victoria is very nice. It is near the cliff overlooking the valley below. My room has a wonderful panoramic view. Ronda is famous for a very deep gorge that runs through it.
After Happy Hour, I walked to the gorge and the New Bridge which was built in the 18th century. I had gourmet tapas with Creg and Patti from Calgary. We didn't start eating until after 8:00. I am getting used to the meal times but I admit that the walk back to the hotel was good for my digestion.