Arcos to Ronda roadtrip

Our next destination was Ronda, technically only a couple of hours drive away from Arcos so we made a leisurely start to the day before collecting our car from the hotel’s private garage. In our Lonely Planet Andalucia guide there was a ‘White Towns’ driving tour which ended in a town not far from Ronda. So given we had lots of time we decided we would follow it. We headed east initially entering the Parque Natural Sierra de Grazelema at El Bosque. From there we started to climb, passing a few small white towns along the way.As we drove there were a few parking bays to stop in and admire the mountains.Each time we left one I had to concentrate and remember to drive on the right not the left side. The ‘mirador’ (viewpoints) were well signposted and contained lots of detail about what we were looking at, in Spanish and English.We stopped at the highpoint and took a short walk to the viewpointbefore continuing on down the very windy road.After a while we came to another fantastic viewpoint. This time we could see a very long reservoir with rugged mountains in the background.We continued descending, constantly driving through switchbacks between mountainous outcrops of rock.There was even the odd castle tower to be seen.This one was on the opposite side of the road to the hilltop town of Zahara de la Sierra.Over time we have discovered that many smaller towns in Spain and France prefer visitors to leave their vehicles in carparks at the edge of the town. So we parked near the reservoir (lake) and began walking up into Zahara. After a while we stopped to catch our breath. Some of the town was now below us.It was at this point we noticed the time. Just about siesta time for Andalucia which means shops etc. close so we quickly headed into a small grocery shop and purchased a few things. However when we finally reached the main town plaza area we discovered it was a festival day and we could have bought food and drink here. Oh well.We looked around for a while then made our walk back down to our car. Not as difficult in terms of puffing as our sharp uphill ascent had been but certainly harder on the knees and hips. We ate lunch in the car by the lake then continued on. At Algodonales we took the A384 towards Olvera. We had read that it was another stunning hilltop town. As we approached from the west this wasn’t particularly evident. However as we made our way south we stopped to take in the view across the fields surrounding the town.The town was certainly prominent on the skyline with the cathedral and castle, dating back to Arabic times, totally dominant. Heading south through farmland we did spot another lovely white village, Torre Alhàquime.Our approach into Ronda and to our accommodation, Hotel San Francisco, wasn’t entirely smooth due to the one way streets and pedestrian malls but finally we arrived. The very helpful receptionist told us a good place to park our car for free near the hospital, a five minute walk away. Sadly they had no onsite parking. She also told us a few restaurants to eat at. One was in the touristy part of town, Bar de Quintana. We ate there that night. It was full of locals and tourists alike, noisy in a nice way and the tapas food plates were delicious and very reasonably priced. The other one I’ll tell you about in my next post. Meanwhile I’ll leave you with a photos of Ronda’s magnificent archway bridge and the gorge over which it is constructed.Needless to say we were very pleased we had allowed a few days in Ronda to explore more.

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