Monday, August 23, 2010

Michelle Obama's Spanish Vacation - Visiting Ronda

Michelle Obama certainly has great taste in vacation venues when she decided to holiday in southern Spain last week with her daughter, Sascha, and friends. One of the most picturesque cities in the Andalucian area that she visited was Ronda. I certainly don’t have any insider information on her full itinerary in this Moorish town, but I’m sure she took in some of the more iconic offerings.

1. I walked through the Jardines Ciudad de Cuenca, a series of tiered gardens that sit on the edge of the gorge. These green spaces are a quiet oasis landscaped with palms, cacti, roses, stone benches and boulders.

2.At the18th century Casa del Rey Moro or House of the Moorish King, I visited the surrounding Islamic and European garden with its manicured hedges, lily pond, palms and cedar. Here, I climbed down the long, slippery underground stairway that was cut out of solid rock. At the end of the 365 steps that lead to the bottom of the gorge, I looked out at the impressive rock face and green water of the Guadalevin River.

3. Sitting on the edge of Ronda's precipice, the Casa del Don Juan Bosco is noted for its extensive collection of local ceramics. Decorative art also found outside the house in the tiered garden with decorative tile work, mosaics and fountains.

4. At the Plaza Maria Auxiadora or Plaza del Campillo with its flowering trees is a narrow path that snakes down to the bottom of the gorge. Along the way, I found the remains of the medieval city walls, an old Moorish door to the city and flourmills also from the Arabic period. This path has one of the best views of the gorge, El Tajo, as you stand face-to-face with the cliff and directly across from the New Bridge, and the waterfall that tumbles into the river.

5. The museum inside the Palacio de Mondragon displayed an interesting Muslim funeral exhibit with tombstones dating from the 14th century and an explanation of how the dead were buried on the outskirts of Ronda.

6. At the Arab Baths, I watched a video that explained, in Spanish, how water was pumped in from the nearby stream.

7. I could've spent hours examining arrest warrants, dioramas of bandits' hiding places in caves, their weapons, death certificates, and pseudonyms all on display at the appropriately named Bandit Museum. The extensive exhibits are devoted to the life of Spain's bandits, especially the bandits of Andalusia where they have long been romanticized in literature and myth.

8. Popular with locals, the Alameda del Tajo Gardens in the center of town are landscaped with iron arbors, palmetto, bamboo, conifers and a balcony hanging over the cliff edge. Here, I strolled the adjacent path lined with flowering shrubs and trees that parallels the gorge.

9. When I finally stopped to relax, I ordered a café con leche at a cafe across from the Plaza Dequesa de Parcent that's planted with tall conifers, palms and orange trees.

10. I followed the signs out of Ronda for Virgen de la Cabeza, a lovely short that winds through a hot and dusty land that's lined with old stone walls, olive trees and wild pistachio. This one-mile trail leads to a Mozarabic church that was built in a cave in the 9th century. I walked through the rooms cut into sandstone -- with monastic living quarters and others for worship -- and into the crypt. On the second Sunday of June, the locals make a pilgrimage to this hermitage where they honor the Virgin Mary with prayer and celebration.


15 comments:

Jane Louise Boursaw said...

This all sounds lovely, Jeanine. I'd still be in that Bandit Museum. I have a bit of a thing for bandits, which I'm sure is completely based on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

JTravel said...

Hi Jane, The Bandit Museum was one of my favorite places in Ronda.

Mooloolaba Accommodaiton said...

What a beautiful part of the world - we would love to see here too Mooloolaba Accommodation

kris bordessa said...

Well I certainly wouldn't want to have to travel as Mrs. Obama does - I can't imagine the lack of privacy - but this does sound like a lovely place. I really love historic spots, and it sounds like there's plenty of history here.

Vera Marie Badertscher said...

I'm so glad you mentioned the bandit museum. Ronda is a wonderful town, and we were blown away by the Bandit museum. Most fascinated by the pulp fiction and other parallels to the exact same time span in the western United States--where we now live. So strange to find the "Wild West" of Spain!!

Casey said...

So inspiring - visiting a place like Ronda would make me want to completely redecorate my house with tilework, mosaics, and saturated color from floor to ceiling, no doubt. Maybe soon....

Alisa Bowman said...

I'd love to be able to take my daughter to such places.

JTravel said...

Hi Mooloolaba Accommodation, Ronda has some amazing beauty no matter where you look.

JTravel said...

Hi Vera Marie, I couldn't agree with you more. I was so surprised by all the Wild West-type goings on in this part of Spain. Who knew?

JTravel said...

Hi Casey, Every time I visit this part of Spain -- and other parts as well -- I get all kinds of great decorating ideas as well. It's all very inspirational.

JTravel said...

Hi Alisa, I think Ronda would make for a perfect family vacation with plenty of nature-based and historical learning experiences to be had.

JTravel said...

Hi kris, I agree. I doubt Mrs. Obama had the opportunity to visit most of these sights. And, even if she had, having an entourage of security personnel tagging along I'm sure would've detracted from the serene experience.

MyKidsEatSquid said...

Even thought I lived in Europe for a time, I never did make it to Spain. After reading your descriptions I'm bummed I didn't make it that far west. What amazing places to visit!

JTravel said...

Hi MyKidsEatSquid, You're not alone. I know so many people who travel all over the place and never make it to Spain or Portugal, for that matter. If you ever decide to visit Spain, let me know and I could totally provide some additional great places for you to visit there.

canvas art print said...

I live in Europe and it's great!