8/25/08 - 8/26/08 83 °F
So here I am on the FRS boat about to leave Tangier.
Goodbye Africa, hello Europe.........We hit the road out of Tarifa and on our way to Estepona. It is not a far drive.....less than an hour.
Have you ever played the license plate game? You know, where you look for plates from other states on passing cars and create mental checklist of which you've seen. It was always exciting to see one from a really far away state (that is what we did before portable DVD players)! Anyway, Steve and I played our own license plate game, except in Europe, you're looking for different countries and it is much more fun! We saw Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France and GBY and ABZ (what countries are those?)
We decided it was enough to check out a view of Gibraltar instead of going there. Here is a photo of the Rock of Gibraltar
After a frustrating attempt to find a parking spot, we went to Hostal El Pilar where I booked a room. It is a 250-year old building on a leafy square in the old part of town. We would discover that I unknowingly mixed up the dates, when we went to check in. They were extremely accommodating there and I would highly recommend them. The lobby was beautiful. The owners live there and there was always an old man watching Spanish TV in the lobby. hhahaaha. The floors were all tiled and hanging plants adorned arches and walls. It was very pretty. The room was basic, but had everything we needed. I was glad to be staying in this place for two nights.
We found a great tapas bar in town. It's cheaper if you sit at the bar, so we sat at the bar with a bunch of men and tried different tapas. Here is what a tapas bar looks like. You simply point to the one you want.
Estepona itself didn't appeal to us. We knew that Nerja set the bar high, so........ We walked to the beach and felt it was dirty. We debated how we wanted to spend the rest of the day and decided that we'd visit before-skipped, Ronda, one of the oldest cities in Spain.
It was an hour's drive inland into the mountains. We blew through so much gas (at about $6.50 a gallon!), but we are SO glad we checked out Ronda. It is an absolutely beautiful old city in the mountains.
Lonely Planet says; About an hour inland from the Costa del Sol, the stunning town of Ronda straddles the 100m-deep (328ft) El Tajo gorge, with the old Muslim town (La Ciudad) and the newer town (El Mercadillo) connected by three bridges.
Wandering around the old city, I shot a few pictures.
We came upon this huge gorge and these houses butted up against the edge of it. The sun was starting to come down and the warm light against them was a photographer's dream.
We decided to grab a bite to eat at an outdoor restaurant sitting on the gorge. Here is Steve
We got a cheese plate of local cheese and I got a salad and Steve got an Andalucian sausage (chorizo) dish, I believe. It was so quiet and the views from the table were breathtaking!
We ambled around the town as the sun set and I caught this scene from the bridge to the ciudad.
It was such a beautiful place, and we wished we had more time, but it was dark and we needed to make our way down the mountain and back to Estepona.
In the morning, we debated on where to go. We looked at Bolonia (in Cadiz province) which was about a 1.5 hour drive south, so we decided to give it a try.
There is a new, huge visitor's center accompanying a Roman city that they are still excavating. It is called Claudia Baelo. What is cool, is that the whole city is still intact.
Our next stop was the beach. The one in Bolonia was so windy, it felt like you were in a sandstorm on the beach. There were a number of hard-liners out there sunbathing, but we were on the move and we found another beachside town on our way back to Estepona, called, Getares. Here I am with some intensely bad tan lines! There is the Rock of Gibraltar hiding under the low clouds in the distance. We had some helados (ice cream) here as well - I had kiwi and coconut and Steve had nougat and vanilla fudge. We are going to sorely miss their ice cream.
It was approaching siesta, and we had about a 30 minute drive back to Estepona. We got back to Hostal El Pilar and napped before deciding how we would spend the evening.
We decided on escaping the city for a the most quaint and charming town, called Ojen. Here it is from the road.
We parked the car and walked up the steep narrow streets to the main square and settled in for what we thought was going to be dinner. Here is some film I took of the square.
We observe fairly quickly that there are no English speakers in this town, which is actually part of its charm! In any event, we see a cafeteria, which is a cheaper eatery. We notice a menu outside, here it is.
We assume that these are specials and when the woman comes out the help us, we are discussing among ourselves what the different things are. She doesn't understand English, so she's not entirely sure what we're saying. We aren't fluent in Spanish, but know enough to get by and I think she mistook that for us knowing exactly what we were saying. We ask for a pitcher of Sangria and she disappears into the shop as we settle in to an outdoor table. After quite a while, we surmised that we ordered everything we just said out loud! And that is exactly what we got! Turns out they are all tapas, small plates, and we ended up ordering more......we were very hungry and Spaniards don't do dinner like we do. So it all worked out. Everything was delicious. The Sangria in Spain is very good, because they are known for local red wines, of course. So here we are after being given our tapas!
We left after dark and returned to Estepona. When we parked the car, we decided to hit the "boardwalk". We kind of ignored Estepona until now, and we discovered quite a gem on its boardwalk. The boardwalk is in fact a wide tiled promenade lined with palm trees. It was filled with people, musicians, ice creameries, children's games, vendors selling wares and even a stage on which a bunch of children were performing a dance recital in traditional Spanish dress. That was very cool. Now it is like 11:30 pm and the streets are full and there are children bouncing on a trampoline affixed to the boardwalk on the beach. These people have so much life.
Two old women were walking ahead of us and one unknowingly dropped her keys on the ground. Steve grabbed them and tapped her shoulder. Permiso, he said. She was so grateful. She went on and on in rapid Spanish and we didn't know what to say as we couldn't follow her.
Anyway, it was a lovely walk on the promenade and Estepona's true character came out. It was a nice way to end this latest adventure. In the morning, we'd leave for the airport.
Even though, we skipped, Gibraltar, technically, we still "tripfecta"ed, because we spent the day in Ireland! All in all, this was an amazing adventure, with so many different contours and experiences.
I don't know when we'll be traveling again. We are pretty broke now. My dream is to go to Asia and work with elephants and also a trip to India/Tibet/Nepal!!!!!!! We shall see.......
This trip was another dream of mine come true and I got to share it all with Steve. I am blessed in so many ways. Thanks for following along with us!