|Date:||September 12, 2000|
|Location:||Tarifa to Arcos|
Breakfast? Same as yesterday, minus the ham and cheese, plus a plain omelet. Gimme the ham and cheese back!
Driving to Ronda, the road starts getting twisty and turny. I'm doing fine, reading more Moby until we reach the really twisted bits. Then I hear that Bob is getting a little nauseous, so I offer him the use of one of our ReliefBands (an electronic wristwatch-like device that promises relief from nausea). He agrees, and I go retrieve it. Unfortunately, I'm focussing too much of my attention inside the bus while we are still running switchbacks, and I start feeling woozy. I collapse into my seat, and put my head at Brigid's knees, just in case I... Yes, I passed out. Brig takes good care of me, and by the time we reach the rest stop, I'm doing okay. When we reach Ronda, I'm back at 95%.
Ronda is a cute little town, split by a narrow, but very deep gorge, which is spanned by three bridges. The "new bridge" dates from the 18th century, and the roadway is 365' above the bottom of the gorge.
Ronda contains what may be the oldest bullring in Spain. If the bullring in Tarifa is for novices and clutzes, Ronda's bullring is for the most excellent of the toro torturers. We give the bullfighting museum and bullring tour a pass.
We walk along the gorge, and have lunch wth Kathy N., Kathy D., Kikue, Masako, and Jack H. at the Parador Cafeteria (Cafe). I have a "roast pepper salad," which turns out to be a delicious concoction of marinated roasted red peppers and eggplant, plus some black olives. Not what I expected, but just what I wanted. Brig has the fresh prawns (a spanish rendition of bak tzuk hah, i.e., less shrimp, cold, just slightly overcooked, more expensive, but tastefully arranged on the plate). Plain, but tasty. And bread, a coke, and agua con gaz. 3,013 pts or $17. For such a fancy place with such a view, they'd rip you off worse anywhere else!
While dining, we're entertained by an odd young man with an Elvis fetish. He's carrying a mini-blaster, playing "Hound Dog". He's sporting a somewhat toned-down pompadour. He's wearing chrome-plastic sunglasses (vintage, fat Vegas era). And he's cruising the gorge, looking for... Well, we can't figure out what he's cruising for. Perhaps this is a frat stunt? Or maybe he thinks he can meet kinky women this way? Or men? Who knows. I dub him, "El Rey de Ronda".
Unfortunately, service at the Parador is so slow that by the time we get the check, we have to rush straight back to the bus without any opportunity to sight-see. Yes, we're the last ones on the bus, late by 4 minutes.
On the way to Arcos de la Frontera ("de la frontera" = "on the border" is a common suffix for villages in southern Spain that were, for a very long time, on the border of the lines of reconquest from the Moors), I catch an impromptu siesta.
We arrive in Arcos to find that it's HOT. Happily, our room is nice and cool, so a little more siesta sounds good.
We walk up the hill (dodging the cars and organ donors) to an overlook at the top of Arcos' cliff, next to the Parador. (Thank goodness, it has cooled since we arrived.) There's a nice view of the river below, and the surrounding countryside.
Dinner is at El Convento. Yes, it used to be a convent. Now, it's a very nice restaurant: A white wine (varietal? that's a change -- they've all been regional up to now!) of palomino and reisling grapes from La Mancha. So-so. I prefered the tinto of cabernet & (?). No olives -- instead it's cooked & marinated carrots and potatoes. I have a veggie soup (very light, very nice), and Brig has the gazpacho (served with chopped onions, tomatoes, and green peppers to throw in)., also very good. My entree is a thin swordfish steak, covered with a little herbed olive oil, and served with mixed canned veggies. Well, the fish is good. Brig has the lamb -- no, it's veal -- no, it sure looks like beef -- in brown sauce (tastes dry too me, but Brig likes it), and some excellent country fries. (I never imagined that fried potatoes -- actually, potatoes in general! -- would be so popular in Spain! What did they eat before Columbus brought back potatoes?) Brig has flan. I have a nice apple compote (perhaps a touch too sweet, but a good cinnamon flavor).
Back at the overlook, a full moon lights up the sky. There's not much else to see out there... Early to bed, 'cause it's early to rise, tomorrow!