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Once you visit Ronda, Spain, you’ll never want to leave. There’s something about dining and slumbering on the precipice of the world. It gives you a hint of danger, of uncertainty. A thrill down the back of your spine and butterflies in your stomach.
Perhaps it has something to do with the way the twilight caresses the white walls of the small town with a soft glow. Or maybe…you know how when you’re truly connecting with someone, how the rest of the world just fades away? It’s exactly like that. The town just empties out at night. It’s just him and me in the intimate, quiet streets. We’re alone. And we’re alive.
Maybe it’s a little bit of all of it combined, plus some unknown factor, invisible to the human eye. But whatever it is, Ronda, Spain, has an undeniable spark of enchantment that makes it the most romantic city in the world. Paris, France, eat your heart out.
Orson Welles on Ronda
“A man does not belong to the place where he was born, but where he chooses to die”
Walking hand in hand with my husband down the ancient cobblestone streets, I think to myself, “I could die here. And that would be all right.”
Ronda, Spain, at a Glance
With a population of about 35,000 people, Ronda, Spain, is situated an hour and a half west of Málaga. It was an Arab village under Moorish rule for 7 centuries. Then, in 1485, when Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Moors, Ronda came under Catholic rule.
Reflecting its split history, Ronda is divided in half by the Guadalevín river, cutting through the Tajo gorge. On one cliff side lies the older “Moorish Quarter,” and on the other side lies the newer “Mercantile Quarter.” El Puente Nuevo, or “the new bridge,” unites the two sides of the village.
Mini Spanish Road Trip
We took a rental car for a mini Spanish road trip from Málaga to Ronda and back. Road trip in a foreign country?! My husband did most of the driving, and yes, my husband is a brave man! But that’s a story for another day. Let’s get back to Ronda. I could have easily spent our entire vacation in this small village in the white hill towns of Andalusia.
Ronda is often full of tourists visiting on whirlwind day trips. Despite what Ernest Hemingway may have said <see quotes below, at the end of the post>, there is a ton to do in and around Ronda during the daylight hours. It’s certainly more than you can fit into a single day, and this is reason number one why you should stay over night in Ronda.
But the town empties out at night as the tourists filter out, returning to larger cities. And this is reason number two, and maybe the biggest reason, why you
want need to stay over night in Ronda. After dinner, we would explore the city. It was quiet, peaceful. The cobbled streets were narrow, crooked, and intimate, with a soft glowing light from the street lamps. And the streets were empty save for us.
Sleeping on the Edge of the World in Ronda, Spain
My husband and I stayed at Hotel Montelirio, a hotel situated on the brink of the Tajo gorge in the Moorish Quarter. This 15-room hotel occupies the former Count Montelirio’s palace, built in the 17th century. But everything inside has been fully updated.
Amenities include WiFi, satellite TV, an elevator, disabled access, and valet parking. Pets are allowed. There’s even a Turkish steam bath and an open air pool over looking the gorge! Plus, the hotel is walking distance to just about all of the sites you’ll want to visit in Ronda.
TIP: Be sure to communicate your check out time in advance to give the front desk time to prepare for you departure, especially if you’re planning on checking out in the early hours. Also, if you’re driving, be sure to arrange parking with the hotel in advance.
The hotel restaurant, Albacara, offers Mediterranean and traditional Andalusian dishes. We ate dinner on the restaurant patio one evening at sunset, and it felt like we were sitting on the edge of the world. And the food was as good as the view!
Plaza de Toros de Ronda and Museo Taurino
Ronda’s bull ring holds great historical significance in Spain. First of all, it competes with Sevilla’s in claiming the title of the oldest bullring in Spain. But it’s a little bit complicated.
Sevilla’s bullring began construction earlier, in 1761, and was completed in 1785. Whereas Ronda’s bullring construction began in 1779 and was completed in 1784. The first bull fight, or corrida, was held in Ronda on May 11, 1784. However, after some of the spectator stands caved in, the bullring was closed for repairs, and did not open again until May 19, 1785. I’ll let you be the judge of which bull ring claims title as oldest.
La Plaza de Toros de Ronda also competes to claim itself as the largest bullring in Spain. The actual arena spans 66 meters (217 feet) in diameter. That’s 6 meters greater than Madrid’s bullring. However, there is only seating for 5,000 spectators at the bullring in Ronda, compared with Madrid’s seating for 25,000.
The museum at the bull ring explores the history of bullfighting. We took the audio guide as we wandered through the museum’s displays of costumes and artwork from the past two centuries, many of which hold high importance in the history of bullfighting. We also discovered displays of weapons from Spanish wars over the years.
Every year during the second week of September, Ronda hosts the Féria Goyesca, to celebrate Pedro Romero. Pedro Romero, a famous and beloved Spanish matador, competed against his great rival Pepe Hillo, in Ronda’s re-opening in 1785. During this annual week long celebration, matadors and their assistants dress in traditional costume from the Goya period. The Féria Goyesca is one of the few times through out the year they still hold a corrida in Ronda.
Arab Baths of Ronda, Spain
The Arab baths were initially built just outside the city walls near the original main entrance to Ronda. It was only early May when we visited, but it was already a hot, 15-20 minute walk from our hotel to the Arab baths. Although it was mostly downhill on the way there, it was even hotter uphill on the way back. Note to self—bring water!
Once inside the old ruins, markers led us through the reception hall, to the cold room, the temperate room, and lastly the hot room. In the hot room we watched a short five minute video about the construction of the Arab baths, presented in both English and Spanish.
The technology involved in the Arab baths was quite impressive. Water entered the hot room via an aqueduct. The water and hot room were heated by an adjacent furnace room where several large fires were tended, creating a sauna-like atmosphere. The warm room would have been used for massages and treatments. The cold room was used more for socializing while cooling down.
Culturally speaking, the Arab baths would have been a meeting place where citizens and visitors would spend several hours, passing back and forth between rooms. Individuals may not have used the baths daily, but may have visited to cleanse their bodies before visiting the nearby mosque to worship.
Puente Nuevo was what originally caught my attention and drew me to Ronda. It is one of three bridges that crosses the Tajo Gorge, and it is certainly the most remarkable. At 66 meters in span and 98 meters in height, it’s construction lasted 34 years and was completed in 1793.
For a minimal entrance fee, we were able to enter a room actually within the Puente Nuevo. Rooms within the great bridge were previously used as a prison and torture chamber. And in case you’re wondering, yes, prisoners were on occasion thrown through the windows to the bottom of the gorge below.
When we visited, there were no prisoners being tortured. We found only a display about the history of the bridge’s construction, not to mention the stunning views. It’s a fairly short visit, something quick, easy and fun to do while exploring the village.
What we want to do next time we’re in Ronda, Spain
Because there will definitely be a next time! There is so much to do in and around Ronda, we simply did not have time for all of it. Here’s a few of things we’d like to do on our next visit to Ronda.
Arco de Cristo or La Puerta de los Molinos del Tajo
You can hike down the west side of the Tajo or take a cab to the Arco de Cristo, AKA La Puerta de los Molinos. From here, you’ll find an iconic, postcard-worthy view of the Puente Nuevo. Rumor on the street is that the best time for photos and a visit is during the afternoon when the sun hits the bridge.
Directions: Leaving the Plaza de España in the Mercantile Quarter, cross the Puente Nuevo. Turn right on Tenorio, and stay right when the road forks. You’ll come to a steep cobbled path leading down to the Tajo. Follow this to the Arco del Cristo.
Caminito del Rey
Caminito del Rey is an exciting and breath taking hike that can be visited from Ronda or Málaga. It lies about an hour and a half drive from Ronda. You must book tickets in advance and you must be on time. Pay attention to which pick up site you are going to. If you are late, they will turn you away.
Pileta cave contains over 100 prehistoric drawings inside, discovered in 1905. An important tip to keep in mind, you must make a reservation to visit the cave. Also, groups are limited to 20 people. The cave lies about a half hour from Ronda.
Quotes from some of Ronda, Spain’s most famous visitors
If you still don’t believe that Ronda, Spain, is the most romantic city in the world, take it from this guy!
Ronda is the place where to go, if you are planning to travel to Spain for a honeymoon or being with a girlfriend. The whole city and its surroundings are a romantic set. Nice promenades, good wine, excellent food, nothing to do…Ernest Hemingway
Or this guy…
…and Ronda with the old windows of the houses, the eyes which spy out hidden behind the latticework so that their lover might kiss the iron bars and the taverns with half-closed doors in the night and the castanets and the night…James Joyce
I know I’ve only highlighted a few of the things to see and do in Ronda. Do you have a favorite sight or activity in Ronda I missed? Tell me about it in the comments below so I can check it out next time I’m there!
Looking for more places to travel in Spain? Read my post about What Happened When We Got Lost in Ávila, Spain, and Why I Fell in Love with the City. You can also follow me on Pinterest for more Spain travel ideas!
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Seaside, Oregon, makes for a great day trip from Portland, being just an hour’s drive away. It’d also be a great stop on an Oregon road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway. It is one of the more touristy coastal towns in Oregon, but definitely worth a visit. That being said, it really does have a lot to offer.
Seaside, Oregon, gives off a classic boardwalk vibe, complete with an arcade, bumper cars, and carousel. Walking down the quaint little streets of downtown, we were overcome by the smells of freshly baking waffle cones. We walked on a little further and were then taken by the smell of fish and chips. Each shop or restaurant we passed was seemingly tempting and teasing us to enter. The lighthouse-shaped street lamps are adorned with decorative starfish shaped lights, giving the downtown area a festive atmosphere. Take the time to really explore Seaside and you’ll find fun, hidden gems, like a crazy mirror hall hidden in one of the malls!
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1.End of the Trail
A monument to Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and Lewis’ dog, Seaman, stands on the promenade overlooking the Pacific Ocean, marking where their journey to the Northwest frontier ended. They reached the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805; their expedition had covered 4,000 miles and lasted nearly two years. In the end, they chose to set up winter camp in present-day Astoria, at Fort Clatsop, just 15 miles north of Seaside.
2. The Aquarium
The aquarium in Seaside, Oregon, is just off the promenade. This is a small aquarium and one of the oldest on the Pacific Coast. It takes maybe an hour to explore, but it’s worth returning to, as the exhibits change seasonally. During your visit, you can touch a sea anemone and feed the seals!
Note: Upon seeing reviews that the seals’ living area was too small, I did a little investigating. I found that although the area visible to the public appears small, the seals have a separate, private area available to them 24 hours a day, including both a pool and a dry area for resting.
3. The Beach
Seaside’s beach is one of Oregon’s more crowded beaches, perhaps because the small town is full of so much charm. The beach here is long and wide; we easily spent an hour leisurely strolling the beach in one direction alone. This beach also offers swings and volleyball nets.
If you’ve never been to the Oregon beach, just a warning, be prepared for any kind of weather, regardless of the time of year! We went in July this time and found it was cloudy and lightly raining one minute, then sunny and blazing hot just a few minutes later. But don’t be fooled – bring your sunscreen. You can get a sunburn even on an overcast day! Oregon’s coastline and beaches offer a rugged and wild beauty that you’ll love, regardless the weather.
4. Wheel Fun Rentals
Ok, guys, this one is a must. It was hands down one of the funnest things we did. We loved leisurely exploring the quaint town of Seaside in a surrey while getting some fresh air and exercise, and still being able to visit with one another.
Wheel Fun Rentals has two locations in Seaside where you can rent paddle boats to explore the inlet or bicycles and surreys to pedal around downtown. You can even rent a moped! Wheel Fun Rentals also provides self-guided tours to help you explore Seaside a little deeper, lasting 3-4 hours.
And with everything with COVID right now, I was very happy to see they immediately disinfected each vehicle after use.
5. Seaside Promenade
Get outside, and just take a walk. The Promenade is the perfect place to do it. Smell the salt air, listen to the ocean, watch the seagulls, and do a little window shopping. And be sure to keep an eye out for any street performers! You won’t be disappointed.
6. Enjoy the Street Performers and Artists
While exploring Seaside, we stopped to watch various street performers, including musicians, a sand sculpture artist, and a man blowing giant bubbles. The sand sculptor’s work was absolutely breath-taking in its detail. Just be sure to bring some change for tips!
7. Check out the Wall Murals in Downtown Seaside, Oregon
We spied several fun wall murals while riding our surrey around downtown, and we couldn’t resist coming back to some of them later for a fun photo op. We found this fun retro postcard photo-op, killer whales, and giant seaweed, all painted on the sides of buildings. Let me know if you discover more!
8. Buy some Salt Water Taffy
We bought our salt water taffy from the Candyman in downtown Seaside. Their salt water taffy never fails to be fresh and they have a huge selection of flavors. But the Candyman offers a lot more than just salt water taffy, including jelly beans of nearly every flavor.
Hint: Keep your eyes open on your way to the Candyman and you’ll spot the wacky mirror hall!
9. Ride the Carousel
Rabbits and giraffes and bears, oh my! There’s a carousel nestled in the center of Seaside’s aptly-named Carousel Mall, with all variety of fanciful animals to ride. While you’re exploring the mall, enjoy the cafe and find yourself a souvenir. Even if you don’t hop on the carousel, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a carnival, adding to Seaside’s classic boardwalk charm.
10. On our next visit to Seaside, Oregon…The High Life Adventure Park Aerial Challenge
Seaside has an aerial challenge course I’m dying to check out! High Life Adventure Park Aerial Challenge lies on the outskirts of Seaside just off Highway 101, and is open, come rain come shine.
There are age, weight and height requirements, so be sure to check out their website before you go. Reservations are best, as walk-ins are taken only if there is space. I’ll be sure to let you know how my experience goes!
Bonus Update! – Seaside Inverted Experience – An 11th Reason You Have to Visit Seaside, Oregon
I recently learned about the Seaside Inverted Experience from Chantelle of Flannels or Flip Flops. It looks irresistibly fun, and I just had to tell you about it right away! It’s a hilariously upside down photo shoot with lots of bright, comical scenes and props. So hop on over to Flannels or Flip Flops and check out Chantelle’s post about the Seaside Inverted Experience for some funny photos and good laughs. I’m sure you’ll be as excited to go check it out as I am.
If you’re looking for more travel inspiration, check out my post Clarice’s Travel Bucket List.
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First of all, who was Antoni Gaudí?
Everyone who had been to Spain told me I had to go check out the work of Antoni Gaudí. But I wasn’t at all familiar with Gaudi or his work. So I started looking at endless pictures and blog posts.
But in our digital age where so much is immediately available at the swipe of a screen, I wasn’t all that impressed from what I saw in photos. And a picture can only convey so much. So that is what leads us to this post. Who the heck was Antoni Gaudí and why do we care?
Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852. He was sick a lot. And because he was always so sick and frail, he wasn’t allowed a normal childhood, playing and rough housing and participating in sports like normal boys. I guess all great artists have got to have a little bit of crazy tucked away somewhere. There’s his.
So instead of the normal boyhood activities, Gaudí observed things. He observed the world and nature around him, and he drew what he saw. Nature and God were two great inspirations reflected in all of his work, and it redefined architecture as we knew it. And then Gaudi died in June 1926, just shy of his 74th birthday.
Being there in Spain to see some of Gaudí’s work in person, I was converted. But before you go check out his work yourself, check out the Gaudí Exhibition.
The Gaudí Exhibition Center at the Museu Diocesa de Barcelona
I would make it a priority to stop by the Gaudí Exhibition first. The Gaudí Exhibition stands right next to the Cathedral of Barcelona in the Gothic quarter, or Barri Gotic. We spent maybe an hour and a half there as an audio guide led us through the museum.
We climbed up and down stairs to different exhibits, although there was an elevator if needed. There we learned about Gaudi’s life, inspirations, and innovations in his architecture. There were 3-D models providing an example of his work process, and short films.
The route through the museum ended in the gift shop with fun, bright souvenirs just waiting to go home with you. Ok, now that you’ve checked out the museum, let’s get on to the meat of the topic: Why we care about Gaudí and why you can’t miss his work while you’re in Barcelona.
Here are 3 big reasons why we care about Antoni Gaudí
1. La Sagrada Familia
Gaudí took over the construction and design of La Sagrada Familia in 1883 from Fransisco de Paula del Villar. Construction had just barely begun the year prior in 1882. I was amazed to learn that La Sagrada Familia was built so recently. I was under the impression that we were far beyond the age of constructing massive and beautiful cathedrals or other pieces of architecture such as this.
So construction was started in 1882, but finished…when exactly? Actually, La Sagrada Familia is still under construction! Slated for completion in 2026, our admission prices help cover continued construction on this masterpiece. You’ll notice the construction cranes in many photos. But don’t let that scare you off. La Sagrada Familia is breathtaking and cannot be missed, even unfinished.
Built in the Modernista style, La Sagrada Familia has a surreal feel to it. Like the logic of a dream, Gaudí followed his own rules. At times I felt like the sunlight filtering through the stained glass windows played upon the rippled ceiling like reflections on water. Other times I felt like I was gazing up at a canopy of trees or at the cordae tendinae of some great giant’s heart. Gaudí definitely met his aim in imitating nature.
A Few Things You Should Know Before You Go
1. Book tickets ahead of time. Booking tickets is a must – you may not get in otherwise.
2. Include the Tower Tour and Audio Guide in your ticket purchase. There are two towers currently complete and open to the public – the Nativity Tower and the Passion Tower. We viewed the Nativity Tower and it was beautiful. I hope to check out the Passion Tower next visit.
3. Book tickets close to sunset. We took another blogger’s suggestion and booked our tickets close to sunset. We did not regret this – the sun coming in through the stained glass windows was unforgettable.
4. Show up early. I cannot stress this one enough! If you book your tower tickets close to sunset, I would be sure to show up early for extra time to view the rest of the cathedral. The cathedral closes to the public not long after the last tower tour is offered. I would plan on spending at least a couple hours here. Trust me, you’ll want the time.
2. Park Güell
Park Güell sits on a hill overlooking the city of Barcelona. Designed by Gaudí, it was originally intended to be an upscale, exclusive neighborhood, but was never completed or used for its intended purpose. Construction lasted from 1900 to 1914, at which time construction was interrupted by World War I. Park Güell first opened as a public park in 1926.
I was surprised to discover that Park Güell is quite large. There are two sections – one with free entry, the other with paid entry. Of course, the part you pay entry for is the part that’s most well known from postcards and pictures. For example, the iconic Gaudi lizard is located in the paid-entry section of Park Guell. And again, if you are planning on visiting the paid-entry section of the park, be sure you book tickets at least a few days in advance.
We ended up not visiting the paid-entry section of Park Guell this time. But if you decide not to visit the paid-entry section as well, I wouldn’t write the park off altogether. I can tell you the rest of the architecture and art in the park is absolutely impressive, beautiful, and every bit of it is worth your time.
3. Casa Milà or “La Pedrera”
Casa Milà, or “La Pedrera,” is located in the Passeig de Gracie, or “passage of grace,” which is an avenue in the Eixample district of Barcelona. Another design by Antoni Gaudi, it’s construction lasted from 1906 to 1912. It was built to be the private residence of Pere Mila (hence it’s name) and his wife Roser Segimon.
Casa Mila was nicknamed “La Pedrera” by the people Barcelona, which means the rock quarry. The building reminded the people of a pile of rocks. I suppose I can see that. But my initial impression of Casa Milà was that its undulating form belonged under sea in Disney’s Little Mermaid, perfect for a city near the ocean. It wasn’t until after Antoni Gaudi’s death that Barcelona started to love La Pedrera and feel proud to claim it as an icon of their city.
You’ll also find other Modernista buildings in the Passeig de Gracie, such as Casa Batllo, also designed by Gaudi, and Casa Amatller, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. For an entrance fee, you can take a roof top tour of Casa Mila and many other of these beautiful Modernista buildings.
I hope this clears up your questions about who Antoni Gaudi was and why he’s such a big deal. I would love to hear your own impressions of Gaudi’s work. What does his work make you think of? And what was your favorite of his constructions and designs to visit and why?
Here’s some more reading material if you’re looking for more ideas on what to do in Barcelona, Spain. Or you can read this if you’re traveling Spain on a budget and looking for free things to do in Barcelona.