Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spain's Ireland - Ronda

March 5th brought on a lovely Friday where about 20 of us decided to participate in a little class excursion to another Spanish city, Ronda. We woke up early and scrambled to arrive at the location that had been set only to wait for bout 45 minutes for our director, Paula (pronounced Pow-la) and the bus to show up. We were not happy campers as we clamored aboard but we all had the excitement of adventure quickening our heart so there could be no real harm done. If I remember correctly, and bare with me here because this was quite some time ago, the ride there lasted about 2 and a half hours, probably a little more. We were heading east along somewhat of the same roads we traveled towards Granada but on a different type path. The drive was beautiful, as always, and I was witnessing my little slice of heaven, which is the Spanish landscape.

After winding though the hillsides for a while we came through a break in the hills and there was our final destination, perched up on a mountaintop, with a shell of cliffs making it a striking fixture on the horizon. The day was not sunny and bright, which was normal for the still rainy days we had been experiencing, so there was hint of fog lingering from early morning which made it all the more mysterious. I knew little, if any history on the city, other than it rested on a throne of jagged cliffs and that it was breathtakingly beautiful so I was anxious for both the views and the new-found knowledge that was only a short distance away.

I had never been on such a trip with few students and no real “leader” so I was a bit confused as to how the day would unfold. We arrived at the bus stop and all headed straight into the “Cafeteria” which has both a different pronouciation and meaning than we are used to but still associates with food. However, here it was more of a gas-station type feel with a tad bit more class. This description is of no importance though, so we all wasted no time in ordering our “café on leche” or coffee with milk and stopped for a few minutes to enjoy our little pick-me-ups. As we ventured out into the city, which really seemed much more of a small town, Paula directed us to a main road and then cut us loose until our appointment with a guide at the world famous bull fighting ring.

Since the majority of the group was girls (19 females, 1 male) we decided to spend this free time shopping and luckily, our lone wolf was a fan of the activity. This would be a great time to introduce one of the most entertaining characters I have encountered on my Spanish adventure, Ryne (rhymes with wine). Please be sure to read that correctly because this strapping young lad does appreciate being referred to as “Ryan.” Yes this an understandable and way-too-common mistake, but try to focus on the pronunciation so you can give his fabulously unique name the respect it deserves. His lovely Minnesota-trained voice has given us one too many quotes to giggle about. A group favorite happened in Granada when he said “I’m getting ten shades of silly tonight!” while my personal preference remains, “Girls and vodka is like cat and catnip…” These are just a few of the heavily accented quotes of wisdom that have been bestowed upon us and I intend to pass these wise phrases on to whoever is plagued with enough boredom to listen, aka you. ☺

Moving onward, we nosed around form store to store in search of the perfect boot and while many tempted our eye, none were dubbed “the ones.” So we continued our wandering until we came to a major intersection and we viewed to the left a bridge which stretched over these amazing cliffs. I had become so wrapped up in the stores, streets, and Ryne that I had almost forgotten a major aspect of our visit, the views. So, the minor group we were traveling with quickly headed in the newly desired location to gape in amazement at the beauty we found and take 15 pictures each of the same view.

Then we met everyone outside of the bullring and Paula had a surprise for us, she had a bull-fighting type costume for us to wear, with a gun? Not sure it exactly added up be she quickly dressed Tricia, then me and we all took turns posing for pictures in the outfit. It was certainly entertaining!

Having a great time!

So awkward

Work it Lo!

Being bulls?

Once we all go into the huge bullring, the largest in the world, we met up with our tour guide and everyone opted to have her speak in Spanish. This, was not good news for me but I did manage to mildly follow along. Plus, I was just having fun taking pictures as always. The building was awesome and we got to see horses, but no bulls, oh well. We went out to the center of the ring and it felt like we were on stage or something with the huge ring of stadium seated seats all facing us. We ventured down to the museum and looked a bunch of old matador outfits, some even with blood still stained from their fatal blow from a horn of a bull. Pretty creepy, yet kinda cool at the same time.

How could we not?

See my hidden message? :)

The guide then lead us a bit around the city as she pointed out buildings and locations all in Spanish I just soaked up the views. The architecture was beautiful, the shops quaint and the green hillsides were a jeweled emeralds. It sprinkled on us a bit throughout the day but nothing we couldn’t handle. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what all the views would look like with a sparkle of sunshine. Although the drizzle and fog added mystique. We learned that back in the days they used to keep prisoners down in the cliffs and I was easy to see how unpleasant that would be and the creepy factor was really big too.

Our next stop was the Bandits Museum. Yes, you heard correctly, we went to a museum full of history on famous bandits. Again, I lagged behind to take pictures of some of the “displays of bandits” which were quite hilarious so I enjoyed laughing to myself. I ended up grabbing my brother a gift there and I feel completely safe in listing it since he will does not and will not read this blog, so I got him a scary little dagger. Blake, my perpetually different brother, likes to collect weapons and even has a “weapon wall” in his room. This may sound alarming, and in all reality it probably is, but it has grown to a pretty impressive collection starting from when he was little and wanted a sword when we were vacationing in the Cayman Islands. And, I must admit while I have enjoyed making fun of him for this interest, I now see the draw to it. It was really, really interesting and kinda fun! Again, I feel that I can admit this because there is no threat in my secret being discovered by him ☺ ha ha ha Blake Mikel

Moving on, we were then granted more free time to shop and see the sights before meeting back at the bus station. So we did exactly that, we shopped a bit and I bought myself a new little pair of earrings and some post cards. Then we decided to settle down for a cup of coffee at this beautiful café right under the bridge that offered a breathtaking view. It was surreal sititng there and feeling the wind whipping around these cliffs and hearing the water that was trickling through the rocks down at the bottom. We all decided that although we had not been to Ireland, this would have been very similar as far as we were concerned.

With our stomachs rumbling we decided to venture out for some real food and came across a little place that looked like it would suffice. So we settled in and ordered some sandwiches. It is always fun to sit around and eat with friends because you learn so much more about them. Ryne talked about his girlfriend and we each tried to give some advice. We shared stories about one another and laughed a lot. We are really all starting to become comfortable around each other and it is fun to finally hit that level.

Afterwards, we started out for our trek to the station stopping to peek in a few stores every now. We got back on the bus and most closed their eyes for the ride home. But, as always I watched the landscape movie and was sad to say goodbye to the beautiful “Spanish Ireland.” It was a really fun trip and I would highly recommend venturing there to anyone who ever gets the chance. Sooo pretty, although we missed Katrina who was galavanting through Amsterdam!

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