This weekend I took a day trip by myself and discovered a perfect gem a couple hours south of Sevilla-- Ronda. The town was built way up on a hill, surrounded by rolling hills colored Crayola Green, mountain peaks, and a clear blue sky. Right through the middle of the town is a small river that over time has formed a huge gorge. The two sides of the town are connected by a bride that spans 98m!
The best part is that this amazing natural wonder, combined with man's feat of engineering and strength, is completely unexpected. The bus drove up the sloping side of the hill and right into the newer part of town. Newer is all relative here because it is still very historic in appearance, but relatively commercial as well. You walk through the town past banks and shops and restaurants and are suddenly at the brink of a massive gorge! The other side is considered the true "historic" part, containing a classic cathedral and a fortress wall. The amazing thing about Spain is that there are so little safeguards and precautions taken so they let you climb all over without supervision! ;)
I guess they don't have to worry about insurance on a 13th century Moorish wall?
I cannot imagine how much fun it would be for kid to grow up in Ronda! So many things to climb, so many forts to discover and build...who am I kidding? I was a kid in Ronda! I came out of the gorge after hours of breathless ecstatic exploration, with leaves in my hair and mud on my boots and unknowingly waltzed into a 5 star restaurant (I was just looking for a good view), ignoring the ever well-dressed Spaniards lingering over 3-4 hour lunches. I lunched with Jack Kerouac, eagerly devouring a 3 course meal complete with a whole trout and lingering for a couple hours with Jack in my lap**, two glasses of wine- one for meal, one for dessert (on the house, naturally ;) and a spectacular view.
With what was left of the afternoon I stumbled upon a Wine museum and decided to relieve my sun-scathed skin and already sore muscles with a little viticulture. I love the history and art of wine-making, the beauty of wine country, and well, wine in general so it was a fine choice to top off a perfect day. :)
** I'm reading the unedited original scroll version of On the Road, which apparently Kerouac wrote in a 3 week haze of Benzedrine on a continuous sheet of typewriter paper, stretching out 119', "the road", literally, unfolds. There are no page or paragraph breaks at all. It is an endless, frenetic, stream of conscious, often nonsensical, constantly horrifying, surprisingly poignant, artful mess of a story. Because I have loved it so much, I just thought I would share some of my favorite passages so far with you...
"Although Gene was white there was something of the wise and tired old Negro in him, and something very much like Hunkey the NY dope addict in him, but a railroad Hunkey, a traveling epic Hunkey, crossing and recrossing the country every year, south in the winter and north in the summer and only because he has no place he can stay without getting tired of it and because there's nowhere to go but everywhere, and keep rolling under the stars, generally the western stars."
"Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk---real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious."
"A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world of ours. The announcer called the LA bus. I picked up my bag and got on it; and who should be sitting alone in it, but the Mexican girl. I sat right opposite her and began scheming right off. I was so lonely, so sad, so tired, so quivering, so broken, so beat---all of it had been too much for me---that I got up my courage, the courage necessary to approach a strange girl, and acted."
"We turned a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time."
"It was the end of the continent, no more land. Somebody had tipped the American continent like a pinball machine and all the goofballs had come rolling into LA in the southwest corner. I cried for all of us. There was no end to the American sadness and the American madness. Someday we'll all start laughing and roll on the ground when we realize how funny it's been. Until then there is a lugubrious seriousness I love in all this."