Where to start? It was quite a whirlwind weekend with lots of new experiences and chance encounters. Also lots of tapas and wine, lots of walking and talking, and lots of fun. Though I think my favourite moment was sitting on the Parador terraza late on Saturday afternoon watching the rooks clowning around over the gorge, sweeping past us and then, suddenly clapping wings to sides, they’d abruptly pause in midair before plummeting downwards headfirst letting out a gleeful shriek, then catching an upward current and doing it all over again. Their obvious joy was infectious and a delight to watch.
This whole adventure came about when new friend and soon to be semi-annual Sevilla resident Kathy Oler invited Peter and me to visit the pretty white village of Yunquera. She and her husband Walt had been planning to go there for the day to visit a couple who were living up in the mountains and running their own olive oil biz. This morphed into an overnight trip when I was able to find a charming B & B in Ronda that didn’t cost a fortune, and so off we went…
Getting to Yunquera seemed pretty straightforward as it’s only about 35 kilometres on the other side of Ronda (which is about a two-hour drive from Sevilla), but what I didn’t realise was that those last 35 kms were on skinny mountain roads that twisted their way up and up past some quite spectacular scenery including a few sheer drops… not the best situation for someone suffering from motion sickness and agoraphobia (me!). But it was worth it.
We got to meet Ann Larson and Kenton Smith, who moved to Yunquera nine years ago, leaving IT jobs in London to live the “slow life” as olive farmers in southern Spain (though they both seem to work twice as hard as any city dwellers I know!). We took a bit of a walk over to the olive groves and were invited to sample some of their own olive oil with freshly baked foccacia and some local jamón. Heaven. You can read more about their life and adventures on their blog, and I’ll be writing more about Ann’s great line of natural skincare products. And so after a lovely visit and promises to meet up again in Sevilla, we made our way back to Ronda.
The Baraka is a charming boutique B & B that is owned and run by the equally charming Anahid Blannin, who was very welcoming and made us feel right at home. By the time we arrived it was already getting on for Beer O’clock, but before heading out I got Anahid set up on Twitter because I knew I’d be wanting to tweet about our experience there (I’ll also be doing a proper review on the Sevilla blog). This was when we went and sat out on the Parador terrace having over-priced beers while enjoying the stupendous view and playful rooks. After that we went back to the Baraka to freshen up and head out for tapas as I had come armed with many suggestions from other Twitter friends. We ended up having quite a lovely selection of tapas both that night and the following afternoon for lunch. I’ll write them up in detail on Viva Las Tapas but here are some of the tasty dishes we tried.
On Sunday morning we sat in the beautifully tiled patio at the Baraka and had a fabulous breakfast that Anahid had prepared for us, including fresh coffee and toasted rolls, gorgeous tomatoes with basil and olive oil and an amazing Lebanese dish called labneh, a sort of yoghurt cheese with olive oil and herbs, which I shall have to make some day. Anahid has quite a colourful and entertaining story about how she ended up in Ronda from Lebanon, via London and California, and we got to hear all about that after brekky. But then it was time to pack up and get out to see more of Ronda.
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon going to the bottom of the gorge, across the old Roman bridge and then… back up again! I really struggled with enjoying the views while being so close to the edge at times. Once or twice I felt a full-blown panic attack coming on, but managed to stay calm. Then we went into the “old town” where there were more VIEWS. Don’t get me wrong, they were fabulous views, but by then I think I was reaching my limit and really needed to be somewhere less exposed. Happily we found the prettiest square to stop and have a cold drink in the shade before going to look for somewhere to have lunch. I have to say that Kathy and Walt were very patient with my tapas researching, which ended up taking us out to a couple of places that ended up not being open on Sunday, but in the end we had a nice snack and then it was time to collect our bags from the Baraka and head home.
It was simply a wonderful weekend, and the sort of thing I’d never have been able to do without two generous friends offering to take us there and back again by car. There really are so many great places like this to see that aren’t easily accessible by public transportation. But this time I was lucky and now have many fabulous memories and one more trip to add to my 20th anniversary list. Life is good. 🙂