After our failed attempt to get to Ronda from Fuengirola, we thought we would try to get there from Gibraltar. The bus station in La Linea is not far from the border and it should be possible to get a bus from there to the train station in either San Roque (to the N) or Los Barrios (to the NW) but we'd heard it's easier to go to Algeciras (to the W) to catch the train to Ronda (which is to the NE). Logical logistics?
The 40 minute bus trip to Algeciras was totally uninteresting and in the town of Algeciras we didn't see anything worth seeing, but the bus station is conveniently straight opposite the train station. And the train trip totally made up for it.
This train station was like many others in Spain: spacious, modern, well equipped with a café and toilets, this one with two manned ticket booths and all for some six trains per day. The train itself was very new with displays everywhere informing you about the route and every seat equipped with its own electric socket for your laptop (or razor, or toaster, or…. this train travelling might get interesting...)
After leaving the La Linea area the track went inland and we enjoyed the view of a hilly and agricultural landscape. It had been a long time since we'd seen any cows! They were grazing in really brown meadows though. Further on the scenery got greener and greener, and then the hills got steeper and steeper, and the views more and more spectactular. And on the displays we saw how the outside temperature got higher and higher, up to 41°C. The route through the vast emptyness was along a river (in some places just a trickle) connecting small and pretty white villages, all with their train stations done up really nicely in whitewash with yellow trimmings.
The 1:45 trip was nearing completion, we stopped at the last station before Ronda.... and the train stayed where it stopped. After a while a railway guard came into the carriage to tell that something (couldn't understand what) had happened on the track further along and that we would be transported for the rest of the way by buses. And in no time there were 5 buses for different destinations. Arriving at the Ronda station we heard how there might or might not be any trains back that day, but if not, there would be special buses. However, this meant we didn't like to gamble on taking the 19:49 train (or replacement bus) back and maybe missing the last bus from Algeciras.
So instead of looking out for a shaded terrace to have a nice menú del dia and having several hours of strolling around the town after that, we did the strolling right away in the heat of the day, got some bread and cheese in a supermarket and had an icecream in the park. And we will go to Ronda another time again, because it's really worth a visit! What a lovely place. If you'd have to give an example of an Andalucian town, this is it. In the well preserved old town are lots of tourists (all the more obvious at siesta time when it's only the foreigners who venture out), but it somehow doesn't feel touristy. The views all around, seen from above the steep deep gorge right next to the town, are magnificent. But my, was it hot. I nearly burned my arms when trying to lean on a stone wall. So when we go back, it'll preferably be in spring or autumn, with the added plus of there being less tourists then.
At 4 o'clock in the station we heard that they “expected” the 16:16 train would run, but finding it took some time. The display didn't mention a platform and when told to go to number 3 there was a only train with a sign for Granada. Then we were told this would be the right train but it was waiting for a busload of passengers from further along the line which was still blocked by a broken down train. Exactly one hour later, the train set off.
And we sat back and relaxed, thinking we were probably lucky not to have taken the 19:49 one, and so could fully enjoy the scenery again.