WEEK 2 – DONA LOLA RESORT, SITIO DE CALAHONDA PART 3

Thursday – It is our 38th wedding anniversary today and we are looking forward to our trip out with http://www.monteaventura.com to Ronda. We love the guys from Monte Aventura, Hugo and Antono have become good friends over the years. As it was our anniversary we got a special tour, with a young couple from Germany, and were driven by Antono’s brother in law Hans into the nature reserve and to places we’d not seen before on the way up to Ronda. My leg was playing up but I had my stick just in case and there was no way I was going to miss this amazing day out. However, before we met up with Hans we had to get rid of large slug that had decided to walk into the kitchen!

So 9.45am Hans picks us up outside Dona Lola and we drive off to Marbella to meet up with the young couple who were to join us. Then onwards and upwards to our first stop of coffee in a restaurant with stunning views and lots of lovely cats wandering around and a group of motorcyclists on a road trip pulling up for their break too. It was great coffee for a cheap price and lots of interesting pictures and carvings on the walls to look at.

Next stop was in the nature reserve and it was a popular place for mountain bikers too. Hans explained about Pinsapo trees and the flora and fauna of the area and we really loved walking in the fresh air. My knee even held up!

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Pinsapo tree
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Acorns on a Spanish oak tree

P1040747P1040751We continued on our journey to Igualeja where there are freshwater pools and caves and where we met up with Antono and his group. It was so wonderful to meet up with him again,  his passion and knowledge of the area and its eco system is amazing and he never ceases to make me feel that I am part of it all.

P1040754 P1040755 P1040757 Hans then took us to Pujerra where they are the centre for sweet chestnut cultivation and they were at the beginning of their harvesting time. We stopped off in a tiny little bar and were offered olives, peanuts (you throw the shells on the floor!) and fresh raw chestnuts all washed down with a couple of glasses of local wine. We were joined by a couple of locals and a man who seemed to be the local expert, it was so lovely. Coming out of the bar the locals were buying their hot chickens from a mobile shop parked in the narrow street!

Next was a lovely drive through chestnut woods, and through the cork tree woods. Cork is such an amazing thing. Each tree has its cork harvested every 10 years so some trees are a rich chestnut brown colour where the cork has been newly removed and you can see the different stages of growth as you go through.

P1040767Next on the itinerary was Juzcar the blue Smurf village. It was picked to be the back drop for the two Smurf movies and the village agreed to paint their village blue (apart from a couple of villagers!) and to make it a great place for people to visit. It was quiet when we visited, the children were still in school but the whole village was resplendent in blue paint and some great Smurf features and artwork on the walls. Definitely worth taking children to see it.

P1040793P1040769 P1040791 P1040790 P1040787 P1040784We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant we’d eaten at on our last Ronda trip with Monte Aventura, Restaurant El Anafe in Parauta. It does amazing rustic food and I started with the gazpacho soup with egg and tuna followed by boquerones (sardines) and creme caramel to finish. John had a starter of a vegetable and chicken soup (almost stew), then slow cooked venison in red wine and he also had the creme caramel (flan) to finish. We had lovely red wine with the meal and met up with Antono and Hugo there. They were so wonderful, wished us happy anniversary and we chatted for awhile until they had to go on with their tours. Wish we could’ve had longer but it was good to see them again. Then before we left they had arranged with the owner for us to have a special glass of sweet Malaga wine to celebreate our anniversary. It was a special moment and the owner of the restaurant joined in and wished us well.

Onwards and upwards towards Ronda, watching for eagles and yes we saw some in the distance and vultures and some little grouse type birds in the rocks. Hans was great at explaining things to us and stopping for photo opportunities. And so we reach Ronda! It is one of my favourite places in Spain and we never tire of looking around the same places over and over but this time (after finding my cow on the balcony) Hans took us to a part of the old town that we’d never been to before and told us the story of how the buildings had changed whether there were Romans, Moors or Christians in charge of the town. I can honestly say that on our next visit to Ronda we will definitely explore some more of the old town and learn more about this amazing place.

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Where’s the cow?
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There it is! MOO!
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From the gorge below Ronda
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Great view, shame about the hat! LOL!

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View across to North Africa and Gibraltar! Pity it wasn’t clearer but its pretty amazing!

Our drive back towards the coast was equally amazing, another couple of eagles, views of Africa and Gibraltar and views across the mountains that were breathtaking. It really was a memorable day. Thank you to Antono and Hugo for making sure that we had such a good guide in Hans and treating us so well.

And so we got back to Calahonda at around 8pm with our table booked at Meson de Calahonda for 8.30pm we rushed around freshening up and then rushed through the shortcut and onto the underpass and up to the restaurant. When we got there Rafael came over and said that he realised who I was and was really pleased to meet me. He was so sweet, he apologised for not recognising me on our previous visit. As we’d eaten at lunch time we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to eat a big meal but we needn’t have worried, Rafael said the special of the day was suckling pig and he could do us one between us and then he also got us a lovely muse bouche of cauliflower soup in a little cup and recommended a wonderful bottle of wine.

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Happy 38th anniversary! John looks different without his glasses!

The food was stunning, we’d never had it before and it was just melt in the mouth (apologies to vegetarians!) and the vegetable were beautifully cooked. We tucked in before we realised we’d not taken a photo! Doh! We had the almond tart with cream and fruit for dessert, with coffee after. We now have a new favourite restaurant in Calahonda – Meson de Calahonda – fabulous atmosphere, fabulous food and friendly, welcoming staff.

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