Tag Archives: Ronda bull-fighting ring

Cycling Spain – Day 5 – Hotel Las Piletas to Ronda -(25 km)

We knew today’s ride would be short so we lingered at the hotel and chatted with the owner of this lovely farm-turned-hotel, Hotel Las Piletas.

We learned that this property has been in the family for over two centuries. Before her family owned it, they believe the land may have been owned by the Church, and before that probably the Moors, and before that the Romans. When they excavated for the pool they dug up many Roman artifacts that are scattered throughout the gardens of this hotel.

When she and her husband decided to renovate the property, most of the buildings were in ruins. Running the hotel has been the fun/easy part. Renovating and keeping everything working is a never-ending project. It’s easy to see, however, that they love their “vocation” and have created a beautiful home for their two daughters and themselves. Their hospitality made me want to move in and call Las Piletas my home, too.

Climbing another hill towards Ronda.
Climbing another hill towards Ronda.

We didn’t have long to reflect on the beautiful farm because our legs went from stiff to burning from the steep uphill our the gate. After five days of riding are legs were thick, sore and stiff.But that’s the cool thing about pedalling. It’s a natural warm-up and for me, much easier than running.

Our tour packet recommended we have lunch at a little place on the river near Cuevo del Gato.

Beautiful location for a restaurant but we  settled for coffee rather than wait for food.
Beautiful location for a restaurant but we settled for coffee rather than wait for food.

Unfortunately we arrived at 11:30 am and this high-end restaurant was only serving coffee until 1:30. We settled for a quick caffeine recharge and then we continued our adventure.

Cuevo los Gatos
Cuevo las Gatos

Brown tourist signs indicated a cave nearby and many groups trekkers were enjoying the Sunday sunshine and heading in the direction the sign pointed. Not wanting to walk, we mountain biked along the same track in search of Cuevo del Gato.

Mountain biking on the hiking trail until it got too steep and rocky.
Mountain biking on the hiking trail until it got too steep and rocky.

A long, rocky stretch of trail – too difficult for us on bikes – made us head back to the paved road. Luckly, the cave was visible from the road.

Our lunch stop.
Our lunch stop.

We ate at a simple bar-restaurant along the side of the road, and watched several local men ride up in their souped up Seats, a Spanish make of car, rap-style baseball caps turned sideways on their heads, pants riding low enough to identify their Boss boxer shorts. They walked to a table with the arms jerking and heads bopping rapper style to music blaring from the earbuds. Sipping beers and taking long drags from their cigarettes complimented their “bad-boy” Spanish rapper – if there is such a thing –  image.

The last few kilometers uphill into Ronda were sad. They indicated the end to our cycle tour and I really felt like we were just getting started.

Taking advantage of still having a bike, we stopped by the train station to buy tickets for Granada and then the world famous Ronda Bull fighting ring and horse center.

In the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway – or – A little background….

In keeping with my tradition of reading local authors or literature set in the countries in which we travel, I chose to read about Ernest Hemingway.

When were not cycling or eating, I was reading “Running with the Bulls” by Valerie Hemingway, the ex-wifeof the Ernest Hemingway’s late son Greg (Gigi).

Somewhere in the depths of my higschool English class memory I had learned that Ernest  fought in the Spanish Civil War and lived in Spain. From reading Valerie’s memoire, I also learned that Ernest was fascinated by the art of bullfighting and, in particular, the very famous bull-fighter, Antonio Ordonez.

Inside the Ronda bull-fighting stadium.
Inside the Ronda bull-fighting stadium.
Famous bull fighter from Ronda,
Antonio Ordonez, a famous bull fighter from Ronda.
A safety-zone from the bulls.
I wonder if Hemingway stood here for a photo…

Getting back to the Ronda bullfighting stadium (Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Ronda) and the art of bull-fighting. A visit the to museum is a “must-see”. Aside from the learning about the history of the bulls, the sport, and the horsemanship required of the riders, just imagining the characters in the book standing in the exact spot where I was, made the reading come to life.

To make the setting of Valeria’s book even more relevant, pictures of Ernest Hemingway are dotting the walls of the breakfast and lounge areas in our hotel, the San Gabriel, making me wonder if he actually slept in the same room as us.

I think Ernest Hemingway imbibed a great deal in local drinks.
I think Ernest Hemingway imbibed a great deal in local drinks. (Photo hanging in the Hotel San Gabriel)


The Hotel San Gabrial has been around a long time.
The Hotel San Gabriel has been around a long time.

At 6:00 pm we returned our bikes and walked to the town square where we dined on innovative and delicious tapas. We watched children play tag dressed in their Sunday finest (I think they had been to Mass at the cathedral in the square), and young couples walking arm in arm as watching the sun set.

We also talked about ideas for our next cycle tour…..