Friday, October 15, 2010

The answer to life – 10 October 2010

Today's date was 101010 the binary representation of 42 which, according to Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, is “the answer to life, the universe and all that.” So was today life's answer to anything? We didn't discover anything particularly earth-shattering except noting that our visits to Ronda have a certain symmetry to them as our previous visit was on 030303..

Since our visit in 2003 we have been reminded of Ronda many times by romantic pictures of it brought back from Grand Tours and now adorning walls of stately homes in England. The appeal it held for the 18thC grand tourists still holds sway today as the town is full of tourists, all trying to get the perfect picture of the “New Bridge”. When built in the 18thC it changed the name of the then “New Bridge” to “Old Bridge”, which is a little further up the gorge. The then “Old Bridge”, just a little bit further upstream, is now called the Roman Bridge although, confusingly, was probably built by the Moors who held Ronda until the 14thC.

A town trail took us to all three bridges as well as the Arab Baths, town walls and the gardens of the Casa Del Rey Moro which were visited by Michele Obama two months ago. Apart from the splendid views over the gorge, the garden visit gives access to a “mine” which, in reality, is a steep stepped shaft cut through the rock below the house to give access to the river and ensure water supplies in times of siege. Once the Christian slaves had cut the access they then had the task of carrying water up the 200 steps. We had enough trouble negotiating the damp dark stairs without having to carry a pitcher of water as well.

Once the sun had swung around sufficiently to light up the photogenic side of the bridge we made our way down to the various viewpoints that only the more energetic tourists visit, delightfully free of tour guides and their flocks.

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