Ronda to Benaocaz via Grazalema - Eating Our Way Around Andalucia - 2022 - CycleBlaze

October 16, 2022

Ronda to Benaocaz via Grazalema

A day of stunning views

We exited Ronda at around 10:30, noting that most shops in Ronda were closed on a Sunday morning, including the panaderías (bakeries).  So no treats for us.  Oh well, we've had a good breakfast at our apartment. We have grey skies today, but aren't expecting any rain. 

We started on a busier highway than we’ve seen, but traffic was light on a Sunday.  We were then almost immediately directed onto a not-very-good gravel road. I'm still flummoxed by the 'bike touring' route selection in Komoot.  We definitely need to change to 'road biking' to avoid singletrack and cart paths. 

Traffic on the bigger highway wasn't bad, with almost no big trucks, and a good shoulder. It was sad to see lots of trash along the roadside.

We headed towards Sierra de Grazalema natural park on a beautiful quiet road surrounded by cork oaks and grazing sheep. There were lots of cyclists out enjoying their day off, and motorcyclists too. Men, that is.  Road biking doesn't seem to be popular with Spanish women, but we did see one woman riding today among the dozens of men.   

We saw loads of soaring birds, probably griffon vultures that are native to these parts.   

Leaving Malaga province, we entered the province of Cadiz. It was a bit of a detour, but we biked up to stunningly beautiful village of Grazalema, which is apparently the wettest place in Spain. For us, that meant only about three rain drops. Andalucia is in the grip of a serious drought. Grazalema is a climbing destination with the familiar sight of of van-lifers (just like home!) and we saw climbers on some routes that looked pretty big to me. 

We had a picnic lunch of fresh bread from a Grazalema panadería, cheese from Ronda, jamón, and Spanish oranges. Yum. 

Heading for Grazelema
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It's in a 'natural park'. Not sure of the difference between that and a 'national park'. They both seem to allow cork harvesting and growing olives.
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Lots of sheep around - here they were using bathtubs as drinking troughs.
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A new province.
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Beautiful limestone mountains, and very quiet roads. There are direct routes south to the coast for anyone who is in a rush. This one is for people who want to take their time.
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Grazelema in the distance.
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And closer.
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There is a 'running of the bulls' festival here each year.
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Picnic lunch - the best!
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We finally saw our first electric car today. It was a car share at a charging station. They're definitely not popular around here yet. 

After leaving Grazalema, we had a lovely downhill ride into the town of Villaluenga del Rosario, and discovered that it's famous for its cheese. Too bad that the cheese museum was closed today. But we did buy a round of  'payoyo' mixed goat/sheep milk cheese for future picnicking.  It's a world cheese award winner, and it's VERY tasty. 

Not long after leaving Villaluengo, we arrived at our destination of Benaocaz - it's a sleepy town that I think is starting to get some overflow from nearby locations.  There were definitely fewer tourists and services than Grazalema. We were booked into a great little apartment furnished by IKEA, and had easy bike storage in the entrance. But no wifi, so it’s good that we have a cell phone to tether to. 

After showers and laundry, went in search of beer and tapas. But the only open bar wasn’t serving food til 8:30. So we had chips from a little convenience store kiosk that was the only thing open in town. And drank our beer outdoors in the suddenly gusty wind. The only good thing about the wind is that it drove the wasps away.  

The bar was full of men and boys cheering on a soccer game between Real Madrid against FC Barcelona - everyone was rooting for Real Madrid, who won 3-1.  Apparently it's a rivalry that goes way back, and their matches are known as El Clasico. 

Sunday night meant slim pickings for food.  We walked into one restaurant, only to realize that we were interrupting what looked like a family dinner. We did find a family run restaurant that opened at 8 pm and enjoyed a very tasty dinner.   I had lightly deep fried eggplant ‘fries’ topped with chopped hard boiled egg, bits of ham, and salmorejo sauce. Delicious! Gail enjoyed a cheesy/creamy chicken dish.  Then we returned home relatively early for Spain. 

Is there another country so protective of cyclists? The drivers here are courteous and cautious.
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We went over several passes today, and celebrated each one.
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Kathleen ClassenSo you should. Great accomplishments.
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2 months ago
Yet another col.
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Too bad the cheese museum was closed on a Sunday, but at least the store was open.
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Delicious, and worth the extra weight in the panniers.
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Arriving in Benaocaz.
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A delicious and unusual dinner of eggplant fries with salmorejo sauce, eggs, and ham.
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Gail broke a glass-topped coffee table while setting up pullout couch.  Glass everywhere.  But as I mentioned, all the furnishings were from IKEA, so there won't be a big bill.

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Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 210 km (130 miles)

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