If you don't know what's coming next, then you're not nearly observant enough of foreshadowing. Well, in short, my train never appeared. Fifteen minutes, half an hour, then forty five minutes late. I returned to that same conductor and asked where my train, the train to Ronda, was. With a quizzical look, he gestured at the long gone train and answered that that was the train to Ronda. "No, no, no, no", I said, in both spanish and english. "Me dijo que estuvo el tren al Algeciras." "Si," he said, Ronda is a stop on the way to Algeciras. Well fuck me.
Long story short, the conductor told me to go in and talk to the ticketing guy, explain what happened and they'd transfer my ticket for the next train to Ronda/Algeciras. Shaking his head in pity, the ticketing guy did in fact do this. Only problem was the next train didn't leave until 4 pm. If I hadn't mentioned already it was about 9 in the morning by this point. My return ticket from Ronda was for 7:30 pm. It's about a 3 hour train ride. So much for my full day in Ronda. I spent the next 6 hours hanging out by the train station taking pictures of oversized flags.
As luck would have it, my train arrived somewhat ahead of schedule, granting me an entire forty minutes to spend in Ronda before I needed to be on my returning train. I stepped out of the station expecting to find myself a yard or so away from the towering cliffs I'd read about only to find myself in what looked like every other neighborhood I'd seen in Spain thus far. Flat, white buildings crowded together on streets aligned with no obvious pattern. I took a glance at what appeared to be a map of Ronda outside the train station and sprinted off in the direction I thought might take me to "Old Town" with its picturesque position. And just when I thought I had no time left and I'd have to return to the train station without a single view of the cliff that killed all those priests, I turned around a corner, saw a park, and at the edge of the park this:
Unfortunately, I couldn't spend much more time there for fear that I miss another train this day. So I turned and I walked back to the train station, my back to this beautiful landscape. This was all I would see that day but I'd remember it and tell of it to everyone I knew that it was perhaps the most beautiful town I'd ever seen.
I'd return a few weeks later, again with an early ticket to Ronda and a late ticket back. I'd make both trains and spend a long, entertaining wandering the old part of Ronda; visiting its beautiful Romanesque churches, Moorish palaces, and its museum of hunting. A beautiful place with a fascinating history that marked itself indelibly in my mind for its history, its beauty, and its ability to completely disrupt my travel plans.
View all my photos from both trips to Ronda in full resolution at my shutterfly site.