I have added parts 2 and 3 to this original post and will try to delete the original Parts 2 and 3. Sorry for the confusion!
I have posted this report in the Spain Forum as I've included a link to some photos. This is the first time I have written a report or shared photos so, please, if there is a problem let me know. Thanks! Edited to read: I have also posted this under Trip Reports but without the link for the photos.
Having visiting Cordoba, Granada, Toledo, and Barcelona in 2017, and Seville, Madrid, and Avila in 1984, we decided to return to Andalucia in February 2020 to visit some of the smaller towns and to return to Seville. Due to COVID-19, the timing was not the best. When we left on February 22, there seemed to be little risk. There were few cases in Spain and most of those were in the Barcelona and Madrid areas. A few days after we arrived, the number of cases in Barcelona and Madrid escalated and the first case was reported in Seville. Nevertheless, there remained very few reported cases in Andalucia and most of the COVID-19 news was centered on those two cities and Italy. While many people were discussing the pandemic no precautions were required or taken in our region. Most people were concerned but not overly so because there were so few cases in the region. More about our return to the US at the end of this report.
Our first stop was for two nights in Carmona, about 20 minutes from the Seville airport. This was an add-on due to a change in flights by our airline, TAP. Carmona is a small town with beautiful entrance gates, remnants of the city wall, an Alcazar, and many plazas and churches. Many of the churches were not open and due to limited hours of the Alcazar we were not able to go inside. In our 1.5 days there we were able to visit a couple of churches, spend hours walking through the town enjoying the architecture, walls, and plazas. It was a great start to our trip!
Next we moved to Ronda. On the way there we stopped at the pueblo of Setenil de las Bodegas, a white town famous for being built into rock overhangs above a river. It’s also famous for its meat products and we enjoyed some of them under an overhang at our outdoor lunch.
We spent four nights in Ronda enjoying the beautiful scenery. The historic town is built on a hill separated by a gorge. The most famous pictures of Ronda are of Puente Nuevo, with its arches built deep into the gorge below. Ronda has several museums; churches; plazas, parks, and viewpoints; and of course, city walls and gates. It claims to be the birthplace of modern bull fighting and has a large bullring, which we only saw from the outside. We visited Palacio Mondragon and Casa de San Juan Bosco, mostly to see the gardens and views. We also visited Iglesia de Santa Maria la Mayor. In addition to visiting the church, we climbed up the tower for a walk around the roof and a great view of the town. At this time of the year there were not too many tourists and we were able to wander through the town enjoying all the sights without a crush of other tourists.
While in Ronda we took a day trip to two Pueblos Blancos. First was Zahara de la Siera, a pretty town built under a Moorish castle. Our age got the best of us and we did not climb all the way up to the castle, but we did enjoy the views and the atmosphere of the town. Next we drove over winding mountain roads to Grazalema, another scenic pueblo, this one built below limestone peaks. We spent a couple of enjoyable hours walking around the town, enjoying the views, and having lunch in a plaza.