Category Archives: Expat Guide

Carrying ID when visiting or living in Spain

This is a question that Ronda Today gets asked all the time amongst foreign nationals visiting and living in Spain and every state seems to have its own rules, and of course there is overriding EU law that needs to be considered as well.

So, what exactly is the problem? Most British people do not have an ID card, and refuse to carry their passports every time they leave home. People from Germany and other European states have an ID card, but in some states you only need to have an ID card, you don’t need to show it on demand.

Spanish citizens all have an identity card known as a Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI), and the overwhelming majority carry it on them at all times. The card is most often used when making credit card purchases, but almost any activity that requires proof of identity will see them present their DNI. Continue reading Carrying ID when visiting or living in Spain

Book Review: Andalusian Sierras, from Malaga to Gibraltar (Crossbill Guides)

From the jacket, “At the Strait of Gibraltar, where Europe touches Africa, Spain shoes its rugged side. The jagged mountain chain that lies at the very southern end of the peninsula is one that harbours many delights. Dense, fern-draped forests alternate with unexpected bare mountaintops and dazzling steep cliffs. Flowery rock fields on windswept crests overlook picturesque white villages amidst green oak groves. These are the Sierra of Western Andalusia, an enchanting region with an incredible natural diversity.”

The first thing that stands out when picking up a copy of the Crossbill Guides Andalusian Sierras, is the heavy paper, and full colour photos and maps. The quality of the paper makes a huge difference to your enjoyment of this guide, which should accompany you in the car. Buy a second copy to keep on the coffee table, for easy reading at home.

At 208 pages, this is a meaty guide that is also only slightly wider than a paperback novel, and very easily fits in a daypack when you’re walking or hiking around the district. Though district might be too localised a description, since the area covered in Andalusian Sierras stretches from the Bay of Gibraltar, through the Alcornacales, Grazalema, Sierra de las Nieves, Torcal and Ardales-El Chorro parklands.

Visitors to the area are often struck by the contrasts between differing parts of Western Andalucia, that in such a small geographical area there can be so many ecosystems bordering each other. The terrain is unique in being the meeting ground where Africa is pushing into Europe, with high limestone mountains, rolling sandstone hills, and low fertile valleys.

Needless to say, the flora and fauna of the area can differ quite substantially. In Andalusian Sierras we are first introduced to the landscape, written in an appealing descriptive style, and heavy on facts. Climate and geology is discussed first, and includes schematics of the terrain explaining the various habitats to be found.

For the infrequent visitor to Andalucia, a book with 30 walks of the Serrania de Ronda is useless. Far batter to invest in Andalusian Sierras: From Malaga to Gibraltar (Crossbill Guides) with 14 excellent walks covering a wider area, that take in a broader variety of habitats. The majority of visitors to Andalusia are after all, only here for a week or two, and it would be a shame to not experience El Torcal, Grazalema, or the lowland walks of the Campo de Gibraltar near Tarifa.

Nature lovers who travel the world in search of new experiences will thoroughly enjoy the treatment of the the natural spaces in Andalusia by the Crossbill Guides Foundation. Whilst this guide only covers the nature of Malaga and Cadiz provinces, anyone familiar with the district would confirm that the native and migratory flora is amongst the richest in Europe.

Pages are colour-coded, and roughly divided into four sections, Landscape, Flora and Fauna, Walking Routes, and Tourist Information and Observation Tips.

The walking routes are graded, include a map, description of terrain, colour photos of highlights, and itinerary. The routes are; bird Migration along the Strait of Gibraltar, the Southern Alcornacales, the Northern Alcornacales, Climbing Aljibe Mountain, El Pinsapar Spanish Fir forest walk, Salto del Cabrero, La Garganta Verde, Along El Bosque river, the north slope of the Pinar mountains, the karst landscape of Villaluenga, the fir forest of Luis Ceballos, the hight mountains, El Chorro, and walking in the Torcal de Antequera.

The back of the book gives a species list for plants, mammals, birds, invertebrates, and reptiles. Curiously, the editors have decided to provide English, Latin, German, and Dutch, but not Spanish. This isn’t a huge oversight, but does mean when speaking to Spaniards about fauna and flora, you’ll need to use the latin name to find common ground.
andalusian-sierras-malage-to-gibraltar-crossbill-guides

Book Review: Emily’s Ronda Romance by Michelle Cameron

Ronda and the Serranía form the backdrop Michelle Cameron’s romantic comedy, “Emily’s Ronda Romance”. The story is an hilarious tale of a British couple who arrive in Spain after winning a Valentine weekend as second prize. First prize would have been a diamond engagement ring.

Emily wanted the first prize, she’s always wanted to be engaged. She’ll settle for two days in Spain, but after all that happens to them, she doubts their relationship will continue, despite all her scheming and planning to make sure Brian pops the question anyway. Spain can do that.

This is a story written in the mind of Emily, so we aren’t just entertained by their dialog. We also get to hear Emily’s thoughts. Her view of the world is sweet, funny, scary, and if Brian could read her mind, he’d run for the hills.

We are first introduced to Emily when she meets her boyfriend, Brian, as she signs the radio competition form. Almost immediately, she knocks him unconscious, slaps him, then falls in love with him.

From the airport in Malaga, to the apartment buildings as she enters Ronda, the plazas, the architecture, and then their excursion around the white villages, we are amused with Emily’s thoughts. At times she is disappointed, but most of her thoughts, are filled with interest and wonder.

During their holiday Emily gets a giggle from Brian’s misfortune as he stumbles through bad Spanish. False cognates are the bane of his trip, and sources of endless amusement for Emily. But don’t tell Brian she wanted a saddle to ride him up the steep cobbled streets of Ronda. Actually he does say he wants to read her mind. So, she tells him what she’s thinking. His silence speaks volumes. Emily’s mind is not for the meek.

Her mind daydreams of being an international fashion celeb, and Ronda is the perfect canvas for her photoshoots. She pictures herself as caesar at Acinipo, and wishes she could own a house in the countryside, and drive a convertible sports car with the wind in her hair. It’s amazing how much Ronda can change a person in two days.

As the reader, we are treated to in some moment, Emily’s scatter-brained thinking, her fleeting imagination, and her dreams as a woman. Unfortunately, her thoughts that should stay in her head, often exit from her lips, leading to several awkward moments.

Readers will of course recognise places and characters from the Ronda district, even though they are cleverly disguised to protect the (?) innocent.

Book Cover, Emily's Ronda Romance by Michelle Cameron