My words cannot possibly do this remarkable ranch justice. Everything....I repeat, everything was perfect. This ranch which can accommodate as many as 22 guests (all arriving on the day we left...fin de la semana).....was ours and ours alone. Except the company of Ramona, the housekeeper and cook, the companeros Miguel and Antonio, the owner Maria who was away for the first night and three dogs and two cats (apart from the bulls and the horses). On our arrival, Ramona gave us the tour and a small walkie talkie. We were instructed to call her whenever we needed something. That was unnecessary because whenever we did need something (mostly food or beverage), Ramona remarkably appeared. Because we had already taken our menu del dia in nearby Vilches, we arranged for a small bite in the evening....a beautiful salad for Liz and a serrano ham and manchego cheese sandwich for me. Of course, accompanied by a bottle of Crianza which, unfinished, had a yellow ribbon (to identify the guest to whom the bottle belongs) tied to its stem and left on a shelf for future imbibing.
Before the evening was through, we arranged to go horseback riding among the bulls the following afternoon at 5 p.m.
The first full day began with a simple breakfast and then a day trip to Ubeda and Baeza. I was particularly struck by the beauty of Ubeda, reminiscent of an Italian hilltop town and the Sinagoga Del Agua (dating back to the 13th century). I have seen a lot of synagogues in my time...never one like this.
On arrival back to the ranch, the horses were already saddled. After a quick change of clothes, we mounted up and were directed by Miguel over hill and dale encountering vacas and toros around each bend. Coming along for the ride were the two working dogs on the ranch, including Alvaro. As an aside, Alvaro and I fell in love. I love dogs but I have never felt such a connection with a perro. Where I went, Alvaro went. If I had a siesta by the pool, Alvaro cosied himself right next to my body. But enough about my amigo Alvaro. We were encouraged by Miguel to give the horses a little run, which we did, and I can say that my galloping prowess is as poor as ever....bum bouncing relentlessly on the saddle....but while I can't say the horse and I were one....I did stay on top of the sturdy caballo. Once dismounted, we relieved the horses of their saddles, led them to the back of the paddock and, one by one, gave them a well-deserved hosing down followed by a half bucket of oats. Happy horses.
That evening, Ramona made a terrific spinach dish for both of us while Liz followed with trout (trucha) and I had lomo de cerdo (loin of pork). Homemade flan followed.
The following day, we spent the morning with Miguel touring the ranch in a serviceable 4x4, travelling to different areas to empty huge bags of food in a circle for the bulls whose only interest in us was how quickly we could dispense their food. One lovely bull, about 1 year old, allowed us to feed him by hand. Then it was back to the horse paddocks, where we opened the stalls to allow the horses to roam the campo for the day.
The rest of the day was spent reading under umbrellas by the pool and taking lazy walks in the open fields. Were I to say to myself, before this experience, that I would become accustomed to encountering bulls at 100 feet and staring them down with nowhere to run, I would not have believed it. But that's what happened. Something about this place chilled me out so much, that the bulls sensed no tension and simply scattered after seeing I meant them no harm.
Diiner was a cream of calabaza soup followed by a slow roasted chicken.
Each night we retired to one of the three common living areas where we watched Mad Men on our computer before a fragrant fire or the BBC World News on a modern flat screen TV.
The evenings were dead quiet but for the sounds of the bulls in the corral immediately outside our door. So peaceful and restful that I had dreams for the first time in ages.
It was hard to leave, but a good time to leave. It might not have been the same had we been sharing with several boisterous Spanish families who we understand might not take their dinners until 11 pm and would carry on until the very early morning hours. We consider ourselves very lucky.
For a completely different account of our stay, along with some great photography. go to Liz's travel blog: http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Spain/Andalusia/Ja-n/Linares/blog-540941.html (at least to see a picture of Alvaro).
El Anadio....hasta luego!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.