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Only Joe King

A light-hearted look at life in Andalucía and Spain in general. Its good points and its bad. This blog doesn't pull any punches.

Serendipity III – Two Hungarians, Joan Manuel Serrat and Pasos Largos
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 @ 1:06 AM

It’s happened again – Joe King has fallen “victim” to Serendipity.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, serendipity is the fact of finding interesting or valuable things by chance. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary goes for the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.


Ronda Reading Group

The question was posed on Facebook: Does anybody know of a book group in Ronda? I replied that I didn’t think there was one, but I’d be interested in joining it if there were. I suggested to the author of the question, Krisztina, that she should start one. I offered to help her.

This got a few likes. I also had a few people in mind who I thought might be interested. Within a few hours we had 12 or so confirmations. Mainly British, but also three Poles, two Irish, two Hungarians and a South African.

Krisztina and I arranged to meet for a coffee to get to know each other and to share ideas. Remarkably our thoughts more or less coincided. We scheduled a preliminary meeting for those interested to get together, to lay down our modus operandi and to get going on our first book.

We also had acquired our first sponsor, RondaLingua, the language learning company, who had offered us a venue for our meetings. Krisztina is a teacher there.


Ronda Valley Hotel

After sorting out a few bits and pieces in Ronda, I popped into the Ronda Valley Hotel, formerly the Hotel Don Benito, on my way home. It’s actually my “local”, being just 500 metres from my house.

While I was chatting to Francesca, an Austrian ‘workaway’ at the hotel, I became aware of a lady at the bar who was talking about working in the hotel.

Shortly afterwards, when she had finished, I engaged her in conversation. Her name is Judit, she is Hungarian, and had just got a job at the hotel. But wait for it ….. she lives in Ronda with her daughter Krisztina! You couldn’t make it up, could you?

She told me her daughter had had a meeting that morning in Ronda with an English guy about setting up a book group.

That was me, I said.

We were both gobsmacked, to say the least.

Francesca took a photo of the pair of us and I WhatsApped it to Krisztina with the message: Guess what?

Judging by her reply, she was as taken aback as Judit and I.

Serendipity, you’re at it again!


Joan Manuel Serrat

That same evening I was in Ronda, returning to my car in the underground car park in Plaza del Socorro, when I could hear music coming from the Círculo de Artistas. It sounded like one of my favourite Spanish singers, Joan Manuel Serrat.

I approached the building and spoke to the security guard. It was a live concert by José María Tornay singing songs by the Catalan singer/songwriter.

The concert had only just started so I bought a ticket for 10€ and joined the audience.

José María, supported by other musicians, trawled through Serrat’s songbook and interspersed with chat and interaction with those people present, he entertained the 200 or so members of the audience right royally.

I discovered Serrat’s music when I was studying in San Sebastián, aged 21. His album Mediterráneo was published in 1971 and I was hooked. 50 years later I still listen to that LP on a fairly regular basis.

When I was teaching A-Level Spanish in the late 70s/early 80s I used some of his songs as the basis for lessons, in particular La mujer que yo quiero, Tío Alberto and Barquito de papel.

What a chance encounter! Serendipity at work once again!


Pasos Largos

The lady Judit was going to replace at the Ronda Valley Hotel, Carolina, had told me she was leaving for another job. It transpires that she is to be socia encargada of the recently opened Taberna Pasos Largos in Calle Nueva in Ronda. In other words Carolina is to be the co-owner and manager.

As my wife and I were going to a flamenco show by David Palomar in Ronda that coming Saturday night, I thought we could try out the restaurant afterwards, so asked Carolina to book a table.

The name of the restaurant is interesting. Pasos Largos was an infamous bandit (1873 – 1934), who preyed on travellers in the Serranía de Ronda in the early 20th Century.  

We tried Taberna Pasos Largos. The food was fairly standard fare, but well prepared and presented. Over-priced for the locality, however, so we shan’t be going there again.

Not serendipity on this accasion!



For more information about Joan Manuel Serrat, click

For more information about the bandit Pasos Largos click

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