Gibraltar, United Kingdom

Karie on Jun 23rd 2008 09:10 pm

We managed to hit 3 countries on 2 continents in 2 days, with less than an hours travel time between each of them.  The southern tip of Spain was not only the perfect launching point to hit Morocco, but also the British territory of Gibraltar.

The Spanish buses don’t take you directly into the U.K. territory, but the bus station is conveniently located about a block from the border.  You can spot the infamous Rock of Gibraltar from miles away, but after crossing the border, you’ll encounter one of its most unique traits before you even get to the rock.  You will cross an airport runway.  It’s the only runway in the world that has a stoplight, where traffic (both by vehicle and foot) can cross freely between take-offs and landings.  We first crossed it by bus, but later went back again to walk it on foot, just to say we did.

That was only the first of oddities found in this 2 ¼ square mile plot of land.  We crossed the runway and headed directly to the cable car station, which takes you to the state park on top of the rock.  While in line, we were approached by a guy selling a tour.  We had no intentions of even paying attention, but he was doing such a great job at selling to the people ahead of us, that we ended up signing up ourselves.  It turned out to be only 1 Euro more expensive than if we had done it all on our own, so it was a pretty good deal, and we liked the guy.
After a few photo stops along the road, we arrived at St. Michael’s Cave, which houses a Cathedral against a backdrop of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites.  The location is now used as an entertainment venue, and you can walk on paths even deeper into the cave, through the stone formations.  I’m pretty claustrophobic (I once cried in the middle of a gold mine tour), but these caves are huge and didn’t bother me a bit.  They’ve done a great job with the lighting and background music, which really enhances the experience.  You realize how good places like Disneyland are when you start comparing “the real thing” to the imitations, instead of the other way around.  This place was like that – almost too crazy to be real.

The tour moved on from there… next stop: monkeys.  The Barbary Apes have lived on this rock for centuries, and lucky for us, it’s baby season!  Oooh, I love baby animals.  They tell you not to feed or touch the monkeys because they bite and are not potty trained (among other reasons).  However, our guide assured us that he works with these monkeys every day, so he had our group stand still and take turns holding a monkey just long enough for a picture.  We saw another guide put a monkey on a girl’s shoulder, and that turned out to be a huge mistake.  The monkey tried to climb up on top of her head and in the process pulled out a big chunk of hair, knocked off her sunglasses and scratched her face a bit.  I bet it made a great picture though.  Anyhow, we did see a couple of snippy monkeys, but for the most part they all just hang out and pose for pictures.

Once we came down off the rock, we hung out around the town below for a while.  There were a couple of cruise ships in port, so the town’s population dramatically swelled for the afternoon.  It’s a cute little town, complete with a few British touches, like the red phone booths and fish & chips galore.  The official language is English, but being so close to Spain, we found many people were bilingual, or at least spoke acceptable Spanglish. (It’s thought that the term Gibberish came from Gibraltar.)  Most places will also accept Euros (and probably even Dollars), but will use whatever exchange rate they decide upon at the moment, so definitely get out a few GB Pounds if you plan to stay for any length of time.

I thought it was the perfect day trip, with a few really unique things packed into a small space.  Judging from all the cruise ships, I’m not the first genius to figure that out.  I guess some places are popular for good reason though, right?

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Filed in Photo Gallery, Travels, United Kingdom | Comments (1)


One Response to “Gibraltar, United Kingdom”

  1. 1
    Nomadic Matt Says:

    just when i thought u were up to date!!!! where are you now? and where will you be? I’m off to London in a few hours.

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