Day 85 Gibraltar and the Rock
07.08.2016 - 07.08.2016 25 °C
With the freedom of a car for 4 days, we have the ability to choose our own adventure. As Gibraltar is only 159 km away - why not?
We headed down the highway in our little Ford Fiesta towards Gibraltar. It was also a chance to see what the Costa Del Sol is all about with the idea of perhaps coming back one day. In simple terms, its 150 km of hotels, resorts, golf courses, apartments and shops on one side of the freeway and grey sand, ordinary surf, no parking and very crowded beaches on the other. The golf courses do look tempting but I made up my mind this holiday was not about playing golf. The thought of coming back to this coastline is not appealing though and we decided not to investigate further. We'll leave the Costa del Sol to the thousands of English tourists who flock here.
The town on the Spanish side is called La Linea De Concepcion and we booked ourselves in for the night. After we checked into our hotel we walked to the border crossing and got through Passport Control. I use the term Passport Control very loosely as all it is is a short walk through two rooms, flash your passport, get a nod from Immigration / Customs Officers and suddenly you are in England.
The Rock is unmistakable. A giant monolith dominating the entire town. We could clearly see the strange phenomenon of the clouds forming as the air condenses up the south face of the Rock. These clouds then sit on north side of the Rock directly over the main streets of Gibraltar and eventually form into other clouds in the area.
Gibraltar is an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. It was captured by a group of Dutch and British marines during the War of Spanish Succession in 1704. As the story goes, the War was triggered by the death in 1700 of the last Habsburg King of Spain, the infirm and childless Charles II. Without an heir, he nominated the entire Spanish inheritance to go to Philip, Duke of Anjou, the second-eldest grandson of King Louis XIV of France. In 1701, concerned that this would create a "super country", a threat to European stability and the balance of power, the English, Dutch and Austria (Rome joined in as well) formed the Grand Alliance to thwart the French-Spanish plan and reduce the power of France, and off to war they went. It ended in 1715. However, to this day, the Spanish truly believe that Gibraltar is rightfully Spanish and it should be returned as such. Politics and claims of sovereignty are still active and every now and then there is a border skirmish which involves the Spanish border control checking every passport, and taking their sweet time, creating gridlock.
The UK however seems to hold onto this tiny chunk of Europe almost to spite the Spanish so instantly you get this feeling of ol' London Town. It has been a strategic military position for hundreds of years in particular the Second World War and the Rock rises straight up with the Straits of Gibraltar on one side and a shipping bay on the other.
We catch the shuttle and 100m later we come to halt at a traffic light - why, because a plane is taking off, of course!
The road crosses the runway of the airport and traffic. Air Traffic Control needs to stop cars, bikes and people crossing as we wait for the plane to take off.
Next we were dropped off at the bottom of the cable car and we enjoy 6 minutes of beautiful scenery as we rise up to the top of the Rock.
It happens to be 414 m high and at times on clear days you can see the coastlines of Morocco and Algiers. Instantly we meet the resident Barbary Apes climbing all over the buildings.
The second thing that captures our attention is almost like a smoke stack of clouds rising up the ocean side of the rock and billowing over the top and back towards the bay. As the warm air hits the Rock it rises and cools and then forms clouds right before you - the convection is awesome.
Standing on the platform all is calm and comfortable but stick your head over the edge and it's a roaring gale. This phenomena happens all along the edge of the rock face and we we wander around for the next hour. Jen has gone nuts with the camera in taking photos of the "cute" monkeys.
Every one is different and for the most part they are unimpressed by humans. Until of course, someone leaves a bag unattended or takes their eye off a bag of lollies and they pounce. They seem to have discovered that unoccupied prams are a good target, easily tipped over while parents are distracted.
Great Selfie opportunity, we were just waiting for the Monkey to poop all down his back.
They can be a little vicious if crowded or feel threatened, as one small girl found out after being bitten. The monkeys jump onto the approved taxis that drive up to the top to get a free ride along the top.
We climb around old war gun stations and take in the scenery over the straits of Gibraltar. For the most part the monkeys go about their day ignoring us, going for a stroll.
"Can we have a bit of privacy please?"
"Oh I know Mildred. Kids these days."
"Hmmm, I'm a bit bored.
Maybe I should flash my fearsome teeth and give a bit of a roar.
How was that? Scary?"
This fellow reminded us of one of Los Abuelos in Casabermeja on a hot afternoon.
Each monkey has their own unique expressions.
Universal tender moment between mother and baby
"Do you mind?"
I think we've all felt like this some days...
And who can resist the cheeky babies.
Rather than take the cable car back down the hill we decided to walk down and enjoy the scenery over the top of Gibraltar. Tip for travellers, maps of Gibraltar are crap! Hard to get lost but the map was all out of scale and many paths not shown and we eventually get down to Main Street.
We walk down a lane way and step into a typical street scene in London. English accents abound, pubs, Pounds Sterling is the currency, street signs, red telephone boxes, British post boxes and even a grey drab skyline hanging exactly over the town casting a nice grey hue over everything - just as the Poms like it. The clouds that form from the Rock hover over the town and block the sun to make the English tourists feel at home.
On our walk back to Spain, we walk to the airport crossing. Yes, you walk back over the runway and we could not resist a photo in the middle of the runway.
Back through the so called border crossing and our journey into Little Britain was over. We could see back and watch in amazement as blue sky changes into the clouds at the top edge of the rock face and float over the town. We have gone from Spain to the United Kingdom and back again in a day but sadly no stamp in our passport!