Gibraltar

Gibraltar wasn’t on my radar until I discovered the following:

  • How cool the Gibraltar rock and its views of Africa were.  Yay, epic views!
  • How suitable it was as a day trip.  Yay, just the right amount of time!
  • And it was British territory. Yay, English!

Weather played a significant role for our visit to Gibraltar.  Knowing that the highlight would be to gaze across the Mediterranean at Northern Africa, the sun had to be shining.  I planned to enjoy Gibraltar either before or after our excursion to Morocco, and due to unpredictable weather earlier on, we saved Gibraltar for after.

I’m so glad we did. The weather was impeccable. I highly advise against traveling to Gibraltar if the weather isn’t cooperating, because the highlight truly is hiking up and down that massive rock and gazing across the sea to gawk at another country, another continent.

After ferrying over from Morocco back to Spain late at night, we drove the 30 minutes from Algeciras to yet another border between Spain and Gibraltar.  We spent the night in a quiet parking lot and woke up to this view:IMG_0654_1024

Then we drove over to the border, known as La Linea de la Concepcion, parked at the border parking lot for €18/day, grabbed our passports and walked across the border.  Having read that driving across the border could potentially take hours due to heavy vehicle searches, we opted to walk.  It was perhaps the fastest, simplest border crossing ever.  We don’t even think the patroller even looked at our passport pictures.

Walking across the border meant crossing an airstrip:IMG_0656_1024

Once in town, we hopped on the bus (line 2) for €2 or £1.50 each (pounds and euros are used interchangeably in Gibraltar).  The plan was to ride to the southernmost tip to check out the Europa Lighthouse, and meander our way back up the peninsula by foot to the top of the rock.  Having only the length of ~5k from the border to the tip, the entire region was easily walkable.

Europa Lighthouse:

Catalan Beach, vacant in the spring:IMG_0671_1024

Before making our way up the steep rock, we wandered a bit around the city center for a bite to eat.  And oddly enough, we ran into my parents!!!  They were on a 2-week Mediterranean cruise and we had planned to meet the following day in Cadiz, Spain, but we hadn’t planned on seeing each other prior to that.  Nevertheless, it was a pleasant surprise.
IMG_0673_1024

Then we made our way up the rock, taking in the scenic views on the way up.  For those less inclined to walk, there is a cable car for a price I do not know, but on a picture-perfect day, I demand that you walk!

We walked up the road toward the Moorish Castle and the WWII and Great Siege Tunnels, which cost us €1 each just to walk on the road.  (I believe the other road directly to the top of the rock is free, though.)  My original plan was to check out the tunnels, but I hadn’t considered British prices.  Because it was a gorgeous day out and we didn’t feel like paying to enter tunnels, we continued upwards.IMG_20160421_131441

At one of the lookouts, one of Gibraltar’s notorious macaques proudly posed for photos.

Once at the top of the rock, we encountered too many macaques.  Despite being warned about these mischievous assholes, one still managed to snatch Chris’s beloved Pen Pen out of his backpack when Chris opened it to put away his jacket.  Luckily, Chris did not hesitate to react.  As soon as she snatched the baggy that held Pen Pen, Chris immediately yanked back the bag from her dirty little claws.  Then he flipped her off.  Ain’t no wild monkey taking 18-year-old Pen Pen!

Most people make it to the top of the rock and immediately head back down.  Fortunately we ventured further down toward O’Hara’s Battery and we were rewarded with serenity and even better views.

The viewpoints were the perfect place to sit and ponder about what it meant to be able to sit on that rock–the freedom we had, and the reality of the many Africans’ dreams of crossing the border and sea to the land of opportunity.  Migrants still occasionally die attempting to cross to Europe, a journey we easily made less than 24 hours prior.IMG_0704IMG_0703

When it was time to make our way back down, we had to pass by more macaques.  Yes, they are cute, but they are not to be overlooked!

Gibraltar makes the perfect day trip–tiny enough to visit in a single day, with plenty of sites to visit, an endless amount of gorgeous overlooks, and naughty macaques to keep things interesting.  Although it was a last-minute, unplanned outing, it was an epic one.

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