Better write about our day in Gibraltar yesterday before we move onto the Next Thing, which is a day trip by ferry from Tarifa to Morocco tomorrow!
Lovely sunny day & we had great views of both The Rock and Africa. We walked the 2+kms from our apartment to the border, where border control on both sides barely even glanced at our passports. On the way back, Greg didn’t even get his out of his bag as there was no-one at Passport Control. Driving into Gibraltar is a much more tedious process, if the long line of cars waiting at the border was any indication. The runway at Gibraltar Airport intersects the road, so we got to tick off another ‘bucket list item’ – walking across a runway. When a plane lands or takes off, the road is closed. Gibraltar is also the first British Overseas Territory we’ve visited.
If you want to know about the history, you can start here. I’ll just add a couple fun facts in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the Gibraltar Sovereignty referendum which was held in 1967 … the vote to remain under British sovereignty was an overwhelming 12138 for, 44 against and 55 invalid. Franco was so pissed off that he closed the border in 1969, and it was not fully reopened until 1985, 10 years after his death.
So, Gibraltar was interesting but kinda weird, like going back to 1970s or ’80s England in a time machine. Main Street reminded me of the High Streets I used to visit when I spent a few months in London in 1984, and not only because it was full of English people! The shops had a quaint old-fashioned feel about them, althought I do remember more off-licences in the average High Street than there were in Main Street. Being a little part of the UK, all prices are in GB pounds, although euros are readily accepted at most, possibly all, places, probably at a very disadvantageous exchange rate. Street and public signs are all in English and there are old-style British phone boxes & letter boxes. One thing I really liked was that many pedestrian crossings had ‘look left’ or ‘look right’ painted on the edges to remind people before they step out. I think every country in the world should do this.
The enormous P&O ship Azura was in port and had disgorged nearly 5000 people for the day – 3500 passengers plus crew. It has the Union Jack painted on its bow, and I guess most, if not all, passengers were British. We visited the supermarket nearest the port and found that there was no Cadbury’s chocolate on the shelves! Oh, the disappointment! We did find both fresh and canned rhubarb which we didn’t buy, plus Bakewell tarts and English pork sausages which we did buy. Last night’s dinner was a fry-up of sausages, potatoes and eggs.
We sat in the main town square for a while and I thought it might be fun to count how many people were wandering around wearing socks with sandals, but to my complete surprise, I only counted 6 people the whole day. Maybe the fashion police wouldn’t let anyone disembark if they were wearing socks with their sandals.
The big drawcard for most people, us included, is the Top of The Rock. We thought we’d walk up the Mediterranean Steps, which would get us somewhere near the top, then take the cable car back down. Information about how to actually get to the Steps was not plentiful, so we decided to get the cable car up and maybe walk down the Steps if we could figure it out. Return tickets for the cable car were 2 euros more than a one-way trip, so we got the return tix, just in case. Good thing we did, as it turns out. We had to wait a long while in the queue for the trip up, and while we were waiting I had an allergic reaction to something. Sore, streaming eyes, runny nose, felt awful. Which is all a rather dramatic way to say ‘I got hayfever’, but I’ve never had it before and it was horrible. I guess I’ll be adding an antihistamine to my first aid kit. It started resolving as soon as we walked back into Spain and I feel fine today.
I just wanted to sit somewhere out of the wind and away from the apes, so headed for the snack bar area on the top floor of the cable car building. Great views of the northern peak of the rock and over to Africa. Greg went to find those Mediterranean Steps and walked down them for few flights, but we had arranged that he would come back and meet me where he’d left me, then we took the cable car back down. The P&O ship had left and was replaced by 2 smaller cruise ships. None in port today, because nothing much is open in Gibraltar (or Spain for that matter) today, Sunday.
We were really lucky with the weather yesterday – clear skies, warm but not too hot. Today it was very overcast and The Rock was shrouded in cloud when we left La Linea.