I am ashamed to admit it, but until very recently I didn’t know,what exactly Gibraltar was. I always thought it was a part of something, but not sure of what exactly. And the UK has definitely been at the bottom of the candidates list. And yet – it is.
Gibraltar is a tiny British territory on the Mediterranean. It covers 2.5 square miles (6.5 sq. km), making it the fourth-smallest nation or territory in the world. The territory also has a population of just around 28,000 people, making it the fifth most densely-populated nation or territory in the world. It shares a border to the north with Spain.
You can get to Gibraltar by land through Spain, by water, or by air. They have the tiniest airport, I have ever seen. And people actually walk on the runway, because that’s the only way to cross the border with Spain. You need to cross the airport’s runway in order to get into the country. When the plain is about to take off or land, they just put down the turnpike and everyone waits, until the plane is done.
That exactly what we had done, as we came by bus from Marbella.
We were dropped off on the Spanish territory and minutes later we were marching under the blazing sun into the land of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. No more rain here, we could really feel African presence from across the strait of Gibraltar, separating the two continents.
The most famous geographical landmark in the area is the Rock of Gibraltar, after which the territory is named. What everyone does is trying to get to the very top.
It can be done by foot (very laboriously, in my opinion, around 40 min), by the cable car, or by taking one of the tours offered by minibus drivers. We took the last option. Don’t worry, you won’t miss them. They will stop you 28 times and offer their services. It costs around £20 and already includes entrance fee to the Rock museum with its tunnels. The cable car costs smth around £18 plus you need to buy museum ticket separately. So it works out better to get the tour, since the guides can share some interesting information as well. Thus our guide told us, that before there was pretty much nothing, but the rock. So the whole territory around it, including the airport runway, I have already mentioned, was created by men. Like they do with the islands in Dubai. Unbelievable!
Also he told us, that even after living in Gibraltar for 40 years, and driving the tour bus up the rock every day, he had never been at the very top. No one has, as there is some military base there, and no one is allowed up there.
On the way up we encountered quite a few monkeys. They are very famous, and loads of tourist look forward to meeting them. This particular breed has no tails. They live on the rock, but when they get hungry, they just venture into the city, and make a lot of mess. Turning the bins upside down and getting into the open windows and doors, looking for food and throwing pans around. At some point the government even decided to kill off some of them, to restore some peace and order.
The ones that we saw, were adorable, riding on the top of the car, climbing people, stealing food.
Gibraltar is VERY British. Surprisingly so, since it was an apple of discord for so many nations, having been conquered more than any other place – by Muslims, Spanish, Dutch, Germans, English, you name it. It was even blockaded once by the Spanish and French, both from the land and the sea, so the only way to get into the country was by plane.
I was shocked to see Irish pubs, M&S, Dorothy Perkins, Barclays, fish and chips places. Oh, and also red double decker busses and red telephone booths. What!?
I have to say, that on such a hot, not typically British day, a pint of cider in the Irish pub was a God’s send.
Gibraltar is also a duty-free zone, that’s why many people come here from Spain to do some shopping, particularly the vice goods – alcohol and cigarettes.
It was an interesting and informative trip, in my opinion a day or two in Gibraltar will cover it. You don’t need more than that.