Monday, October 18, 2010

Gibraltar - the Rock

We went to the Rock. On a bus. Highly recommend a visit to the Rock on a bus. You can take pictures out the window of the bus as you approach the rock. And you don't have to sit in...
this LINE:
Not to say there wasn't a little waiting but, Gibraltar has limited space, narrow streets and where do you park once you get there? And - even if you do park on the Spanish side (parking comes at a cost) and walk across the border (border control on both Spanish and English sides), it's a bit of a jaunt. Including a trip across the Gibraltar airport runway:
See that: Ped crossing and bike crossings noted alongside the auto lane on the runway. Just a bit bizarre. Not unlike the idea that the British still hold this "rock" as their own at the entrance of the Mediterranean. Not bizarre in a "doesn't make sense" sort of way but bizarre in that they've tenaciously held onto this 6 km square piece of granite for so long.

You leave Spain behind once you cross through the only entrace/exit and enter Great Britain essentially. Per our tour guide, Andy - a retired HMS Army gentleman, only UK citizens may be residents of Gibraltar (subject to same immigration laws as UK). Gibraltar has it's own currency, the Gibraltar pound, which is based on and same rate as the British pound. However, they have NO problem accepting Euro's - just remember the 'bank' will take it's cut on the currency translation so it's best to use your credit card unless you have pounds with you.

Gibraltar is something of a Tax-free shopping haven (primarily jewelry, perfumes/cosmetiques, Tech/camera gadgets, watches and liquor/cigarettes) combined with military base. We weren't interested in the shopping so much as seeing the island. Therefore, we had opted for the "Rock" tour. Our very capable guide drove us around on the very narrow one-lane (he claimed some were two-lane - Hah!) roads.

On Europe point (southernmost exposed tip with 'gun' capacity for anything entering the Strait - the mountain behind us is Morocco):

The Straits of Gibraltar - 14 miles wide separating the African and European continents and the Atlantic/Mediterranean Seas:

We toured the St. Michael's caverns - limestone stalagmites and stalactites - incredibly beautiful and spooky all at the same time:
They actually hold concerts and events in the Cavern - the auditorium is quite large and a little damp!
Gibraltar is also known for it's monkeys - they are wild on the mountainous portion of the rock and number over 200. They're quite interested in getting a free meal from the tourists/tour guides:
This stately guy is contemplating the 2nd largest dry dock in Europe:
The number of ships and freighters within the protected port area was amazing. They anchor within the Gibraltar protection area tax-free (including fuel) until their next order comes in. Complete with beautiful weather:
From this point, you can see the Mediterranean on the right and the port of Gibraltar to the left. The runway is across the bottom of the pic with the entrance/exit road to the Rock crossing in the middle:
On the way back to the hotel - Costa del Sol, Gibraltar and Morroco/Tangiers in the background:
We enjoyed our return to Spain's southern coast:
Hope it won't be the last visit, but if so - we made some more great memories.
Next Up - more Berner Oberland! My dad (Susan's) is visiting and we got our chance to go up to the mountains - weather's been ick! - but it was a fabulous day so I have pic's to share.
Til then! Have a great day!


Mom E said...

Hmmm, passenger vehicles and pedestrians using the that's what I call multiple use! Eeek, that creature on my Gdaughter's head...Aunt S will want to come over for her turn.

Sammy said...

Wow. Those caverns look amazing. Is that monkey on R's head?

Olson Family said...

Yes - a monkey on her head. It got startled when she lifted her head too quickly and nearly scratched her eye. Had another "duh, mom" moment! Kind of like when they had a vulture walk across their legs at the bird show in Tenerife and ended up with little scratches. I think to myself "WHAT just happened and WHY do I let them do these things!"