Since Morocco was pretty exhausting, we decided to go for broke and spend the next day in Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is weird in nearly every way. Here are a few of them:
- The best way in is to WALK across the border. It’s tiny so parking is terrible. There’s only one airstrip at the airport, so there aren’t many flights. That’s why we stayed in La Linea the night before. Walking across was kind of a joke as the guard barely looked at our passports.
- After crossing the border, you have to cross Gibraltar’s airport’s airstrip. Yes: you WALK ACROSS a LIVE AIRSTRIP. To make it weirder, you’re walking next to a road that also crosses the live airstrip. Never done that before.
- It’s a British protectorate, so as soon as you cross the border, you go from awesome Spanish food to awful British “food”. Fish & chips and pubs. I can’t understand how they get anyone to eat this stuff when jamon is so closeby.
- The Rock itself – worth reading about. Mainly I’ll say that it gave me an opportunity to describe something as a “limestone monolithic promontory” and that it’s a strategically important location for both commerce and military activity.
- You can see Africa, clearly, across the Strait.
- IT HAS MONKEYS.
Without further ado…
We took a tram up to the top of the rock. The walk through town was uneventful as it was the observed Boxing Day holiday and nearly everything was closed, and the tram ride was remarkable, but nowhere near as remarkable as the view from the top.
Looking back north, we could see the steep drop of the rock, the city/bay/port on our left, and the undeveloped eastern coast on our right. It seemed foggy, but we were actually in a cloud, just at the bottom of it, so it pushed up against the east side, and as it rolled past we could periodically see better and worse in both directions. This can’t be captured in a photograph, but I’ll never forget it. And here’s my attempt to shoot it anyway.
We then walked south along the top of the rock, through the nature preserve. The views of the water were genuinely breathtaking as the clouds rolled in and out, parted, obscured the view, revealed it…
…and eventually we reached the south tip of the rock.
We saw some monkeys pretty much right away. All morning I had been saying to Lefteris, “I WANT TO SEE THE MONKEYS!” and they did not disappoint. They were all over the place and were calm enough that I was able to get a lot of shots (more below; these are the ones we saw at the top).
The monkey on the left is all, “Ahhhh, I am sooooooo relaxed” and the one on the right is like “Are you listening to me?”
The monkey on the left is now thinking something like “GGGGgggggaaaaaahrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhh I wonder what’s on TV tonight” while the one on the right is clearly saying “I can’t take you anywhere” inside. See, they’re just like people.
Then we went to St. Michael’s Cave, a giant cavern inside the rock. Huge! Amazing! So big they have a stage and auditorium-style seating inside and sometimes hold concerts there because of the awesome acoustics! I should also mention that they recently discovered a couple of Neanderthal skulls inside the cave, indicating that people were using it around 40,000 years ago.
We continued hiking down and stopped at a newly-restored castle along the way. This shot of Lefteris was done with a pretty long shutter; he posed for the shot (holding still and creating a nice crisp image of himself), but moved away before the shutter closed (creating the light trails). I love the effect!
This also gave us an interesting view of the airstrip we had to walk across to get to the border. Notice how you can see the water on either side of the airstrip? This country is so tiny. Take a look at a map of Gibraltar to get an idea of how that’s situated. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t think of a better alternative.
When we finally made it, exhausted, to the bottom of the rock, we stopped at a restaurant for some truly horrible meals. (Not on purpose…)
That night we drove on, and slept at a Hotel Ibis somewhere between Cadiz and Sevilla…like you do on road trips.
Day 5: Sevilla