Books, photos, films or tales are some of the many ways we travel, explore and experience new places. Gibraltar is one of those places that made it on to my bucket list due to such an encounter as I mentioned above, but for me this happened way back in primary school.
Here’s a scenario, on the one hand; if your encounter with the British colony of Gibraltar has been one of history books you may know that it is "one of the most densely fortified and fought-over places in Europe" and has been inhabited by phoenicians, carthaginians, romans, visigoths, moors and the British (ceded in perpetuity by Spain under the treaty of Utrecht to the British). And if on the other hand your meeting point with the crown colony is through an atlas, map or in geography class then you may know that Gibraltar is a small peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea with the strait of Gibraltar separating it from the African continent, specifically Morocco, being only 24km away.
However, if your rendezvous with Gibraltar was through travel, then you either walked in, drove in, cycled in, biked in, shipped in or flew and landed via what I consider to be the most nerve wrecking airstrip I’ve ever seen, cos it runs through the main road that enters Gibraltar and with sea on either ends of the airstrip (my brain started conjuring images of the plane missing the you know what).
Well, if you haven’t been there yet no worries for I am about to share my impressions with you, but first, let me tell you about my first encounter with Gibraltar.
In primary school I used to hear this pick-up line a lot "babe, let me be your rock of Gibraltar!"
And I always thought, 'jeez, how cheesy."
Well, I finally got to see the rock of Gibraltar and in hindsight, if that poor cheesy boy could actually morph into the Rock of Gibraltar then that would have been seriously romantic. Yes I said it, in hindsight this pick-up line was kinda romantic🙈
Gibraltar is picturesque and despite being located in Spain it's thoroughly British, well in my humble opinion that is. Why? Well picture this, a police officer controlling traffic is wearing a ‘bobby on the beat’ (a British police helmet also known as a ‘custodian helmet’), all the road signs are English, the red phone booth, the red double decker bus, English road names, a Morrisons, English breakfast and prices in pounds (sterling) and the border control officer chose to respond to my 'Hola' with a 'hello'. The only thing that was off, and I mean totally off is that they still drive on the right side and not on the left.
What does Gibraltar have to offer?
Well, all I can tell you is; there's plenty to do, which I unfortunately didn't have time to do. But, however I found out about it from locals and reading a couple of guides, such as; going to the beach, visiting St Michael's Cave and other less know caves, going to various old WW2 air raid shelters , and my favourite; snapping shots of the mosque at Europa Point. One can also take the cable car up the rock for some great panoramic views. The rock also offers several hikes through the nature reserve.
What I did?
I walked on the beach and then went for breakfast, a full English breakfast to be exact, at the light house. From here you can see Morocco (I'm jumping with glee as I write this. The excitement of seeing home, AFRICA, was real). From there I took a cable car up the rock where I came face to face with one of the famous Gibraltar Tailless Monkeys. These guys are relaxed. But don't be fooled cos if you have anything considered tasty by them, they have absolutely no chill and will grab your bag and help themselves to any food in there. I witnessed three incidents of grab and eat.
Gibraltar is worth a visit whether for a day trip or a few nights’ stay on ‘the rock’, so, if you are holidaying in Costa del Sol I recommend this small slice of Britain with a glass of sangria. I can’t stress enough that the views from the 426m rock are breathtaking and one can indulge in them even longer by hiking up or down hill. There is plenty to see and do for everyone! Make sure you plan ahead though, this way you can enjoy and make the most of your stay.
1. Fuel is cheap in Gibraltar so if you are driving, fuel up on your way out.
2. Parking is hard to find and pay for parking is expensive so do your research and figure out where to find free parking. Alternatively use public transport and park your car at a park house on the Spanish side of the border.
3. Shop for all your favourite British products, in fact stock up on them. I did (stocked up on my favourite Trebor Extra Strong Mints!)