It is now Sunday, May 6, and I’m writing this from the comfort of my couch at home near Portland, Oregon. I’m still feeling tired and jet-lagged from 26 hours of travel between Sevilla and Portland, but I wanted to finish this write-up on our amazing day trip to Gibraltar while the details were still fresh in my mind.
Very out of character for us during our trip thus far, Mallory and I were up and out of the apartment well before 11am on Tuesday to make the 2+ hour drive to the Rock of Gibraltar. After eating a hearty breakfast of fruit salad, greek yogurt, eggs with manchego cheese, jamon, and loads of coffee we set off on the long drive to the very Southern tip of Spain.
As we drove through the Spanish countryside, we were again blown away by how beautiful it was. The natural beauty of the green hills and wide-open meadows were enhanced by hundreds and hundreds of graceful white windmills, gracefully and quietly performing their honorable job of generating clean power for the citizens. I didn’t get any photos, unfortunately, but Mallory did capture a short video of the windmills, here.
Our first peek at the Rock of Gibraltar came a full 30 minutes before we arrived at our destination, and every now and then we would receive another peek at it – taunting us as we wound along the twisting coastal highway. But, soon enough, we rolled into La Linea, the Spanish town just across the border from Gibraltar, and parked the car. This turned out to be an incredibly smart move, as the backup of traffic to cross into Gibraltar had to be at least a mile long.
Besides, by walking across the border to Gibraltar, you also get to walk across the runway of the Gibraltar airport – how many people ever get to do that?
Crossing from Spain into Gibraltar (which is an overseas territory of Great Britain) we had to show our passports, but disappointedly did not receive a stamp, only a wave-through.
It was a good 15-20 minutes walk from the “frontier” before we reached Casemates Square, an overly commercialized circus of mediocre fish-and-chips shops and tacky souvenirs. However, we were famished from our trip, so we plopped down at a free table on the square and split an order of fish and chips which we washed down with a couple of small beers. Definitely nowhere near the best meal we’ve had during our travels, but it gave us the necessary energy to walk up Main street to the other end of Gibraltar to catch the cable car to the top of the rock. It was not a fun walk at all, unless you count watching thousands of sunburned and overweight tourists buying a bunch of crap they don’t need as an interesting anthropological study. Also, Mallory and I seemed to be the only people headed towards a destination, and thus exerted a lot of energy swerving around large groups of people ambling aimlessly side-by-side in the middle of a crowded pedestrian street.
We finally arrived at the cable car station and bought our tickets to the top. Although I was anticipating the experience would be great, I was not fully prepared for how amazing it turned out to be.
After a couple of hours of admiring all the views but mostly spending way too much time ogling the adorable monkeys, we took the cable car down and had an enjoyable conversation with a couple of retired British gentlemen who looked to be in their 70’s, who had stopped in Gibraltar as part of a 6 week holiday trip they were on. One of the men had last been in Gibraltar in the late 1960’s, and was saddened by all of the commercialization. I could see where that would be depressing, but at least the primary reasons for coming to Gibraltar – the “apes” and the incredible 360-degree views – remain unchanged.
We made our way back down Main street, crossed back over the runway (after a brief stop for a couple of small military plane exercises), and into La Linea. We popped into McDonald’s for quick refreshment in the form of chocolate sundaes, and then made the long trek back to the car and drove back home. It was an exhausting 4+ hours of driving and lots of walking crammed into one day, but it was an experience I will never forget, and one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.