Testing My Limits: Day Trip to Gibraltar

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.

The Rock as seen from La Linea.

Backup at the border.

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?

Runway model.

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.

Gibraltar town and La Linea.

Looking South, you can see the continent of Africa in the distance.

Two of the Rock’s furry residents.

The cable car ferries visitors to and from the top of the Rock.

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.

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11 responses to “Testing My Limits: Day Trip to Gibraltar

  1. Funny how the lack of passport stamps still gets a mention since the introduction of the EU all those years! Sounds like a great day out!

    • Well of course I know about the EU, but I could swear I’ve gotten passport stamps before when travelling in between countries in Europe. It could have been only on departure back to the U.S., though, I can’t remember.

  2. Glad you enjoyed your trip up to the top of the Rock. The apes are monkeys (Barbary Macaques) and Gib is actually a British Overseas Territory. Great Britain is England, Scotland and Wales.

    Cafe Solo in Casemates is meant to be good. Bit late to tell you that though!

    • Right. I do believe I said monkeys (I think – maybe apes once in quotations) even though people commonly refer to them as the “Gibraltar Apes”. Will make the correction on British Overseas Territory – thanks!

      • You did say both. And I know they are known colloquially as apes. I just dislike innacuracy, I should probably start a campaign to get them called ‘The Barbary Macaques of Gibraltar’. The Register Office (I think that’s where J&YO were married) really is literally off Main Street so a shame you didn’t find it. Nice building.

        BotR is right, there is Line Wall down one side of Main Street (the Register Office is there behind the Convent) and Town Range/Engineer’s Lane on the other side, both run parallel to Main Street.

        Gib is one of those strange places where the more time you spend there, the more there is to see and enjoy.

        Do let us know if you want to come again so we can advise on where to go and what to do.

      • >>>You did say both. And I know they are known colloquially as apes. I just dislike innacuracy, I should probably start a campaign to get them called ‘The Barbary Macaques of Gibraltar’. The Register Office (I think that’s where J&YO were married) really is literally off Main Street so a shame you didn’t find it. Nice building.<<<

        Fair enough. I figured I was covering myself with "apes" vs. apes but can see where it would irritate a detail-oriented person, something I most admittedly am not! 🙂

        I would love to revisit Gibraltar when I have more time, am better informed about what to seek out (and what to avoid), and am not completely worn out from back-to-back driving days in an unfamiliar car in an unfamilar country. I tend to NOT research much about the places I visit ahead of time, because I kind of like to just show up and let things happen. However, in a highly touristed place like Gibraltar, this may not be the best strategy.

    • Finally someone who has cleared up the ape / monkey issue! A campaign to changes the road signs would be signed by me! It really is misleading!

  3. Main Street drives me absolutely barking and you have the sunburned tourists down to a ‘T’. The views are incredible from the Rock and if you ever visit again, there is a ‘road’ (cars do go down there, but it is mostly just mopeds) either side of main Street that leads down to the cable car and is always virtually empty of people, it also shows the old Gibraltar as opposed to all the fat burnt ‘Brit’s Abroad! 😉

    • Hi! Yes, we did step off Main Street for a bit as we were looking for John & Yoko’s wedding site (never did find it, we had a crappy map) and it was MUCH quieter than Main Street. However, we didn’t have a lot of time and so decided to stick to what we knew. I will definitely keep it in mind, as I think my husband may want to visit there some day after seeing my photos!

      • We got married at the registry office, and I think they got hitched there too! You would have walked past the turning! If you ever come back with your husband, email me and I will send you a good map! Also the ape / monkey thing is very confusing I think, the signs all say Apes, and I tend to call them monkeys or apes depending on who I am talking to! Either way they are cute until they steal your ice-cream / bag / sunglasses!

  4. Pingback: A One Night Fling With Sevilla | Life's Little Bits

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