Me and the Strait!
You can just barely see that Africa is off to the left, and Spain is behind me!
So yesterday we took our first day trip outside of Càdiz. We went to Gibraltar! It is about 3 hours away from here by bus and the bus actually drops you off in the small town of La Línea de Concepción because the buses cannot cross into Gibraltar because it is a territory of the UK. So after the bus dropped us off, we had about a 5 minute walk over to the boarder station to cross into Gibraltar. Gibraltar has an area of only 6 square kilometers, but it has 30,000 inhabitants. Since Gibraltar is completely surrounded by Spain I guess we figured that everyone there would still speak Spanish…nope! All signs, menus, and people were definitely English. For example, when we went to get lunch we asked for tap water. “Uh, actually our tap water is a bit dodgy; can I get you anything else?” I got a huge smile on my face! “A bit dodgy,” hahahaha! How great.
They also use pounds there, but accept euros, although it’s more expensive if you use euros. Gibraltar actually has their own “Gibraltar Pounds” but we never got to see any! It was really an interesting place.
First glimpse of Gibrlatar
Entering from La Linea we could see Gibraltar
The architecture was definitely Spanish and Arab influenced, however there were red telephone booths, WC’s, and their fire trucks said “Fire Brigade” on them. Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, it is beautiful and sunny most of the year and it is surrounded by the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s really sort of a melting pot of cultures…I wonder if Gibraltarians ever have an identity crisis?
We got to take the cable car up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar and see all of the area as well as the famous monkeys and…AFRICA!! It was pretty hazy out though so it wasn’t exactly clear, but we got a pretty good glimpse of it. Ha, they don’t have signs or anything that say “you are now looking at Africa,” or a compass or anything so we just had to keep guessing. “Do you think that’s Africa?”
“I don’t know! Maybe that’s Africa.”
“Wait I think I see something over there, wait, no that’s Spain.”
Finally we used these little hand-held tour things that tell you the history of Gibraltar and one explained where to stand to see Africa, which was nearly the only helpful
British, Gibraltar and European Union flags.
thing it did. Ha, we turned it on and it started telling us about all these other things we could do on the Rock, and it was all only 10 pounds! Apparently everything there costs 10 pounds...unless they catch you feeding the apes, that’s 500 pounds. The little electronic guide would tell a bit of history (did you know Gibraltar has over 50km of tunnels within it? That’s more kilometers of tunnels than they have roads!) and then say, “If you would like to go visit the famous tunnels you can walk down and sign up for a guided tour, only 10 pounds.” Then a little more history, then, “if you find that you need refreshments you can buy them at the “Top of the Rock” café located on the South Terrace. Next to the café is also our Gibraltar souvenir shop.” Then a bit more history (did you know Gibraltar had special cannon’s made to protect it? They were never fired in anger though) with some very impressive sound effects, including a vivid and loud demonstration of dolphin calls. Did you know you can go take a tour on a boat around Gibraltar to see dolphins? Only 10 pounds!
Just kidding, that one is like 50 pounds. It kinda reminded me of when Conor does roller derby. A bit of action, then a quick advertisement where he can slip it in, “Want to take Street Certified on a date? Go get me a sandwhich from Jimmy Johns, Freaky Fast subs.” Haha! That’s one of my favorites!
In all honesty though it was a really cool day trip. We had just about the perfect amount of time there. We walked all around the top of the Rock of Gibraltar and got to see all the apes. The one thing we wanted to know was how they got there, our handy-dandy electronic guide was very helpful, “No one actually knows how the apes got here.” Well, that clears that up. The apes have been known to live in Morocco though, and they are a species that was thought to have gone extinct in the last ice age, and they are the only non-human primates that live in Europe. There are roughly 200 apes on Gibraltar and only about 5000 of this species left in the world!
They are very tame, not tame enough to touch, at least not tame enough
This is the Scotsman that I met that was telling me about his cruise around Europe!
for me to touch, and they aren’t afraid of people at all. The people who work on the rock do their best to keep the monkeys out of inhabited areas with “varying success” as our electronic guide told us. They just wander around doing whatever they please. Although they know that people often come with food. We saw one devouring a cookie package as we were leaving. You can eat in the restaurant but you aren’t allowed to take any food out on the terraces. The gift shop also puts everything in paper and plastic bags, but the monkeys associate paper/plastic bags with food. So they give you this bag and then they ask if you have a bigger bag to hide it in. Thank goodness two of the girls in our group had big purses!
I really think Gibraltar is a must see! It is so, so neat! It has a long and interesting history. We were all really happy with the trip and it went off without a hitch, luckily! Except they didn’t stamp our passports!! We really wanted a stamp so as we were leaving we tried to ask for one, “Sorry we can’t right now.”
“Can I just cross the street and go into the building and get one.”
“Is it closed?”
“So why can’t I just go ask for one?”
“I’m sorry we can’t give you one.”
This conversation with the very vague Gibraltarian/British man was going nowhere. Now I have to take my Dad there when my parents come because I want a passport stamp!!
On our way home I got to sit by Hayley on the bus and I got a chance to talk to her about the Market to Market race and why I had asked her if she wanted to run with me. Turns out Hayley hasn’t run in nearly 4 or 5 months because running is what she and her brother, Brandon, used to do together. The summer before he passed away they ran together nearly every day. Like Kyle, he was also only 17.
Hayley said she started running again two days ago because she really wants to be able to complete the whole hour with me. She hopes that maybe this will be the opportunity to get back into running. The one year anniversary of Brandon’s death is tomorrow. So, Hayley will run my
race with me for Kyle, and tomorrow Jerica and I will be with her when she lights a candle in honor of Brandon’s memory.
The ride home was really good. I got to hear stories about Brandon and she liked hearing about Kyle’s witty-ness. It was good to see her smiling about her brother, even though I know she is still struggling with it. She is an incredibly strong person and I’m glad she is here.
After we got back to Càdiz as we were walking home we ran into a church procession. They were crowning a new Virgin last night and we ran right into the parade! Lots of people in the streets, women in traditional Spanish headdresses and a giant “float” thing with the Virgin on it that had to be carried by people, that thing must have weighed like 500 pounds!!
Right now I am watching “Friends” in Spanish as I write this, and I’m about to go Skype Heather, how appropriate!! Hahaha!
I suppose that’s all for now! :)
Love you all!
P.S. - CLEMSON BEAT AUBURN!!??!!?? Way to go Clemson Tigers, way to go!
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