Gibraltar: Stop....... Monkey Time!!!

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February 25th 2012
Published: March 1st 2012
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Our Journey Through Gibraltar

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Gibraltar was the main attraction for the trip to the Costa Del Sol. Unfortunately, flying into and staying in Gibraltar was too expensive of an option, so this is why we ended up near Malaga. Although we enjoyed exploring Malaga, we would have loved more time to explore the Rock of Gibraltar.

We opted to take a "shopping" tour from Torremuelle to Gibraltar, only because the transportation was faster and cheaper than taking the public bus. It wasn't really a tour, they just provided the transportation, and we were free to roam around Gibraltar for a limited amount of time. Unfortunately, the morning didn't start off as good as the rest of the day went. After doing a meticulously good job of hiding our passports in our room so that the spanish mafia wouldn't get them, extremely stupidly, we overlooked the fact that we needed to use them to get into Gibraltar. It was a very obvious and stupid mistake, we were just so excited to go that we didn't think about it! So when we walked down the hill to meet the tour bus at another hotel, I guess it was a good thing that the first thing the guide asked was "do you have your passports?" We looked at eachother and our hearts sank.... how stupid could we be? It's not like we're rookie travellers!!! So as we started to walk away from the bus, trying to figure out some other way to get to Gibraltar, the guide called us back. She told us if we could run back to our hotel and get to the next town before they did, we could get on the bus there. So we ran faster than we have ever gone, ten minutes uphill to the hotel to grab the passports and out of breath asked the reception to hire us a taxi (we didn't trust the train to be on time!). The taxi driver drove us to the next town over, Fuengirola, in about 15 minutes. We actually managed to arrive before the coach (although we had a hard time finding them, because they weren't there yet!), and we were successfully on our way to Gibraltar!

The road to Gibraltar was mostly along the coast, past many beach resorts. To our left was the Mediterranean and to our right were the mountains. An outdoor enthousiast's dream! The Rock of Gibraltar was easily visible from a distance - the surrounding area was relatively flat in comparison. Gibraltar is situated in a bay approximately 12 miles from Morocco. The mountains and land of Morocco is very easily seen from Gibraltar. It's a bit funny to think that such a very different world exists only 12 miles away. We thought about going to Tangiers for a day, but considering we were just in Egypt not too long ago, we weren't really interested in spending the time nor money on a one day that will be a very similar or worse experience.

To get to Gibraltar, you pass through the Spanish town, La Linea de La Conception. We got stopped at the British border first by the Spanish police that just wanted to see that we did have passports, then by the British police that just gave them a really quick glance. I guess there's not a whole lot of mischief that you could get up to in such an isolated area. After the border, you drive over Gibraltar's international airport runway. It's a neat experience because when a plane is landing, they hold the traffic and you get to watch. Unfortunately we didn't get to see that.

We only had a limited amount of time in Gibraltar (4 hours) unfortunately, so we just took a quick stroll through the town and headed to the tram that would take us to the top of the rock. The town itself is quite cute, but it's not as interesting to us right now since it's similar to other British towns. I can only imagine how busy it gets in the summer. Fortunately as it's not summer, we didn't have to endure any line ups, and we still got the beautiful and warm (but not hot) weather.

We took the tram up to the top of the rock, and were amazed at how spectacular the views were! You could see the mountains of Spain, the Mediterranean and the coastline of Morocco, which is so incredibly close! Of course, the biggest highlight of our time in Gibraltar is the monkeys (Barbary Macaques)!! The Rock of Gibraltar is home to the only wild monkeys in Europe. To me, they look a big like huge rodents, but they definiately have that cute monkey face. They're well protected by the Government- they are fed balanced diets, otherwise they
The First Monkey We MetThe First Monkey We MetThe First Monkey We Met

He actually came after us when we tried to switch lenses on the camera. He heard us rustling in the bag and thought we had food. We ended up having to retreat into the cafe in order to change the lens! He wouldn't let us do it outside!
would start to attack tourists. In fact, you can't eat outside at all while on the rock, and they are sensitive to rustling bags because they think food is in them. Mike was trying to get our lens out of the backpack and we had a paper bag in there, and one of the monkeys started running at Elysia. The monkeys also like to steal: we've heard they like to steal bags, cameras and sunglasses. Mike was worried that one would steal our camera when we had it on the automatic timer, and one tried to steal his water bottle. Later on, we found some more that were climbing on people. Elysia got in close to a guy that had a monkey on his back and the monkey climbed off of his shoulders onto hers! The monkey was sitting on her head for awhile chewing on a carrot. At first she was scared, but she quickly realized that the monkey just wanted to hang out! Later Mike bent down in front of one and it climbed up onto his back. (At least this experience made us less scared of the monkeys- at first we weren't really sure about them as there are signs around saying that they bite).

We saw another monkey climb on a girls back. He hung out for a while but then noticed the sunglasses on her head. In a flash they were gone and the monkey was running up the road! A nearby guide noticed and got the monkey's attention with a peanut. After a few intense minutes of negotiation, a trade was made - the peanut exchanged for the hostage sunglasses.

We spent much of our time watching the monkeys and enjoying the scenery. We realized at one point, that we were running out of time and needed to start heading back. We first decided to go down what are called the Mediterranean steps, which were steep old steps that went down the backside of the rock (in the wrong direction). They were put there by the as part of a communication system between two defense points on the rock. We took the steps despite running low on time, because the view was just so fantastic. We didn't know how long it would take us to hike down it, so we went somewhat fast, although we would have loved to stop and enjoy the surroundings more. This part made us feel like Frodo and Sam hiking through Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings). We finally reached the roadway and continued our way down to town. We can now say that we have hiked the Rock of Gibraltar! We returned just in time to grab some smoothies and head back to the bus. A wonderfully beautiful day!! We would go back there in a heartbeat, if only to play with the monkeys and hike the Mediterranean steps. Unfortunately we missed out on seeing some of the tunnels that were used during world war 2, but it was such a beautiful day, we just wanted to enjoy the scenery.

That evening, we went over to the beach in the town of Benalmadena and just walked along their boardwalk, and returned to make dinner in our condo. When we got back to the condo we realized that the sun took a toll on us... first sun burns of the year!

Additional photos below
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Oblivious TouristsOblivious Tourists
Oblivious Tourists

That's the same monkey that came after us for our camera lens. He made us laugh because he stood on the top of the stairs like this waiting for people to come up... they didn't notice him until after they got to the top (in fact, these tourists didn't notice until a few seconds after I took this picture of them!)
Eatin' a CarrotEatin' a Carrot
Eatin' a Carrot

He ended up dropping it in her hair and it fell to the ground without him noticing it. So, he started to dig through Elysia's hair looking for it! Apparently, he pulls pretty hard!

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