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Published: December 12th 2006
The bus ride from Málaga only took a couple hours, and I was in Marbella before noon. I hiked down the hill from the bus station into the center, but I was having a hard time finding the tourist office. So, I stopped into a net cafe and looked at a map and then set off to find it. It didn't take long, and they directed me to the local hostel, which I would have walked right by had I just followed the road from the station instead of the signs for the center.
I checked in to the institutional hostel (run by the government, just like the one in Málaga) and noticed they had a pool. In fact, it was a really nice pool with a view of the ocean in the distance. I checked at reception and they told me it was closed. The woman said something about there being too much chlorine, but I suspect they just close it down in the off season, although I'm not sure why they leave it full of water.
Since it was such a fantastic day and I couldn't use the pool, I headed for the beach. It took about
View from near the bus station looking towards the mountains behind Marbella
15 minutes to get there, and I was pretty disappointed. Marbella is a huge resort town, especially for the rich and famous, yet the beach sucked. The sand was shit, and the water was flat as a pancake. I understand some of the appeal of the place -- the weather is great, the location is beautiful, but I'm sure there are better places with nicer beaches along the coast.
I jumped in the water, which wasn't too cold and swam around a bit, but it just wasn't much fun without any waves. Afterwards I headed back to the hostel and discovered that it was still basically empty. There wasn't a kitchen, so I went to the store and grabbed some stuff to make a sandwich (boring!) before sitting down to watch Seville play a Swiss soccer team. The game was good, and I went to bed after it ended since the place was dead and I was still trying to get over a cold.
The next morning I woke up with one of my eyes stuck shut. Wonderful. I didn't feel particularly bad, but the eye was red and sensitive to light. I have no idea what caused
At least they're clean...
it for sure, but I suspect the swim in the Med was probably a factor. The beach seemed a bit dodgy...
I got breakfast and talked with 60 year old guy from Edinburgh. He's retired now, and traveling extensively around the world. Although, from talking to him, I think he wishes he did it when he was my age. After breakfast I headed to the bus station to get a bus to Gibraltar. The bus for La Línea (just across the border) wasn't due to leave until 11:30 and they told me to wait until 11:15 to get a ticket. That meant that I got to sit around in the waiting area avoiding eye contact with the two resident crazies. Bus stations are so much more interesting than train stations!
The bus left more or less on time, and it was packed with English tourists. Fun. The ride only took a couple hours though, so it wasn't so bad. We pulled in to the station and the weather was pretty threatening, unfortunately. I started heading towards the border on foot (it's close by, you just follow the other tourists) and met a girl from Ireland named Rachel. We
Cute little bugger
got to the checkpoint, and walked right by the customs booth before the guy yelled at us and told us to come back. Oops, hehe. He didn't even really look at our passports before waving us through (no stamp either, unfortunately). Not exactly a high security border crossing.
We caught a bus just outside the checkpoint that took us across the airport's runway, and into the center of town. Stepping off the bus was like stepping out of the tube in London. Everything was so...English. Little kids running around in school uniforms. Marks and Spencer. English accents. And finally, the police -- genuine bobbies.
I was planning to stay at the hostel in Gibraltar, but when I got into the center I decided there really wasn't a point, and so Rachel and I set off for the main attraction -- the rock. Of course this meant I'd be carrying my bags the entire time, but oh well. We paid for the cable car and took it (bags and all) to the top. I knew there were monkeys up there, but I wasn't prepared for them to be crawling all over the place. There were all sorts: big mean
ugly ones, cute babies, and everything in between. They definitely seem to have free reign over the station at the top of the cable car.
They warned us that the monkeys would try to snatch plastic bags, but I wasn't taking any chances with my other two bags either. Not that I really think they could have hauled off the big one, but still. We got the audio guide and wandered around for an hour or so listening to the history and enjoying the views. The weather wasn't cooperating, unfortunately, so it wasn't nearly as nice as it could have been. Oh well, at least it didn't rain.
After we came down, we stopped and ate some chicken tikka at a little shop that was quite good (can't find that in Spain!) I also managed to trade my 5 pound Bank of England note for a Gibraltar one, which made for a nice souvenier. It was getting late, and we decided to walk back to the border instead of taking the bus. The coolest part about the walk is where you have to cross the runway. Seriously. This is an active military base, and the only way to
the other side is across the runway. You kind of look left, then right, then repeat while looking upward! There were great signs at the start too, I thought just walking across was a highlight of Gibraltar.
Spanish customs was even more lenient than their British counterparts. I just waved my passport at them and they let me through. They were far more interested in the tour bus that had just pulled up full of pensioners and their bags of cigarettes and alcohol (duty free in Gibraltar). We walked back to the station and caught the bus back to Marbella.
I really wasn't feeling great, and so I said goodbye to Rachel and headed to the hostel to get some sleep after grabbing a quick dinner.
My last day in Marbella was spent resting and trying to recouperate. I spent some time on the internet and finally found a better grocery store, but that was about it. I also failed to find a kebab place, which was really annoying since I had a craving.
I bet Marbella is a bit more appealing in the summer when there are people around and you can use the pool
He licked the wrapper completely clean after someone dropped it.
and whatnot, but in November it was pretty lame.
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