During this whole Brexit saga, we decided to visit Gibraltar, which although geographically borders Spain, is in fact a British Overseas Territory. The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians overwhelmingly rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in two referendums. Gibraltar governs its own affairs, though some powers, such as defence and foreign relations, remain the responsibility of the British government. It is indeed very British, with its High Street bustling with shops such as Marks and Spencer, Next and Debenhams, its pubs serving authentic Fish and Chips, and road names such as Winston Churchill Avenue, and tourists sprawling over red phone boxes and red post boxes to get the best photo opportunity.
We like to think that 'the early bird catches the worm' so getting up early and making our way from Costa Del Sol was priority. We left before the sun had started to rise and made the 1 hour 40 journey. We had read up on how best to enter Gibraltar and cross the border, it seemed confusing but in actual fact it was rather straight forward. Just do not take your own vehicle across the border! There is firstly no need for it in Gibraltar as there is a very good bus system, but also the queues to get across the border can be hours upon hours long! You want to follow signs for Algeciras then once close La Linea. You will not see any signs for Gibraltar until you see the actual Rock. We do not know if the Spanish have done this on purpose.
You should then see signs for parking, follow this (there is also signs for McDonalds which will help you know you're on the right track). The parking is secure and we parked for 5 hours for only €4. We left the car and walked across the border, you need your passport! There is immigration and you get your passport checked on the Spanish side then British side. Then your in. There was no queues to get in or out at 8am when we entered, but when we left in the afternoon- the queue snaked around and around the car park, across roundabouts and down the road. Unless its imperative you take your vehicle across- don't!
Upon entering Gibraltar it suddenly looked like Britain, the street signs, the green man at crossings, the red phone boxes, the bus which accepted either Euro's or Sterling (€3.40 day ticket) and the high rise blocks of flats. We jumped on the bus which whizzed through the airport- you actually drive/ walk across the runway! We jumped off at the Main Street and wandered down the street looking in at M & S and Next before reaching the cable car station which takes you to the Top of the Rock. We hadn't done our research, we thought we could get the bus up the top, but it turns out you either do a tour which only mini busses can wind up the steep roads or you can hike up which takes a few hours each way, or you take the cable car. So we booked return tickets for €18 each, which included an audio guide and free wifi. It was a such a thrill taking the carriage which holds around 20 persons up to the top in around 6 minutes, whilst looking out at the magnificent views, which we would experience more of shortly.
The Rock of Gibraltar, is a 426 meter high Jurassic limestone rock rising out of the sea, at the top we could see 3 countries (Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco) and 2 continents (Europe and Africa). The views were spectacular and there was a cruise ship in the harbour- the way I had arrived into Gibraltar the first time I had visited, back in 2003. Gibraltar also contains many tunnelled roads, most of which are still operated by the military and closed to the general public. We listened to our complimentary audio guide and heard tales of the place we stood upon and looked down at.
Along with the Rock, Gibraltar is also famous as it is home to 300 Barbary Apes, a type of tail-less monkey which are the only wild monkeys in Europe. As we arrived early in the morning, the care takers for the apes had provided them with breakfast, but the apes are known to get boisterous and will steal anything from ones person they believe to be food, or can just be rascals and nick sunglasses from your head!