Friday, 9 March 2007

GIBRALTAR - Warm Beer & Barbary Apes

Anybody who regularly stays on the Costa del Sol, will have called in to Gibraltar. Passing through the border control reveals nothing as the air field has to be crossed before you reach the rock and anything recognisably British. Walking or driving across an airport run way is unusual to say the least.

April 2004
My first visit to Gibraltar, as part of my first visit to southern Spain. Driving through the border control was painless. Once across the run way, the first tell tale signs of being a corner of Britain are the UK traffic signals, only out of place because they are on the right hand side of the road still. Gibraltar is a very compact lump of rock with the town and port clinging to the western side. We drove the length of the island, to the most southern point, a pleasant viewing area overlooking the Straight with Morocco visible in the haze. Adjacent to this view point, was the 'Last Shop in Europe'. It was closed...
Returning back the way we had come, we parked at the foot of the cable car and boarded for the ascent to the top of the rock. The view from the glass walled gondola was fabulous. Arriving at the top, revealed a slightly desolate and abandoned outpost; Former military buildings, now relocated to other parts of the hill top. The ruins were not quite uninhabited - the Barbary Apes have found a use for them, mainly sunbathing. Quite unperturbed by human presence, it is thought that they were left behind when Gibraltar was dragged away from Africa with the rest of Europe. The 'Top of the Rock Restaurant' could have been a grand enterprise. It turned out to be a bit of a greasy spoon.
After a brief visit to an off-license to take advantage of the ridiculously cheap prices, we joined the farce that is the Spanish border control. Boots and bonnets inspected on every car. A sign erected by the Gibraltan authorities advises that is just the Spanish being funny as they want Gibraltar back.

January 2005
Another flying visit to take advantage of the cheap spirits and cigarettes. This time we walk in leaving our car at La Linea, the border town. The run way beckons again, a good leg stretch before reaching the town. Arriving on foot means that you get to see the old town gates and defences that the roads circumvent. The fortifications now play host to a variety of bars, shops and arts and crafts centres. We enjoy a beer in the sun before carrying on through the town, looking in the shops for bargains. We visit Pickwick's Pub for a pint of warm beer served from a sticky bar top. It feels great sat in the sunshine though.
The stroll back across the border marked the end of a busy two day trip, away from our main holiday in Fuenguirola.

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