A brief sojourn in Gibraltar

I came to Gibraltar straight from carnival in Cadiz, having only had an hour of shut eye on the coach and still feeling worse for wear. I was much too early for my flight (coaches were infrequent on carnival Sunday) and I had several hours to kill.

From the coach station you have to walk across the border and then the airport runway which is a spooky experience.

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I checked my suitcase into the airport’s left luggage room and went for a look around. It was quite weird being somewhere that looked like England but with blue skies and palm trees everywhere.

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First stop was for a life-saving full English breakfast at The Lord Nelson in Casemates Square. It wasn’t great (C+) but it was just what I needed after a night of partying.

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I’d been told that the taxi drivers will act as tour guides and show you around the rock but it was a Sunday and I wasn’t really in the mood for, or capable of, human interaction so I decided to go for a walk by myself instead.

I walked through what is known as ‘The Town’ which was all very little England. I quite liked the Art Deco fire station but that was about it in terms of architecture for me.

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Along Reclamation Road there were a series of fortified bastions which are now unused, although some of the old guns have been left for the tourists to see.

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Lord Nelson features heavily as you’d imagine. Cape Trafalgar, scene of his most famous victory, is halfway between Cadiz and Gibraltar, near Barbate.

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Across the bay is Algeciras, a port city built by Franco to compete with Gibraltar. I’d been a couple of years before but wasn’t too impressed (post here). The bay was full of cargo ships so business must be good for both ports.

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The rock towered above me during the whole walk. I imagined it to be hollowed out and full of tunnels that had been built for defensive purposes. It even had a waterfall coming out of it although where the water came from I have no idea.

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Eventually I got to Punta de Europa, the southern tip of the rock. It was a hazy day but you could just make out the coast of Africa across the straits.

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Obviously this is a good place to put a big gun if you want to control access to the Mediterranean.

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The name Gibraltar is dervied from the Arabic name Jabal Ṭāriq (جبل طارق), meaning “Mountain of Tariq”. This is the spot where the Moors first landed to begin their invasion of the Iberian peninsula. The Mosque of the Two Holy Custodians marks this significant place.

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My original plan was to try to circle the rock on foot but it soon became apparent that this was not possible as the roads were narrow, twisting and without pavements. I did persevere but eventually the road disappeared into a tunnel and I had no choice but to retrace my steps.

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And that was my brief experience of Gibraltar, a very historic but very strange place. I left plenty to see and do next time I visit, hopefully I’ll be in better condition to appreciate it!

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