Gibraltar is a weird place. The first time we crossed the border and were standing on Main Street, I couldn’t decide if I was in awe or if I totally hated it.
We’ve been travelling for almost three months now and Gibraltar has been the biggest culture shock yet. It’s like you’ve been transported straight back to England. I know that may sound a bit daft considering Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so, well… “British”. The pedestrian crossings, letter boxes, Red Lion pub, road signs, pigeons, currency, shops, fish & chips and sausage & mash on every corner and the people… it’s all quintessentially English. Even the weather played its part at times.
The streets are quaint with a typical Spanish finesse of colourful buildings, painted shuttered windows and plump orange trees that line the path ways but typically like England there is building work, scaffolding and cranes everywhere blocking the way and detracting from these beautiful streets and buildings.
We arrived late afternoon and once we got parked up our first pit stop was for some food shopping. Now, let me just say, I have never been so excited to go to Morrisons in my entire life. Fifty quid later and I’ve basically bought a six month supply of dry shampoo, baked beans and crumpets, much to Eamo’s horror. Man, I miss crumpets though, and the whole dry shampoo craze doesn’t appear to have found France and Spain yet so it’s nigh on impossible to get your hands on, and when you’re mooching through Europe in a van, you most certainly need a good supply of Batiste.
The cable cars were out of action the day we wanted to see the monkeys so we decided to walk up to the Upper Rock nature reserve. It might not be far but it’s a bit of a hike up hill for sure – Eamo striding along no bother whilst I’m always ten steps behind, struggling.
At the Upper Rock nature reserve we headed for the Mediterranean Steps path which would take us almost to the summit of the Rock. This is possibly the most beautiful nature trail in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and by far the hardest path to take. After an hour in, sweat drenched, sore knee and mildly dehydrated from clambering up and down dodgy rocky steps which are crumbling away, we literally reached a wall (that was put up in the Second World War) and couldn’t go any further. Much to our dismay, we turned around and headed back the way we came only to be told by the security guard at the main gate to the reserve that we missed the turning! The panoramic views along the way certainly made the impromptu afternoon workout worth it though.
Stuff the view from the top – we went to find the monkeys instead. These fury little guys are Gibraltar’s most popular tourist attraction by far – Eamo got a little too cocky though in monkey territory and decided to tuck in to his lunch. Error! One bite of his sandwich and a monkey, the size of a chubby 5-year-old, was on his back reaching for the rest. That was the last time Eamo saw his lunch that day!
We did our own thing the next day. Eamo went off exploring again (he was adamant to reach the summit of the Rock – me, not so much) and I headed for another of Gibraltar’s big attractions; the VAT free shops.
There’s not exactly many places to park up for the night in Gibraltar but there’s a great little spot just before the border in the Marina which is a popular stopover for Moho’s of all shapes and sizes. It’s €12 per 24 hours and you get a great view of the Rock. The toilets are decidedly gross and there’s no showers, washing up stations or hook up but that’s what your van’s for right? Wi-Fi is in short supply but there is fresh water and a grey and black waste dump. This is a great little spot to park up for a few days – the views are pretty awesome, it’s completely safe and it’s a fifteen minute walk across the border into the weird and wonderful world of Gibraltar.
Distance travelled so far: 2,998 km
Days away: 86