Friday, November 27, 1998

Gibraltar is just a few miles across the harbor from Algeciras, but a 40-minute ride by local bus. The rock itself seems out of place in the surrounding landscape, and my eyes had been drawn to it for the past two days. Finally I would have the chance to explore it.

I had hoped to find a British-style town where I could pub-crawl with fellow English speakers. Boy, was I wrong! There's definitely a strong British influence, but it seemed that most of the people in the city were Spaniards crossing over to take advantage of the colony's duty-free status. Perhaps it was due to the upcoming holidays, but the city was crowded, and I really didn't enjoy it very much.

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Gibraltar's shopping district

That's not to say it wasn't a good day. The place is fascinating. After crossing the border, you walk across the runway of the local airport. A stoplight indicates when it's safe to cross. I had to wait a few minutes, as a 747 had the right of way.

 

The top of the rock is the best part of Gibraltar. The cable car ride up is a bit unnerving, but kind of cool. The views of Africa and Costa del Sol were stunning, especially at sunset. I hiked the two miles across the ridge of the rock, stopping occasionally to play with the apes.

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The town of Gibraltar from the top of the rock

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Looking north along the rock's ridge

At the southern end of the ridge is St. Michael's caves. The caves have been used as a makeshift hospital during wartime, and one chamber has been modified into a theatre of sorts. They still use the chamber occasionally for theatrical performances. Organ music is piped in throughout the cave system, and red and green lights highlight the stalactites and stalagmites. Very impressive.

Exiting Gibraltar is much more difficult than entering. The line was long, and it seemed that nearly half the people were pulled aside because they were over their duty-free limit. Several people asked me (in Spanish) if I would carry out some of their stuff, since I wasn't smuggling anything myself. No one offered anything in return, so I declined.

Continue to day 12.

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