Gibraltar (Wed., Mar. 28, 2012)

We left early on the bus again on Wed., Mar. 28.  Our destination today was the Rock of Gibraltar.  Paco told us that the town and area of Gibraltar covers about 3.5 square miles, and there are 30,000 inhabitants.  Gibraltar is a British colony now, though it used to be owned by the Moors after they conquered it in 711 AD.  They named it “the Mountain of Tariq,” after their commander, Tariq ibn Ziyad.

Paco said that the “Gibraltarians,” though British, are not allowed to vote in Britain, so they are really like 2nd class citizens.  The official language is English, yet he said that they actually speak a sort of “Span-English,” which is a combination of the two, many times within the same sentence.

Traditionally, the area had been known as a hiding place for pirates & smugglers, & he said that some smuggling is still going on today.

Paco also told us that there were a lot of stores in the city area where you could find almost anything.  Though he added, “You’re going to see a lot of things, but mostly you’re gonna see a lot of junk.”  Actually, there were lots & lots of jewelry, leather, liquor, crystal, & other types of stores.  There was good stuff & not so good, and the storekeepers accepted any kind of money (Euros, American dollars, British pounds, etc.).  You could get some good deals on “petrol” (25% cheaper) and cigarettes.  (Paco was always on the lookout for cheaper cartons of those).

Once we arrived at the area where we ditched the bus (after going through customs, since we were entering a British colony from Spain), we were handed over to another tour guide, Alan.  Alan told us more about the area & drove us partway up the mountain to St. Michael’s Cave.  The rock is limestone, so there are several caves–about 150.  This one was very interesting with many beautiful stalagmites & stalactites (see photos).

Another interesting thing about Gibraltar is that it is the home of lots of tailless Barbary Macaques–cute little monkeys that were brought there long ago.  I asked Alan why, & he quietly answered that he thought they had been a source of food, but he wasn’t sure & didn’t want to tell people about that.  He did tell us not to touch them so that we wouldn’t get any diseases.  The monkeys, however, had a tendency to jump onto people if they thought they might be carrying some food.

As Bill and I were shopping along the main street toward the end of our time on Gibraltar, we went into a leather shop, where I tried on a couple of jackets.  I really liked a red one with black trim, but we decided not to spend the money.  As soon as we made it back to the bus we saw Mary Grace (the woman who loves red) & Jim G.  And who do you think was wearing her new red leather coat with the black trim?  (It looked much cuter on her, though!)

On the way back to the hotel from Gibraltar, Paco took us to the city of Marbella, which is where a lot of rich people congregate.  The harbor was filled with yachts, and the parking areas were filled with expensive cars.  Some of the cars included Bentley’s, Peugeots, Aston-Martins, Mercedes, BMWs, Lexus, & Mini Coopers (my favorite).  Michelle Obama came here to visit approx. a year ago.  She also visited some of the same places that we did, such as Ronda and Granada.

Bill, Mary Grace and Jim

Bill and me

This little monkey must have thought poor Claudia was holding some food!