Gibraltar, Yes That Gibraltar

Gibraltar fun facts
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 2.6 sq mi and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 32,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.

In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, the Strait of Gibraltar, which is only 8.9 mi wide at this naval choke point. It remains strategically important, with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait. Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services and cargo ship refuelling.

The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations because Spain asserts a claim to the territory. Gibraltarians rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty in a 1967 referendum and, in a 2002 referendum, the idea of shared sovereignty was also rejected.

OK, sounds like an interesting place to visit.

We're up early at our hotel, the Hotel Alay in Benalmádena, Málaga. The staff open the breakfast buffet early for us as we have a bit of a drive south to Gibraltar. Before we get on the bus, we all check to make sure we have our passports. We'll be leaving Spain and entering a British territory so we'll need passports and British pounds not Euros for currency.

The drive is long but we're treated to a couple of rainbows.

As we leave the highway, The Rock comes into view.

We meet our local guide and bus driver-there are special tour operators on the island to take you up to the nature reserve. Everyone is excited to see the "monkeys" but they're not monkeys they are actually Barbary macaques.

First we drive around to get acquainted with the area and it's naval history.

Our first stop for photos is the Europa Point Lighthouse, also known as the Trinity Lighthouse at Europa Point and the Victoria Tower.

The views on this clear day are spectacular.
You can see Africa and a great view of the backside of The Rock.

Next we drive through some of the many tunnels carved out of The Rock over the years arriving at St. Michael's Caves after some pretty narrow, twisty turning roads.

As we exit the caves, we are greeted by the "monkeys."
Our guide is a local and says it's OK for him to feed the macaques. He gives them peanuts-some of the tourists are feeding them french fries.

Food and bags – macaques associate bags with food. One of our fellow travelers found this out the hard way as a macaque grabbed his backpack and tried to steal it to get at his candy bar. Jason and the macaque ended the tug-of-war amicably.

We finish our tour and head to The Landing's for a proper British lunch of Fish and Chips. It's right along the marina and a great spot for photos.

After that VERY filling lunch. Alex walks us all back to town. We have some free time to explore before we have to head back to Costa del Sol.

Jay and I explore some of the streets off the main shopping avenue.

You can tell you're not in Spain anymore.

We stop at one of the many British pubs The Horseshoe. The owner greets us and challenges us to name a state in the US and he'll name the capital. He got them all, even the tricky ones. He was a former teacher in Morocco who moved to Gibraltar make a living.

We meet up with our crew and walk to the bus park. We drive across the air strip to leave Gibraltar. Then we have to exit the bus and walk across the border. The bus will meet us on the other side.

We're back on the bus for our long drive back to Benalmádena, Málaga. We say goodbye to The Rock. It was a great day trip (optional excursion offered by Go Ahead Tours)

We arrive late in the afternoon to our hotel and still have some great light for photos and a walk along the beach and around the marina.

Jay and I stop at a local market and buy some cheese, beer, bread and guacamole for a carpet picnic and cocktails on our balcony. We watch the light fade on another day in Spain.

Tomorrow we head to Granada and the Alhambra.

More photos of Gibraltar:

More photos from our adventure:

Nancy Nutile-McMenemy is an Upper Valley freelance photographer and writer who loves to attend concerts and local events in and around Weathersfield and the Upper Valley.

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