The Apes of Gibraltar

I’d love to join the Travelers’ Century Club one day and visiting obscure places like Gibraltar should help with that goal. This time though, we visited Gibraltar as a means of getting to Morocco. When I booked the trip last year, I used airline miles and I realized that getting to Northern Africa on miles is substantially more “expensive” than getting to Europe. And thus, we picked the point in Europe closest to Tangier as our flight’s destination.

British Airways LHR-GIB in Club Europe. Yummy airplane food and excellent service.

British Airways LHR-GIB in Club Europe. Yummy airplane food and excellent service.

Gibraltar is a British territory at the southern tip of Spain. Its people enjoy many of the benefits of being British and the locals despise any attempt of the Spanish to take over control. We only had a few hours to spend in this city and so we hired a private taxi for £55. The taxi company is a monopoly and even though the drivers all know the schedules of the 4 or so flights a day, they don’t seem to care too much about airport business. There was a long line of people waiting for taxis; luckily we were at the beginning of the line because barely any taxis came.

The buildings in the back are in Spain. The road from Spain crosses the Gibraltar Airport runway. Traffic stops when planes land or depart.

The buildings in the back are in Spain. The road from Spain crosses the Gibraltar Airport runway. Traffic stops when planes land or depart.

What a beautiful backdrop

What a beautiful backdrop

Even though we had paid more than I wanted to for a two hour tour, our driver ended up being very interesting and taught us so much about the land, people, and culture. The Gibraltarian peninsula is long and narrow and has been desirable for military reasons for hundreds of years. The Moors, Portuguese, Spanish, and British have all claimed the land over its history and the peninsula is filled with war-time relics.

A cannon in the tunnel

A cannon in the tunnel

The Great Siege Tunnel

The Great Siege Tunnel

When the driver said he was taking us to see St. Michael’s Cave, I was fairly uninterested. After all, I’ve seen plenty of caves lit up in different colors. However, this one was really different. The ingenious Gibraltarians have converted the cave into a concert venue. That’s a pretty cool use of the space, I’d have to say.

St. Michael's Cave - one of many caves I've seen but this one is used as a concert venue.

St. Michael’s Cave – one of many caves I’ve seen but this one is used as a concert venue.

Finally, it was time for the highlight of the Gibraltar trip, monkeys! Gibraltar’s monkeys were originally brought to the peninsula by the Moors (Morocco) hundreds of years ago. Today, they are a national treasure and there’s a full-time government employee whose job is to take care of the monkeys. They were fun and friendly and we couldn’t get enough of them.

Wally, the monkey, climbed into our taxi!

Wally, the monkey, climbed into our taxi!

What a wonderful life!

What a wonderful life!

A Family of Monkeys

A Family of Monkeys

Henry and the monkey

Henry and the monkey

Wally and me

Wally and me

We had a short and beautiful visit in Gibraltar and I honestly think we saw most of it in two hours. I would not recommend staying overnight because the restaurant options are limited and the hotels are older and not very nice. After our quick tour of Gibraltar, we walked across the border to Spain at La Linea and took a bus to Tarifa to catch our ferry to Tangier.

Beautiful blue ocean

Beautiful blue ocean

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