It is either my age, or the age of my laptop, but I have had a devil’s time with my blog this trip. The days go quickly, and some days it is just too much to sit down and work on it. This naturally puts me behind. But when the computer doesn’t cooperate, as well, it gets frustrating. This is the third time that I am writing about Gibraltar. Twice, just before I hit the “Publish” button (and I did save the sucker first), the entire article has disappeared before my eyes, and cannot be recovered. There are the five stages of grief when this happens, most notably ANGER. Just ask George, he had to listen to me. But here I go again, the third time is the charm, right?
We have been to Gibraltar before and found it very interesting, although I wouldn’t put it on my short list for a long-term stay. Do you actually know where Gibraltar is geographically located? Everyone has heard of it, but I’ve found people are a bit fuzzy on its location. In my other blog attempts, I inserted a map. I’m now superstitious and wondering if importing it caused prior problems. Sorry!
Gibraltor is a narrow peninsula connected to southern Spain. It is kind of like the finger pinky pointing to Africa. So close, in fact, that you can see Africa on a clear day from the top of it. It literally guards the Mediterranean. The Rock of Gibraltar was one of the two Pillars of Hercules, the other pillar on the African side of the strait. In ancient times, the two points marked the limit to the known world. Gibraltar is this amazingly huge limestone rock sticking 1,396 feet into the air. It literally is THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR. It is a natural fortress for defense and It has been inhabited since the Neanderthal. They lived in the natural cave formations and it provides scientists with time capsules of their lives. From their findings, we know the Neanderthal looked like this:
There have been hundreds of caves and tunnels dug throughout the centuries. By the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Spanish, right up the British who formally took it around 1830. There is an entire tunnel tour devoted to WWII, including a large hospital installed in the largest cave. It is now used for concerts! We had toured it previously, and decided to stay in the lower town this time.
Crazy little monkeys inhabit the rock, and precocious doesn’t begin to describe them. They steal water bottles, cell phones, and food right out of your pockets. Roll a window down in the car and they are likely to jump right in. Sadly, my pictures disappeared! But google them and see how cute they are.
The last time we were here, our ship was a very short distance from town. George was feeling good, so I suggested we save the shuttle cost and walk the few short blocks. Oops, we were docked at a different pier and this was a much longer walk. George was glaring, I felt bad, and knew he was using up his endurance before we ever reached there.
We finally made it, and I installed George on a shady park bench to recover. He was done in, and since he had been to Gibraltar before, he was happy to read his book and sip the cold drink I got him. I was off!
Gibraltar is British, and there is a distinct Fish and Chips air. They use British money and many of the department stores are from England. It was fun to see a Marks and Spencer store. Lots of small tourist shops abound and we had decided in advance to have Gibraltar fish and chips.
Nearly all of the clerks and food service people are Spanish, living in the Spanish town where Gibraltar and Spain are connected. It may be my stereotyping from old movies here, but there seemed to be a pretty distinct class system. The clerks are probably tired from the long tourist season, but I did not find them friendly or helpful.
Always on the prowl for new spices, I found a tea and spice shop. The owner was very friendly and we got to chatting. She asked if I lived in Gibraltar and looked disappointed when I said no. She is from Israel; her husband transferred here and she opened up her shop. I asked her if the residents were friendly to newcomers. She looked sad and said no. “It is like knocking on the door and nobody will let you in.” No wonder she was hoping I had moved there – she was lonely and hoping to find a new friend.
We chatted way too long and I was late getting back to George. I semi-jogged back to George, but stopped long enough to get my picture with the Pope! He was moonlighting as a mime on the street – how lucky is that! I stopped to take his picture, but he kept holding up his arm in front of his holy face. He didn’t know I intended on contributing to the church donation box. Irritated, I put some money in his box and started to walk on. He trotted after me and asked if I would like a selfie with him. Now is this the People’s Pope, or what? (No offense intended to the real Pontiff!)
George was now baking in the sun and hungry. We walked up the street and found an authentic fish and chips place. It was noon, but the menu was only for breakfast. The waiter said they didn’t start lunch until 12:30. I asked where we could go and he said the next restaurant down the street. I needed the bathroom, but a sign read “No bathroom. Use public one behind building.” Figuring it was probably not very clean, we went on to the next restaurant.
It advertised “Probably the Best Fish and Chips in Gibraltar.” Hmmm. Rather than try to find the boastful “Best Fish and Chips Restaurant” we stopped there. Waiters rushed by our table, totally ignoring us. For a very long time. We were sitting outside, so I went inside to find the bathroom. A handwritten sign indicated it would cost two Pounds or two Euros to use the toilet. Whoa! Usually it is 50 cents, if there is a charge at all. I decided to walk down the street to use the public facilities. They were clean and free!
Walking back, George said we still hadn’t been helped. We basically grabbed a waiter by the arm as he ran by. He looked very annoyed and asked what we wanted. Lunch? Menus? We ordered two fish and chips. About 45 minutes later it was thrown on our table. Such personal service! There were also local people eating there, and the same waiter laughed, hugged and chatted with them. But the food – oh my, it probably was the best fish and chips. Very tasty!
The highlight of our day was the local history museum. It covered history from the Neanderthal to modern times. It is housed in the old governor’s house, which was built long before the British came. At some point there had been a Moorish public baths built there, and the house was built over the top of it. This meant the basement of the house was a Moorish bath. In 1771 a letter from a British resident wrote that he thought there had been a muslim “chapel” in the basement, not realizing it was a bath. The basement was used as storage, a stable and goodness knows what. It did, however, preserve the baths which are now able to be viewed.
We started walking back to the ship, or I did anyway, but George wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to take a cab. One look at his face and I knew I wasn’t going to win this one, so we started looking. Oh my, what a rip.
It cost us 12 Euros to drive one mile. He was there is two minutes flat. George thought it a great price, but I was miffed. Maybe I should tie George on a skateboard and roll him through the vacation.
Gibraltar is nice, but I wouldn’t want to live there. It definitely is a great place to visit for the history and views!
Now, if I can only post this blog! Wish me luck…..