A couple of days ago, my friend Pete (or PStas, as he's called in these parts) left a comment here telling me to check out Gibraltar since I was going to be in the area. He described it as follows: "Monkeys, British people, a fortress in the caves, and you drive in across an airstrip. It's wacky." Gibraltar had already been on my radar, but with that description, it became set. There was no WAY I wasn't going to Gibraltar.
From the top of the RockBefore I go into why Gibraltar's so incredibly "wacky," as PStas says (and to which I concur), here's a little history lesson: Gibraltar is a small town on the south tip of Spain. It's got a massive, limestone rock (you knew that already), the Rock of Gibraltar. Gibraltar was controlled by the Moors until Spain claimed it in 1462. Then, during the War of Spanish Succession, in which Britain sided with Spain against the French, Britain seized control of Gibraltar (way to play nice with your ally, Brits), and officially took possession under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Since then, there have been battles, military and diplomatic, between Spain and Britain over Gibraltar, but as of now, it remains under British control.
The Rock from a distanceYou probably already knew all of that because you paid attention in your European History class, whereas it's all news to me because I took European History from my track and cross country coach, who recognized the value of rest before hard workouts and may or may not have let me take naps during his class and/or skip it altogether when big meets were on the horizon. (On the off chance you're reading this, DTH, I'm totally kidding, I loved your class and paid attention all the time! It's just been a while and I forgot some of the details. And congrats on getting the girls' team back to State again!) (And on the 100% chance that you're reading this, Mom, I'm totally kidding, I never skipped classes. Never.)
So, with that background, let's work through PStas's description.
At the same time, they were incredibly creepy. There's something about animals with opposible thumbs and being in their territory....I just had this distinct feeling that if they wanted to, they could gang up and kill me in a second. One stared me down, obviously looking for food, and I kid you not, I got the chills. So honestly, getting close enough for this picture was a huge exercise in courage:
- "British People"
And then, in the town square ...about 65 restuarants advertising Fish & Chips. It was like the whole city was just trying to say, over and over, "we are British, dammit!"
I'd say it's like I never left London, but I didn't see that many Fish & Chips joints in LondonI will concede that I stuck to the touristy parts and it's very likely that the rest of the town wasn't this over the top, but it amused me. It reminded me of that fake British town in Arrested Development, from the episodes when Michael was pursuing Charlize Theron without realizing that she was mentally slow. You know what I'm talking about, right?
- "A Fortress in the Caves"
- "And You Drive in Across an Airstrip"
That was a little annoying, and judging by the crowd around me, there's a ton of people who live in La Linea and work in Gibraltar and have to do that walk every day. I'd be annoyed, but they seemed to handle it OK. It wasn't cutting into their siesta time, so I guess in the grand scheme of Spanish things, it wasn't such a huge deal.
And that was Gibraltar. Probably my favorite day of my travels, thus far, based solely on its strangeness.