547 – Friday 25th November 2016: Teeming Rain in Gib
We woke in Zahara and checked the weather forecast, given the rain was catering on our roof. Terrible weather right across Spain – we were not going to be able to out run this one until it blew over after the weekend. Having wanted to do some more walking around the Pueblos Blancos, but not relishing the idea of being sodden and cold, we aborted the hills and headed for Gibraltar. We know we will have to come back to this area of Spain … how many times have we said that?!
Our mifi also seemed to die … we have been expecting Three to cut us off at some point. We had rudimentary parkings for Gib from the apps I use, but could not easily verify them. But hey ho – off we set. We arrived in a large flat tarmac, gated (security guard) car park all of a few mins from the border. We can live with the expensive EUR 18/ night. The Rock is an impressive sight as you approach: Greeks and Romans believed it was one of the Pillars of Hercules – the other being in Morocco. We donned wet weather gear … well some of it as the waterproof trousers were deep in the garage, deep in a box and we did not fancy unpacking it in the rain. It was Noah territory … floods, puddles and just plain wet. We walked to the border around the corner and showed passports twice … once they were retrieved from a plastic bag to keep them dry. In fact, every thing, was in plastic bags … phones, wallets, us … but not Oscar!
Through the boarder controls, we slid our way across the run way which projects into the sea. By this time I, (K) was having a sugar low from insufficient food (and a skinful last night), so we slid into the covered apex of the first restaurant we came to and ate. Blood sugars sorted, we headed up Main Street … post office shut which we needed to send back a pair of J’s glasses for repairing under warranty. I ‘encouraged’ the boys to walk as far as the Governor’s Residence … Oscar shakes regularly to remove the rain and wears a hang dog expression … J hunches shoulders and grasps the opportunity to turn about when eventually proffered to him!
Crossing the runway.
Initial impressions? Not great. Being sodden does not help. A few high street names, but mostly jewellery and booze shops as duty free so cheaper than the UK, but I’m not sure if things are not cheaper than Spain. Some dated red Post Boxes and telephone Boxes are about as English as it gets. Most of the natives seems to speak a heavlily accented Spanglish. The children coming off the school bus looked inbred and I wondered if it was a special school. Later back in Jez drying out, we decided to abort Gib tomorrow – J muttered something about it not being much different to Boroadmead (B shopping area) in Bristol. We slept to the heavy rapping of rain drops on the roof.
548 – Saturday 26th November: Up Ze Rock and Rugby
What’s this? … The skies are clearing. This was not the forecast. We decided to both go into Gib, back through the border control and across the run way. J to post his glasses, me to see if I could buy a lens cap for my camera and do a ‘can’t get this abroad’ shop in Morrisons. We ‘got into’ the garage and retrieved waterproof trousers … and set off. Now, Oscar only likes to do his business on grass and is a pain on the lead until he has emptied … trying to get him to walk in a straight line is neigh on impossible and he becomes NOT popular with regulars trying to get across quickly. Ho hum.
J got his glasses posted (Aged P’s, if they make it to Rothbury in time, another small item for your suitcase!) and then we did the cheese (no cheese on the plate!) full English Breaky. Well J did … I just helped with the odd mouthful!
A regular feature recently seems to be that if we see a hill with a castle / church etc on top, we need to climb it. Rain’s holding off, so up the Rock we go. Blinkin steep in places, but great views across to Morocco and along the coast. Gibraltar looked like a model village. There were not many other people walking it; most take the cable car. J has eschewed cables cars since reading about the Chamonix cable car failure in the summer, when people here helicopter winched off or stayed there overnight! Near the top we encountered the first of the Barbiary Apes. On the viewing platform, they were civilised and left us alone. A little further up, one saw Oscar and came screaming out of the trees snarling with long curling teeth warning Oscar off … think Sarbre Tooth Tiger for the fangs. Now I was not being naive, perhaps a little, I knew dogs and apes are not a good mix, but I guess I’d assumed that the residents were used to tourists et al and would keep a distance. Once we got to the top, and aw more of these flea infested buggers / baboons, J stayed back with O and I carried on to the top.
The Moorish Castle with the Union Jack … the water way below is really busy with container ships and ferries. Little did we realise that there was still a long way up to go!
The walk up did improve my impressions of Gibraltar (amazing what a lack of rain can do). Street names reflect the military outpost history: e.g. Tank Street, Camp Street. On the way up the free to enter Siege Exhibition described conditions during the 3 year siege; there were actually 17 sieges in total.
Discipline was tight.
This one did not show his teeth.
The runway we crossed from our parking.
Old military installations at the top.
After our knee crunching descent we lunched … J and I have a great partnership … I ate the prawn and hake stuffed aubergine in tomato and cheese sauces (Yummy – I will try to recreate this one) and J ate my chips. Don’t feel sorry for him, he’d had a full English!
I’ve not been using my camera since I lost the lens cap and broke the UV filter, so we asked in one of the many (tax free) camera shops for a 46mm lens cap. No lens cap, but a filter at £20. No thank you, I’ve ordered on on eBay for £10 which will be with me in a week … quick chat out the back in Spanish … suddenly the price dropped to £10. Yay! A big shop at Morrisons was a bit surreal … lots of Spanish speakers … rucksack and a couple of bags filled. J waited outside with O and chatted to a Hungarian busker who was trying earn enough for a holiday to Morocco. A lady came up and asked him (the busker) if she could empty her wallet into his hat … he did not say no!
One of the reasons for heading to Gib this weekend was to find a pub showing the Ireland v Australia rugby game … a super pseudo Irish bar, hostess moved us closer to the TV, turned up the volume and we sat and quaffed wine watching a really good game.
Back at the van, we were pleased not to have left Gib this morning … we did some shopping, climbed the Rock (not many can say this) and watched an excellent rugby game. But we don’t need to come back!