On our third day in Spain, Amanda and I woke up quite early to head to Gibraltar. We walked down the dark, pedestrian-only streets of Old Town Màlaga without seeing a soul: it’s a unique feeling to have the normally bustling Old Town streets to yourself. We met our tour bus in Central Màlaga after almost nearly missing it (thankfully two other girls on the day trip partnered up with us to find the darned thing). And, we embarked on our trip – traveling along the Costa del Sol and soaking up the views of the calm Mediterranean Sea early in the morning.
We drove into the mountains and were spit back out again before reaching what is known as la línea de concepcíon and la frontera. We had to get our passports checked before we were allowed to cross into Gibraltar, a Territory of the United Kingdom. Some of the people in our group didn’t get their visas sorted for the day and weren’t allowed to cross into the U.K. Apparently, they take this stuff pretty seriously.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Gibraltar, it’s a British Overseas Territory on Spain’s south coast. It’s well-known for the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m high limestone ridge. It was settled first by the Moors, then ruled by Spain, and was ceded to the British in 1713 and remains British to this day. Gibraltarians speak English, Spanish, and a curious mix of the two in which they swap back and forth mid-sentence. They have a name for this, but, I honestly forgot. The weather in Gibraltar is typically British (cloudy with a drizzle), while all around Gibraltar, the weather is typically Spanish (sunny). It’s quite funny when you think of it. See the picture below for a better visualization.
Our first stop on the way up the rock was Europa Point. It’s the southernmost point of Gibraltar, accompanied by an automated lighthouse and views of Morocco. I wish that seeing a country counted as a visit. I’ve always wanted to go to Africa and being so close, yet so far, really inspired the urge to go there even more. #someday.
The next stop was St. Micheal’s Cave. I haven’t been in a cave in a long time (high school in KY was the last time I believe – Mammoth Cave National Park). The unique thing about St. Michael’s Cave is that it is believed to be bottomless. Kind of creepy if you ask me. It’s also used for concerts, plays, and fashion shows, thus the crazy lighting it’s outfitted with, which you’ll see in the pictures. Oh, and the local monkeys – Barbary Marques – are all over the place up here. Y’all, the inquisitiveness mixed with slight fear I had for these monkeys was ridiculous. I couldn’t bring myself to get too close, but, they were intriguing little guys and gals.
Post-cave, we made our way to the remains of a 14th century Moorish Castle and the 18th century Great Siege Tunnels, which were expanded in WWII and used to hold weapons and hide people. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it inside either. But, we did stop at the Apes Den on the Upper Rock and my goodness, was it full of monkeys. Apparently, they are hit or miss up here, and we got really lucky during our visit.
Upon our return to town, we made our way thru Irish Town (a must do now that I’m married to an Irishman) and into Grand Casemates Square. This square was once the site of public military hangings, the last being held in 1864. I mean, when there’s nothing else to do on Saturday morning, why not have tea and watch public executions. Just. Kidding. Here is where we found Gibraltar Crystal – i.e., hand-blown glass. I love this art. I was introduced to it at Centre College and find it extraordinary. And, of course, Amanda and I both purchased a piece here; when in Rome ;).
Now, in order to depart Gibraltar, we had to clear all of our items off the tour bus, walk thru customs with our passports out (to be checked – which they weren’t), and then get back on the bus out other side. The amount of tourists here is obvious when you see the line to get thru customs. An experience for sure. You get one last look at the rock while you’re waiting in line too. So cool.
Once we arrived back in Màlaga, we headed for our last Màlagan dinner at Gorki – a famous tapas bar. Of course we ordered a ham and cheese plate and pan con tomate along with some Andalusian white wine and olives to start (all in Spanish I might add). I ordered pork loin with seeded mustard sauce and rice for dinner – needed something a bit hearty. And it was so, so good :)!
Random Question: What do you see in the figure photographed above? Answer: I saw two faces, but, there is no right answer. The beauty of art interpretation. And wine. Oh Malaga, I really enjoyed you. And, our day in Gibraltar was well worth the trek. I’ll forever have a piece of Gibraltar Crystal as well. I count myself lucky in my travel adventures.
Piece above by: Gibraltar Crystal