Thursday, July 16, we said goodbye to our Moroccan guide and began the Spanish portion of our trip. Here is what we saw first from our ferry boat:
This huge ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ statue welcomes everybody who arrives to the harbour of the Spanish town Tarifa. After 10 days in an Islamic country, I felt that this statue, facing Africa, is a very powerful statement. 45 minutes on the ferry boat and what a difference!
We met our new guide and driver, both nice Spanish men, and began with a tour of Gibraltar.
We left Spain for three short hours to find ourselves in…… the United Kingdom!
This is what Rick Steves writes about Gibraltar:
One of the last bits of the empire upon which the sun never set, Gibraltar is an unusual mix of Anglican propriety, “God Save the Queen” tattoos, English bookstores, military memories, and tourist shops. It is understandably famous for its dramatic Rock of Gibraltar, which rockets improbably into the air from an otherwise flat terrain, dwarfing everything around it.
Britain has controlled this highly strategic spit of land since they took it by force in 1704, in the War of Spanish Succession. During World War II, the Rock was further fortified and dug through with more and more strategic tunnels.
Strolling Gibraltar, you can see that it was designed as a modern military town, which means it is not particularly charming. But over the last 20 years the economy has gone from one dominated by the military to one based on tourism. On summer days and weekends, the tiny colony is inundated by holiday-goers, primarily the Spanish who come here for tax-free cigarettes and booze and British who want a change in weather but not in culture.
One of the attractions here is St. Michael’s Cave, illuminated with lights changing colours every few seconds.
Here is another attraction in Gibraltar:
The Rock is home to about 200 “apes,” actually, tailless Barbary macaques-a type of monkey. The males are bigger, females have beards, and newborns are black. They live about 15 to 20 years.
Legend has it that as long as the monkeys remain here, so will the Brits. According to a plausible local legend, when word came a few decades back that the ape population was waning, Winston Churchill made a point to import reinforcement.
After the two-hour tour and a quick lunch, of course fish and chips, we returned to Spain.