Monday, June 13, 2011

Torremolinos on $85 a Day - Gibraltar Rocks!

It's only an hour and a half drive to the United Kingdom from Torremolinos.

That is, it's an hour and a half drive if you want to see a pint-size version of England crammed into an area that's only 2 1/4 square miles in size.

This spur of land on the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula is dominated by the Rock, of course, which, at almost 1400 feet, is truly impressive. Long symbolizing strength and endurance, the Rock is actually more like a honeycomb riddled with holes in the form of caves where Neanderthal fossils have been found along with tunnels that were dug during WW II. If you take the cable car to the top of the Rock, you'll see the wild Barbary apes cavorting in the nature preserve, St. Michael's Cave where concerts are held in the acoustically ideal chamber, and some spectacular views of Morocco.

Because the limestone outcropping dominates the landscape and leaves little flat land, the Rock has caused an interesting situation. There are no railroad crossings in town, but there is an airplane crossing. Gibraltar's only airplane runway crosses the main road into Gibraltar. When a flight is expected, the road is closed and drivers must wait for the plane to pass!

Back in the village, where some 30,000 inhabitants cling to the edge of the Rock, it is obvious that Gibraltar has an identity crisis.

It is officially a British possession with British currency, postage stamps, newspapers, TV stations and bars serving properly drawn pints, but the languages heard in town are Spanish and English.

The architecture is an interesting blend of at least two cultures--white-washed Spanish houses, often decorated with colorful tiles, have delicate Victorian cast-iron balconies.

There's an Irish Town, with lots of buildings painted green, and a changing of the guards in front of the Governor's house, but the double decker buses drive on the right side of the street, not the left.

David and I were delighted our friends took us to this tiny bit of England, and we didn't care a whit that this fascinating city couldn't seem to make up its mind about its nationality. English or Spanish? Who cares? As long as Gibraltar produces desserts like this, the town can embrace any identity it likes!

Practicalities -
Click here for  government information about Gibraltar.

Click here for all kinds of helpful information about the Rock.

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