Munky business!

Gibraltar is a British territory, although it has its own currency in Gibraltar pounds and its own elected government. It basically rules itself. However, British pounds can be used and the predominent language is English. It has no cities or towns, it is just Gibraltar – The Rock!

Once through customs, I headed for the nearist buss stotp, showing a pedestrian the address of the hostel I had booked previously in Cadiz. The local showed me to the bus and asked the driver to drop me near my destination. After being deposited, I made a turning, crossed a road and after asking some more people for the hostel, ascended a steep slope and found the place in question. It was a simple affair with a tiny paved garden and basic rooms. The dorms were in the back up a couple of ramps. The hostel was run by Moroccans; young and aggressive, but friendly enough. There was a kitchen but only for staff use. I found this somewhat strange, but used it anyway. I then got directions to the centre and went exploring. I basically exited the hostel, descended the almost vertical hill, crossed a main road, walked down another small street before finding myself in a pedestrian square. This was Gibraltar’s centre. It resembled any British highstreet, mostly shops and pubs, noisy and full of loud English types. I had a lemonaid in one pub then found a chip shop and had English quizine! It was not cheap, everything is imported, hence the high prices. A pint of lemonaid was £2.50 and my fish and chips cost £5. A night in a dorm at Gibraltar’s only hostel cost £15, expensive after the hostels in Spain and Portugaul. I stayed one night. I spent my only real day on the rock sight-seeing. After collecting some money from the post-office sent by Western Union, I visited the tourist information office and discovered I could get a taxi tour around the rock. This apparently cost £48, but if you found two or three other people it was only £16 each. I went to the taxi rank and said what I wanted. One cabby suggested waiting to see if anyone else arrived. Eventually, he captured an American couple and off we went – I got the tour for free.

Our guide was an insatiable chap, but funny as well. He said he was a mixture of Italian and Maltese, but was born on the Rock. He drove us round, pointing out the different attractions, telling us about the Strait of Gibraltar and how it went to Morocco, that the rock was British and had been returned by the Spanish in exchange for the Canary Islands. We were told about how the area was discovered by arabs who crossed from Morocco and traveled as far as Granada in southern Spain. Hence, Gibraltar’s diverse culture. We visited a large mosque, but were only allowed in the entrance because it was a Friday and a day of prare. I asked about the port, which was closed to tourists because of security. The navel base is used by the British Mediterranean fleet, Gibraltar being the gateway to the Mediterranean and also the Atlantic. Our guide took us to a vantage point where we could see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

We next headed up the rock, absorbing the magnificent view. The guide informed us about the rock, its size and depth. We heard about the tunnels dug by the British Royal Engineers in 1941 in case of invasion by the germans. The tunnels went a long way under ground and are still used, it is the fastist way to reach the international airport! Our first stop on top of the rock was to visit the munkys. The munkys or ‘barbary macaques’ were everywhere. The driver was knowned to them and yelled at them. He told one named Barbara to ‘Get out my window’. I took a picture and gave the munky some peanuts. We then stopped for a photo oppourtunity and I had a munky on my head – that was a little scary! The barbary macaque was heavy. They were cheaky, ran around and tried to steel items from our persons. Our guide took my cane at one point and gave one a poke. They were very small, about two feet in hight and extremely quick and strong. The guide said he recconed they were smart because they had never crossed into Spain!next we visited a large cave and the American couple and I entered and explored. It was a huge cavern, more resembling a large amphitheatre, but without seats. There were many small, steep steps and one had to watch their footing. The natural stone architecture was magnificent.

Our final stop was at the mouth to the tunnel system. I alighted here and asked if I could go and explore some of the tunnels. The driver asked another guide and he agreed to give me a brief talk and bring me down afterwards. I thought he might allow me in one tunnel, but he refused because of safety. However, he did give me a brief outline of their history and geography, which can be found on any website about the Tunnel system of Gibraltar. There was a Six pounder machine gun outside the tunnel entrance and I got a picture with a pritty girl next to it – beauty and uglyness together! Then I boarded a large bus along with another tour group for the descent to the centrol area.

Once back in the centre, I took a local bus to the boarder. Back on Spanish soil after walking through the customs tunnel gate, I crossed a road and found the bus station after some wandering. Local Spanish bus companies were on strike, so I could not get a direct bus to my destination. One bus took me to Algeciras, where I had a long wait for a bus to Terifa, my final stop that day. The entire journey from Gibraltar to Terifa took over six hours. I was deposited in terifa next to a petrol station on the outskirts of town. One old Spanish gentleman slightly drunk, helped me into town and to the hostel. We stopped briefly for coffee along the way and he introduced me to several of his friends. We eventually found the hostel after wandering several tiny streets. I thanked the man and settled in and relaxed with a hot shower.

The hostel was basic with a small bar, some comfortable chairs and little else. The dorms were up stairs. I met one couple from Wales but few other people. The receptionist was French.

I spent my two days walking the tiny town, searching for a bank to change my British pounds and locating the windiest beach in Europe. That is what Terifa is renouned fore – its windyness. Indeed, it is a wind-serfers paradice. I spent a good day walking the beach which was avoid of any people and had a relaxing strole. Though the weather was very warm and when I ran out of water, the walk became more demanding.

On returning to the hostel, I collected my pack and went in search of the ferry port to catch the boat to Morocco, to begin the last part of this crazy journey.

I found the ferry port with a little help and once there, had my first problem. I only had 27 Euros left and a single boat journey to Tanger, Morocco cost 31 Euros. Also, there was no currency exchange, it being Spain and Terifa only being a small port town. I also had no debit card, mine having been subject to credit card frord in Northern Spain a month before. My bank had repayed the money, but as yet had not granted me a new card, one was now probably sitting on my door mat with my post, but I was in Southern Europe not England. Hence, the cash by Western union. I stood at the ticket counter looking lost and pennyless and the ticket Clarke told me to give him what I had and he discarded the remainder. I thanked him and twenty minutes later boarded the large ferry to morocco, where the last part of this interesting, but strange journey began.

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