Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Things You Will Find in Gibraltar!

Gibraltar...what can one say about traveling here?  There are so many things to say about this tiny city state, that I don't know where to start.
The Rock of Gibraltar is a landmark known around the world.  The tiny country has used that rock as a fortress as recently as World War II.  It's a British territory which governs itself and takes periodic referendums which reinforce the people's wishes.  The Spanish have aspirations of ruling the tiny country, but the Gibraltarians have no interest in this.
But, why would I encourage someone to visit there on a vacation?  What's the draw that makes this a unique destination?

Barbary Macaque Monkeys, or Gibraltar Monkeys are one of the main attractions in a country that spans only 2.6 square miles.  These guys have been living here for over 1000 years.  There are about 250 monkeys living in Gibraltar, and they live in five different groups in various locations around the Rock of Gibraltar.  They are somewhat tame, and they love to visit with the tourists when they're in the mood.
As always, remember, they are not pets.  They will do what they wish, so be careful when encountering them.  But, don't shy away either.  These guys are the number one thing to see in the country.
The Rock of Gibraltar is one of the most fascinating places to see in all of Europe.  There are many sections of the Rock to explore.  You can see monkeys in a lot of the locations around the Rock.

There's the Apes Den, which is self explanatory.  There are caves all over the Rock.
There is an old fort that was used to defend the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea and the Iberian Peninsula.  There are parts of the fort inside the Rock as well.

There's St. Michael's Cave which is a wonder all on it's own.
There are many things to see on and inside the Rock of Gibraltar, but everywhere you go, you may run into the monkeys.  It's their home, and they love it there.  Make sure you respect that, but take advantage of the unique situation that exists around that Rock.  You may never have another chance to have this type of encounter with wild monkeys.  They are unique and living in a unique situation.  It's the greatest thing ever to just walk up and feed them or shake hands with them.  It's amazing.

Remember, the city of Gibraltar is an old British territory.  The buildings are British.  There are British Guards at the government buildings.  There are British pubs throughout the city and the official language of the country is English.  They even have British phone booths.  It's a taste of Britain at the crossroads of two continents.

And here's another attraction for you.  The airport here is exceptional.  It's one of the ten most dangerous airports in the world.  The planes here cross the road where the cars drive and the pedestrians walk.  It's the only setup like it.  The road actually crosses the runway.  Throw in some outstanding cross winds from the sea and the Rock, and you have an amazingly dangerous place to come and go at.  The price is normally ridiculous too, so my best advice is to fly into Lisbon or Seville and drive the rest of the way.

Gibraltar is also one of the busiest port cities in all of Europe, so the harbor is always busy.  Here's the thing.  The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow body of water that separates Europe from Africa.  If you get on the local ferry for about an hour, you will wind up in Morocco.  This is a great day trip to take while in the country.  It gives you that little side trip to another continent.  Make sure you check out the political map before going to Morocco, however, things have been in unrest over there lately.
So, swing by Gibraltar.  It's a little country of 30,000 people that has some surprises to offer.  It's location, it's independence and unwillingness to be changed into a Spanish territory, it's ports, it's people from over 10 nationalities, and it's giant rock are all worth coming to see.

And don't forget the monkeys.  It will be the one thing that you will never forget about Gibraltar.


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