This morning we got up, ate breakfast, and had to check out of our hotel by 9:30. It was sad to leave because it was a super nice hotel with great breakfast. We boarded the bus for two-hour ride south to Marabella. We arrived at lunch and had two hours to eat and visit the beach. Shannon and I hunted for a supermarket and purchased bread and snacks. The time spent in Marbella was nice but I was really looking forward to seeing The Rock.
Finally we were on our way. Before we entered, the bus had to park so we could walk through customs and into the city. I had no idea how fascinating Gibraltar was! It's owned by Great Britain, so all the citizens are British, but since it's SO tiny and locked in by Spain, it does have Spanish culture as well. On our tour of the rock, we learned more about the area.
Our guide was a native to Gibraltar and explained a ton of interesting facts. He grew up there, and didn't actually get to go into Spain until he was 14 years old! Everyone there learns both English (with a British accent!) and Spanish: English at school and Spanish at home and on the streets. Gibraltans originally came from descendants of people from Malta, Portugal, and British soldiers. They are technically British citizens and don't want to become a part of Spain; they are proud of their ancestry. In 1929 it was decided that they would drive on the right side of the road, unlike the UK, to avoid problems with so many cars and trucks entering and leaving the city every day.
The monkeys on the rock were originally pets which got out of hand quickly. Now they are taken good care of and given vaccinations since they do bite and there are so many tourists taking photos with them (like us). The rock itself has 600 types of plants and flowers, and the bottom park is all built-up man-made land taken from rock within THE rock. The actual Rock of Gibraltar is so big it makes its own clouds and weather (luckily it was clear the day we were there!). In 2008 a huge storm came through (an almost-hurricane) and they told all the ships to evacuate the straight. All but one did, and by the time he decided to, it was too late. Our guide showed us photos of the waves taller than the lighthouse that smashed the boat into the rocks at the bottom.
The city of Gibraltar has its own airport, which is very unique. The runway actually crosses the road you MUST take into the city through customs. When a plane needs to land, they have to stop traffic and pedestrians until the runway is clear. Luckily they only fly to London so flights are few and far between.
Our guide told us all of this while we drove up the winding roads to the top of the rock. He also told us a bit about the currency. All shops accept Euros because of the high spanish and tourist population. However, those who work in Gibraltar are paid in Gibraltar Pounds. They are basically the same as a GB pound but have their own pictures on them.
We finally reached the top where we enjoyed a view of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, Europe, Africa, Spain, Gibraltar, and Morocco (while holding a monkey). Despite being touristy, the experience was incredible and the history was fastinating. I