Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Piece of the Rock

Sunday morning the rain stopped for a while, and we drove into Gibraltar. It is a small and very crowded place, three miles long and one mile wide, including mountain. High-rises are everywhere (the only direction to build is up) and much of it is on reclaimed land. Traffic is awful--and the Spanish aggrevate this by snarling the border--and parking non-existent, especially for 7 meter vans. Although Gibraltans drive on the "improper" side of the road (since 1920) and observe the siesta along with their large neighbor, much else is pleasantly British. We spent a couple hours in and around the Morrison's (a large UK supermarket), a trip down memory lane, reminding ourselves of all the UK foods and drinks we came to love, or at least ingest, during our stint there. There was a special on haggis in observance of Robbie Burns' birthday, but I felt the portion was a bit large. We did stock up on scones, ginger beer, all day breakfast, and a few other small delights. Alas, they were out of clotted cream, but told us there would be more by noon on Monday. Since the cable-car to the top of Gibraltar does not run on Sundays (in the winter), we had already resolved to hang around another day.

We then boldly set forth on a driving tour of Gibraltar. This does not take long. On the sea-side, by a small beach, right under the summit of The Rock, we found a large open parking place and grabbed it immediately. There were none of the usual signs that say "no over-night camping" or such. The road was a 1/4 mile dead-end, with speed-humps every 100 meters or so, fronting right on the ocean; we resolved to stay, at least until someone told us to move.

Within a few minutes it became apparent that we were not the only persons exploring this road. From this point, maybe 2 PM, until midnight, there were hardly ever fewer than 6 cars on this little road, driving to the end, turning around, driving back. Early on, most were families, apparently sightseeing. The odd thing was they all had GBZ (Gibraltar) license plates. The Spanish, especially around Algeciras and La Linea frequent Gibraltar for cheap petrol, cigarets, booze, and sugar. Sugar is heavily taxed in Spain. The convenience stores all had aisles of sacks of sugar. But all the people driving our little beach road were all Gibraltans. As the sun set, those driving the road to its short end, turning around, and driving back, were younger, teenagers, cruising. (On this road, cruising for what? Nothing but construction sites, a cement-mixer station, the airport hangars on one side, the beach on the other). We never did come to understand this phenomenon. It quieted down about midnight, as we finished watching movies, but then started right back up early the next morning.
Looking up at the summit of The Rock

Our campsite, on Eastern Beach, at 36
degrees, 08'55.88N, 5 degrees, 20'23.54W;
check it out on Google Earth

A dozen or more ships anchored outside our window
Flying dogs, no less; just a bit more of the British obsession
with dogs, upon which I have earlier commented
Moorish remains
Casemates Square, ground-zero Gibraltar; formerly Villa
Viejo, the Moorish village established in 711 but destroyed
after 13 sieges; the Moors landed here first; Gibel-Tarik,
their leader, gave his name to Gibraltar
Mechanism for depressing a gun; sort of important in a
place like Gibraltar; my questions is...how do you keep the
ball from rolling out the barrel?

Main drag

All the many walls and batteries are named, this one among
the oldest
Out our window

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