So, our first official blog post. Well, it’s a little later than we’d planned, but like they always say “better late than never.”
Here goes 🙂
This past weekend we went out on a whim and rented a car to drive to Gibraltar. For a while now we’ve been wanting to do some traveling close by, and since we’d brought back camping supplies (tent and sleeping bags – hardly sufficient supplies if you’re a Lake 🙂 , but we made it work), we thought we’d go for it. We’d originally planned to split some of the car costs with some friends who wanted to come along but, they got sick so we went on our own. The drive is only about three hours outside of Seville, but getting out of Seville takes just about as long. Especially when you don’t know which way you’re headed. We brought Rocky along as well, and he was definitely excited to get into a car again.
We had to show our passports as Gibraltar is a separate country (owned by Great Britain), though, even when we asked they wouldn’t stamp our passports. We decided to take the tour, offered only if you drive yourself (as opposed to the gondola that will only take you to the top of the rock). With the tour we were able to see much more. We’ll explain along the way as we go through the pictures.
the first view of the Rock as you’re driving towards it
the port of Gibraltar
top of the rock
our very first monkey sighting!
We were really excited to see the monkeys. It was one of our main motivations for the trip. We couldn’t believe they were actually as wild, populous and friendly as everyone claimed, but they were. They were everywhere. Especially near their den, where most of these photos were taken. Because we had Rocky with us, the monkeys were way more interested in our car than the rest of the tourists. Neither of them knew what to think of each other and got kind of defensive, so Rocky stayed in the car.
out for a ride
One of our first stops on the Rock was St. Michael’s Cave. The cave is so big that there has been speculation that it’s bottomless. The cave was formed by hundreds of thousands of years of water dripping down through the rock. This has in turned cause tons of mineral deposits to form stalagmites and stalactites all over the caves. It’s absolutely amazing inside. And, they’ve even found a Neanderthal skull in its depths.
In World War II two, part of the cave was cleared out to be used as a make-shift hospital, but there was never a need for it. So, the Generals decided it’d be best to use it as an amphitheater, holding hundreds of concerts and shows for the soldiers.
from the stage
The Moorish castle below, has been on the island for thousands of years. Recently it has gone through a renovation so many of the older parts are completely new. This makes it pretty difficult to imagine it in its original time, but it was really nice to be able to go inside.
Because we didn’t realize there was so much to see on the rock, we had assumed we could get some lunch pretty quickly after seeing the monkeys. However, by the time we finished with the castle we were starved. One of the ticket-takers had recommended a place in town for wonderful fish & chips, and we decided it was time to head down. Earlier in the day, while we’d been at the Monkey’s Den, we’d run into a couple visiting the Rock with their kids, who’d recognized our American accents. Paul is American as well, but he’s spent most of his life in Spain and his wife Sunsoles is Spanish, they ended up being a really nice couple. We struck up a great conversation with them and passed along the name of the restaurant that had been recommended. But, unfortunately, by the time we got ourselves down the Rock, it turned out the restaurant we were trying to get to was already closed. So, we tried the one across the plaza. And, it just happened that Paul and Sunsoles had run into the same problem. But, the new place had some amazing fish & chips (probably the best I’ve ever had) and we were able to visit with our new friends.
streets of Gibraltar
During our lunch we were trying to decide the best place to spend the rest of the weekend and where we’d stay the night. Paul suggested we check out Marbella, a town near where they live. Apparently it’s known for being the playground of Europe’s rich and famous. And, it was pretty classy. Not quite like Monaco, but pretty close. As we were leaving town, we also recrossed the word’s shortest runway. The landing strip runs the full length east to west across Gibraltar and crosses paths with the main road. So, when a plane is landing gates come across the road like a train is passing. I imagine it’s pretty funny to see. The Spanish town right on the other side of the border is called La Linea. Literally meaning “the line.” The town is supposed to be a great place to shop because they confiscate a lot of the goods from pirates, but we didn’t do any shopping.
world’s shortest runway
playground of the rich
After a full day of playing with the monkeys and exploring the caves, we headed out. We had to ask quite a few Spaniards for directions to some campsites, and finally found one. The only problem was that they didn’t want dogs, so we had to sneak Rocky in. But, the site was pretty nice and we had no problems. We got up pretty early the next morning and headed out. We made it to our next stop pretty quickly, Malaga, the home of Pablo Picasso. There were a few stops we made within the city, but the first one was their cathedral, built in 1766. We’d heard from Paul that the cathedral is particular because only one of its towers is complete. Apparently, the US had been funding its construction and when it entered WWII the funding stopped and the tower was never finished.
cathedral side, undergoing restoration
entrance, between two towers
completed left tower
incomplete right tower
lack of funding
By the time we finished with the cathedral, we were pretty hungry so we made our way down the street and stopped at a great little place with outside tables for our usual cafe con leche y tostadas (coffee and toast). After we had ordered, we realized it was actually a tea shop. But because we’d already order coffee, we didn’t get to try any of their teas. We decided that the next time we’re in Malaga we’ll make it a priority.
desserts & teas
great little stop
We got done with breakfast continued our walk through the city, fortunately we ran across an open tourist office where we were able to get a map of the city and plan out our next stops. The first was the childhood home of Pablo Picasso.
Malaga’s final big attraction was a large Moorish castle called La Alcazaba (from the Arabic word for citadel), built in the 700s. The stone work was amazing, the views from the top were unbelievable and the gardens were everywhere.
From the top of the castle we were able to get some amazing views of the entire city of Malaga. The port in Malaga is pretty well known for transit so it is always full of large boats and barges and the rest of the city is pretty spectacular for its buildings and gardens.
top of Alcababa
port of Malaga
enjoying the view
After finishing up at the castle, we headed back to Seville to return the rental car. It was an amazing weekend and we feel so blessed to have had the chance to see it. We hope the next time we go we’ll be sharing it with family & friends.