Day 11: Gibraltar!
On our first full day in Tarifa, we actually took a day trip. Tarifa is a really small beach town. It is super cute but not too exciting, so we had planned to use it as a hub for trips to more exciting locations. This one just happened to be to Gibraltar.
Before planning this trip, I literally knew nothing about Gibraltar except that I had heard the name sung in songs. Weird, I know. Gibraltar is located on the southern tip of Spain but is actually part of the United Kingdom. You actually have to go through passport control and all of that to get to Gibraltar, as well as walk across a landing strip.
The only tricky thing about getting to Gibraltar is figuring out the bus schedule. To get there from Tarifa, we had to take a bus from Tarifa to Algeciras and then another bus from Algeciras to La Linea. Figuring out the timing to be sure we wouldn’t be waiting at the bus station for hours with two little kids was a little grueling. Then, once we got to La Linea, we had to walk a little to get into Gibraltar. Thank God for Rick Steves and his step-by-step instructions! We were exhausted that morning but ended up deciding to pick up pastries to eat on the bus, though part of that was just to keep Felix busy. For the most part, the bus rides ended up being fairly easy. The walk from La Linea to Gibraltar was pretty easy and passport control was kind of a joke. The woman looked at our passports long enough to see that we were the people pictured in them and then waved us through. It was no big deal at all.
Once we got into Gibraltar, we took a certain red bus and then a certain blue bus that got us near the cable car that would take us up to the top of the rock. And it is amazing how British everything is. Obviously, it would be British because it is part of the UK, but it was kind of cool to come from Spanish-speaking Spain with its tapas, etc. to English speakers, double decker buses, and fish and chips. Even the money switches to pounds, though most places still accept euros.
The cable car was super expensive but worth it with two kids. It was a little scary riding up the mountain but the view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.
The cable car ticket also came with a free audio guide which explained the views of Spain and Africa that could be seen from the top of the rock.
And then there are the famous apes…
Of course, there were lots and lots of people who tried to mess with them, but we just stood back and watched the show. The apes have been known to steal food so there are signs everywhere about how much you could be fined if you were caught feeding them. Of course, that didn’t stop most people. They really are just roaming around freely and they were really fun to watch. We saw them climb on people’s shoulders (after being provoked) and watched them play. We ended up buying the kids a stuffed ape in the gift shop and it was the kind that wraps around things. Eric took a picture of Anya with the stuffed monkey hanging on her and had her act like it was real. It almost looks real at first glance!
After hanging around on the top of the rock for a couple of hours, we opted to take the cable car back down rather than walk. If we had been on our own, it would have been really fun to hike down the rock because there are a lot of other things to see along the way but it would have been nearly impossible with two small children.
By the time we got down the rock, the kids were asleep in the stroller, so we opted to have lunch in an English pub. This was super pricey but it was fun. We got to eat a little before the kids woke up to eat their share. After eating, we took a walk described in Rick Steves’ book that took us through Main Street. Apparently, there are certain goods that are not taxed in Gibraltar so the shops are crowded with shoppers quite a bit. It was during this walk that we realized we needed to catch a bus at a certain time or we would have to wait a couple more hours before getting back to Tarifa. We never thought we would make it because we had a couple of buses to take to even get to the bus station, but somehow we made it. The funny thing was that we walked straight through passport control and didn’t even have to stop at all. It was kind of a joke, really.
We arrived back in Tarifa in the late afternoon/early evening and decided to walk down to the beach to watch the windsurfers. We made a quick grocery stop and headed back to our apartment, where we let the kids play on the rooftop terrace for a bit.
We went back to the old town for dinner and found a cute little French restaurant that served both savory and sweet crepes. We had one crepe that was filled with goat cheese, lettuce, honey, and walnuts and another one that had tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms. We ordered a sweet crepe to take back to the apartment for dessert.
It was an exhausting but awesome day. We had several people tell us that Gibraltar isn’t worth the trouble, but we were glad we went. If you don’t mind taking a little time to get there, it’s worth the trip!