Whilst on our visit to Spain recently we thought we ought to make the effort to travel that little bit further. In fact, to visit Gibraltar which turned out to be just an hour's drive from where we were staying in Mijas on the Costa del Sol.
The Rock of Gibraltar is located at the entrance to the Mediterranean. It has a solid economy and because of its history and location has always remained prominent in the world's press and media. Gibraltar has been a British Territory since 1704. Ceded forever to Britain by Spain in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Gibraltar joined the EU in 1973, under the British Treaty of Accession. When General Franco closed the border for a while ,in the 1950's, with "the Rock" at the nearby La Linea (meaning 'boundary line' in Spanish), it was Algeciras that he decided to develop to absorb the Spanish workers who used to be employed in the British naval dockyards and in order to break the area's dependence on Gibraltar. Gibraltar has always relied on La Línea for the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish as well as many other products. There is also an important Spanish military presence in La Línea.
First of all I have to tell you that both Hubby and I visited Gib, as it is affectionately known, about 40 years ago! SSShhsshh! Where has the time flown? Anyway, Hubby went there with friends on a holiday and stayed with them on Gib itself. However, I flew into Gib (always did have to be different!) on my very first familiarisation flight on joining the Royal Air Force. Gib was and still is a stragetic spot with a small airforce base keeping its presence. The airport serves as a military base as well as a civilian airport. There aren't many air movements as you can see from the state of the runway!
Or here! These pictures were taken as we walked across from La Línea , Spain. You actually walk along a pathway alongside the road for cars. It is a strange experience and you keep watching out each way in case of aircraft!! One of the strangest sights to see is that of English policemen around the town. Here is one on duty outside the Departure lounge at the airport.
Once we arrived in Gib, we had decided to leave the car in Spain and walk. we headed for the town centre. Gib is a mixture of historical buildings and modern. My biggest disappoint was that it was so geared up for the tourist, or rather the English bucket and spade mob as well as the large cruise liners. Did I really want to choose between a full English breakfast (cholesterol on a plate), a medium sized breakfast or a huge one!! Other than that you could have bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potato), meat pie etc etc. When I think of the wonderful fresh fish that should have been available. Also, because the traffic tended to be a very transient one which meant that visitors would literally spend only a few hours on a day visit, the customer service in many establishments left much to be desired. Shops along the High Street were all those you would find in any English town. Such a shame when I felt they could have exploited Gib to far better effect other than appearing to try to fleece the unwary and push so many Duty Free goods that were often cheaper back home!
Still, we did walk around although we did not feel up to going on a tour of the Rock. Again, the tours that were on offer were so expensive.
Historically, Gib has much to offer from its Garrison days. This link http://www.gibnet.com/data/facts.htm is very useful and interesting in its recount of the how's and when's of Gib in explaining its long and checkered history.
However, we did walk around and explored many of the side streets which gave the feeling of the real Gibraltar. Here are remains of the original fort with various plaques such as these of the King's Bastion describing different events. Whilst in complete contrast I managed to capture a picture of a typical old residential building making sure I did not have any tourists or cars in the shot!
Both Hubby I would not have missed this visit for the world but came away feeling somewhat disappointed that such an important and unique place could be so exploited.