Wednesday, June 26, 2013

vacation part 3: Gibraltar

Whoever controls Gibraltar controls the Mediterranean. Gib is majestic, and you can see yachts, countless cargo vessels, and Africa looming in the background. We wanted to pop over, it's under two miles away, but they didn't allow that. You basically have two options here: climbing the rock or shopping. Shopping is expensive. Even though most stores (other than the post office) take both pounds and Euros, the Euro price is always more. For example, for a Fanta, you could pay 1 Pound ($1.5) or 2 Euros ($2.75) because of "the exchange rate".

We opted for the funicular (air tram) ride to the top, followed by a walk down. The caves and siege tunnels sounded cool. For anyone attempting this I have a few pieces of advice:
  1. Get a good map. The don't like to label their roads. Fortunately, there are few and you can tell by the shapes.
  2. Wear very good walking shoes.
  3. Carry water for each person and refill it when you get to the bathroom at the observation deck.
  4. Carry a stick to beat off taxi drivers offering to do the 2 hour walking tour in 1 hour for the same price. They will follow you everywhere, including the ticket line to the funicular.
  5. Listen for engines and be prepared to dive for your life. The roads on the mountain are one lane and the buses/taxis barrel down them to get to the next tour site so they can run as many tours a day as possible. You will learn how close the sideview mirror can get to your head.
  6. Don't touch or feed the monkeys. Every day someone gets bitten. If you feed them, you earn a stiff fine (over $1600) and the potential for jail time. Yes, I said monkeys: cute, adorable Barbary Macaques, the best attraction on this cruise. You'll take a hundred photos--to identify them to the police later. Half of you have already skipped to the baby pictures at the bottom. I'm trying to save your life, soldier! While we were using the WIFI connection at the cantina by the caves to upload these pix, a monkey wandered into the bar in an attempt to rob the place.
  7. Carry no food or plastic bags. They've learned that plastic means food, and will climb your shoulders to mug you or pick your pocket to get it. This includes cute stuffed monkey purses and candy just purchased at the souvenir shop. This means you!
  8. After the Moorish castle, take the Castle Stairs down instead of the road; it will save you over a mile of walking and a lot of dodging.

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