We were expecting to take a trip to Gibraltar as a joint anniversary present (16 years) in March, but an unexpected holiday gave us a four-day weekend. The holiday in question is Día de Andalucía (Andalusia Day). This important date, February 28th,commemorates the date when Andalusia was made an Autonomous Community in Spain some 33 years ago.
With Bev here (Heidi’s Mom), we figured it would be a great place to go for a day trip. As it’s only about three hours drive, it’s not too painful. It also gives us a chance to see how the car handles five passengers instead of our usual four. Heidi smartly decided to reserve a two-bedroom hotel room so we weren’t driving home late at night. Rooms in Gibraltar were very expensive, so she found an affordable place in Spain about 20 minutes away from the border. Our plan was to leave Alumuñécar early (7-ish), and get to Gibraltar relatively early, so we could spend as much time possible. I don’t know if you are aware, but Gibraltar is tiny. Actually, tiny is probably a bit on the large side in describing it. Teeny is probably a better word. It’s less than 3 square miles!
We left our apartment around 7:15, picked up Bev, and started driving. It was raining, and a holiday weekend, so I wasn’t sure how crowded the roads would be. As it turned out, traffic was very light, but once we were on the motorway, the rain really started to come down. It was so bad, that Heidi had to slow down to about 3/4 speed. Luckily, the deluge didn’t last long, and we were back up to full speed after 15 minutes or so. We stopped about half-way there for a bio-break, and to get some snacks, and we were back on the road. Along the way, the hills and roads had snow on them. At first, it didn’t register with me that it was actually snow that was on the road. It was too warm, and the altitude was too low (hundreds of feet). The area must have had some freak weather storm that dumped a sizable amount of snow on the ground. The mountains in the distance were absolutely gorgeous. We made good time, and were able to check into our room around 10AM. This let us drop off the stuff we didn’t need, so we weren’t carrying absolutely everything in the car. Once checked-in, we were back on the road.
It turns out that driving into Gibraltar on a Andalusian holiday is a great idea. As I recall, it took us about 10 minutes to get to the crossover point. The border agent asked to see our passports, and waved us in. No muss, no fuss. We crossed the airport runway, and made our way to The Rock. Gibraltar is so small, they have a stop light for the airport runway. Next stop, The Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Getting around a (less than) 3 square kilometers was pretty easy, and we made our way to the admission gate without any problems.
Side Note #1: One of the things you get used to here in Spain (when you’re not completely fluent in Spanish), is that when you go to buy something, or you know you’re going to interact with a local, there’s a bit of a tense-up. It’s not major, but at least for me, I try to plan my conversation ahead. It makes it easier for me that way. Heidi may be different.
Heidi needed to get out of the car to pay for tickets. And guess what? They spoke English! Now I know you knew that, but when you get used to hearing Spanish, it can throw you a bit when you hear English. She got back to the car and said, “I actually understood everything they said.”
Anya was walking down the hill with a bag of Cheese Puffs. I warned her that she needed to finish eating before we got to the monkeys, because if they saw she had food, they would steal it from her. I’ve seen America’s Funniest Home Videos enough to know this. We packaged up the food, and put it in the backpack, and went to say “Hi” to the monkeys.
Side Note #2: I love my mother-in-law Bev. And she knows it. But I will confess that for a split-second, I thought of playing a joke on her. Only a split-second. I was thinking that it would be a great video if I grabbed some of those Cheese Puffs, and threw them on her while we were near the monkeys, and then watch as the bedlam ensues. Again, a split-second. And since I’m being all honest, and confessing, I actually chuckled out loud at the thought. Come on! That would have been absolutely hysterical! Plus the $250 I could have made from the AFHV people would have been icing on the cake.
But I didn’t do it. I just thought about it, and laughed. Next time I come to Gibraltar, I’ll bring someone I don’t like that much and a full bag of Cheese Puffs, and I’ll take video. I promise.
When we made our way downto the monkeys, they were very cute. They were doing the monkey grooming thing, and looking at us indifferently. I was surprised at how close you could get. I didn’t know it, but the Barbary macaques are quite famous. The mom/dad couple were doing the grooming thing, and an adolescent looking monkey came by to check us out.
These little monkeys are adorable when they’re doing their monkey thing. They look at you with those human-like eyes as if to say, “You got any food?” Sometimes it was a little creepy, but they can run around the trees/ledges like nobody’s business. As we were walking to the next attraction, the adolescent monkey followed us a bit, and then went to visit another group of people coming down the street.