From Prague To Atlantic Coasts XII.
11day (Thursday) - „Conquest of Gibraltar“
Early morning, we left for Algeciras, main port for connection of Spain with Africa. This town has 100 thousands of inhabitants, and is most in south placed Spanish locality and of the whole Euirope at the same time. We wished to use this locality as our rebounding point for the excursion to Gibraltar.
According to GPS navigation, the trip was not longer as 100 kilometres. However, when we arrived to Algeciras, we had again problems with GPS orientation, as a network of one-way streets confused us perfectly. At least, we discovered right way and had also good luck that we found parking place close to the hostel. Nevertheless, we had to look for it as just such Algeciras-quarter where we were, was full of such places of accommodation, including hotels. Finally, we found ourselves in front of rather concealed building, and were welcome by old man, accompanied by Labrador-dog. We were very surprised, being informed that unit price for double room with shower and balcony cost EUR 20 only. So, we manifested our satisfaction with such favourablew price and brought our luggage inside.
Owing to the fact that, as usually, burning heat dominated outside again, we decided that an excursion to Gibraltar could be postponed till the evening. In the meantime, we got the energy, absorbed by sunshine. We washed out some pieces of our belongings and observed how quickly the clothes got dry, just in front of our eyes.
At two p.m., when great heat was over, we started small sightseeing of the town. The tourists, we passed, had the same intention as we had: to get the accdommodation close to busy Gibraltar and visit this area in the evening. So, at five p.m., we set out ahead. The drive took 30 minutes approx., as we arrived to La Linea de la Concepcion, Spanish border town. This locality has close economical as well as social connections with neighbouring Gibraltar. If you wish to reach this peninsula by land, you cannot pass La Linea, and you probably would be very nervous in looking for place, regarding parking. If you go by car there and would like to find free parking place in Spanish territory, so, to find free space, not reserved for residents of without parking slot machines (they are quite expensive), could be a miracle. So, after several tens of minutes of circulation, we managed to find some free space (several centimetres wide among two another vehicles) where we finally placed our Škoda Octavia vehicle.
And now, frontier control followed. At Spanish part, personal documents were required.(personal identity cards were sufficient). Before we entered the territory of this mini-state, we had to cross the run-way of Gibraltar airport.
In general, Gibraltar is a rock. Around the rock, high buildings (mostly dwelling houses and commercial offices) as well as low historical houses, placed in „city centre“, could be found. Grand Casemates Square forms, except long main street, bordered along both parts with low houses of 19th century, historical nucleus. Moreover, tourist shops are placed in ground-floor of each such house - starting from goldsmiths´ or dressing shops up to wine shops. The people are always in a hurry, taking their shopping bags (of different world brands). We noticed that local drivers go (probably from spleen) from one part of Gibraltar to the other one, up and down. When we remembered Granada, we found that Gibraltar reminded one great shopping centre in open air.
Frankly speaking, our expectations were higher, and we were rather disappointed to see this scene. But, on the other hand, many houses in historical nucleus took hard British influence, and this had a big effect on us.
Provided you wish to enjoy an outlook or to observe local monkeys (makaks) - Gibraltar is the only place in Europe where these free living monkeys could be observed - you have to climb to the top of the rock, where Upper Rock, nature reservation, could be found. You can go there on foot, or use rope railway. Under favourable weather conditions, (the days are often very clear there) you can see up to African continent - to Morocco. Gibraltar Straits is - according to air line - only 15-20 kilometres wide.
Before we entered British territory, we changed together GBP 10. However, except standard tourist souvenirs, we saw nothing interesting, what would be worth to be bought. Owing to the fact that we felt rather hungry, the solution, whar to buy for pounds, was simple. So, we ordered a dinner inside a kiosk. Jakub asked young girl which served us. She came from Canada, and the work in Gibraltar was only a temporary activity for her, as her original intention to work in Spain was unsuccessfull, owing to bad knowledge of her Spanish. She was, by coincidence, in Prague several months ago, and she liked the stay there very much.
At sunset, we returned to our vehicle, and turned our steps, during dense traffic jam, back to the hostel. In the evening, we walked to Algeciras city centre to drink a beer (small glass of 0,2 l). After short walk throughout narrow and intricated street networks, reminding Granada streets, we returned to our room, which was air-conditioned by means of leased air-shaft, trying to get some new energy for the next day.
Next chapter: Cordoba
Text/photo: Maxim Kucer & Jakub Štantejský
Translation: ing. Jan Jonáš
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