Paul in Europe 2012 travel blog











We had a light breakfast at our hotel, loaded up all the luggage in the car, and headed for Gibraltar. (Why do I hear strains of The Beverly Hillbillies in my head?) The trip over wasn't too long, took a couple of hours. Southern Spain is beautiful country. It looks a little like SoCal. We knew we were getting close to the border into Gibraltar when we found ourselves in a crazy line. It snaked down one side of the round-about, and when we thought we had about reached the entrance, the line turned back around and headed back the other way. Crazy traffic. At one point, a guy came walking past and tapped on dad's window. He opened it before I could say, "Just wave him past." The guy asked if we were going to Gibraltar. Yes, dad answered. 20 Euros, the guy demanded and tapped the glass like he was going to put a sticker on the window. Dad thought a minute and said, I have no idea who you are. I'm not giving you 20 Euros. So, the guy walked on back down the line. Wow, that is one gutsy con man.

I suspect it took about an hour to snake our way into Gibraltar. It is a colony of the UK, and from what they told us, one the UK would like to find a way to "de-colonize." But Gibraltarans are happy with their status and have no interest in becoming independent or being ceded to Spain, so the situation remains. The city has about 30,000 inhabitants and many more visitors than that every day. We started to make the drive up the "rock," then decided finding food would be a good call. Dad said he really wasn't hungry, but, then again, he wasn't driving.

Finding parking was a bear, but I pulled into a parking garage and did find a place. We wandered into a little fish and chips place and felt like we could have been sitting in the middle of London.

The trek up the mountain was a little creepy. Think Pikes Peak. Narrow roads with 1000 foot drop on one side and mountain on the other. Of course, I was driving a manual transmission. I handle it pretty well, but had visions of accidentally backing it off the side of a cliff. Tour buses whizzed up the mountain and passed us whenever they could. Yikes.

We wandered into some of the battlements and looked at some of the ruins, but I think Dad's favorite part was talking to an old Gibralaran who told him stories from the Colonial War days (um, we usually call that the War of Independence) up to the Cold War. Fascinating stuff really. Gibraltar basically controls all traffic in and out of the Mediterranian Sea. They know who is slipping in under the cover of darkness and who is trying to sneak a sub into the sea. Although not as much sneaking now I suppose.

Crossing back into Spain was not nearly as time-intensive as getting into Gibraltar. But by the time we headed on toward Cadiz it was about 6:00 p.m. We were looking at arriving in Cadiz at about 8 p.m. and then having to find a hotel. As it turned out,the hotel we have stayed at in Tarifa was on the road to Cadiz. Small world. Or, um, small South of Spain. In any case, we decided to see if they would take us in for another night. It was cheap and we didn't have to go looking for a new place. So, we unloaded everything again and spent another evening wandering Tarifa.

I'm glad we had another evening in Tarifa. I had finally sold mom and dad on the idea of some pizza. It was amazing. Then, we wandered the old town of Tarifa a bit. Very unique place. Full of color. Found an old church, San Mateo. A plaque said it was built in 1536 on the site of an older church that was built in 1295. It looked a little aged. Though I think the purple and pink altar may have been a newer addition.

This morning we are headed on to Cadiz. Should be fun. They say it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, though I think I've heard the same of other places. I guess we'll see.

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