Before I met Scott, I had gone transatlantic one other time in 2011 totally solo. I did a five week long, faculty lead, summer study abroad in Greece. After my time in Greece, I spent a week and a half in England with one of my best friends, Kirsty (she did a year long exchange at Washington State University when I was a freshman and we became life long besties). Our 2016 trip to Europe was due to end in England because if I go transatlantic I MUST see my Kirsty. However, what I was NOT expecting, was to have a miniature British excursion while still on the Spain portion of this European exploration.
For those of you that don’t know, Gibraltar is a British territory located on the Southern coast of Spain. It includes 2.6 square miles and is surrounded by gorgeous coast lines. I knew that Gibraltar was a British territory before this excursion, but I thought that it would still feel like Spain. I was 100% WRONG. As soon as you cross the borders (which are fairly high security), you are literally in the United Kingdom. You have to switch to the other side of the road when driving, all of the signs immediately switch from Spanish to English, and, even though you’ve only gone a few feet geographically, I swear everyone is suddenly 5 shades more pale.
The first thing we did after the long bus ride and a tedious border crossing, was find a pub to have a bite of breakfast. This was our second British restaurant (Málaga was full of them as it’s a popular British vacation spot) in as many days and Scott’s family was ready to give proper British breakfast a second chance. British breakfast includes beans, baked tomatoes, sausage, mushrooms and some other seemingly random items. The first time they tried this they were confused and not so impressed. The second time…not much better. Having been to England before, I knew what to get that would be delicious and not at all “breakfast-y”, FISH AND CHIPS, of course! British fish and chips are the best, served in a paper bag or not, my mouth is watering right now.
After the pub we walked the narrow streets of a very not-Spanish looking downtown and journeyed toward one of the southernmost points in all of Europe. Supposedly, we would be able to peer out over the ocean and see the mountains of Morocco. The possibility of seeing Africa for the first time was super exciting!
We passed gorgeous (and very European looking) buildings the closer we got to the ocean.
Before we knew it, the land was dropping away into the sea. Huge rocky cliffs rose out of dark teal waters that were crashing against the stony faces.
A lighthouse marked the end of our march South and the point at which we could stare through the fog towards the Northern coast of Africa. Unfortunately, the fog was too think on this particular morning, but we certainly tried to imagine ourselves seeing the peaks of the Moroccan mountains.
The most substantial landmark in this territory is called The Rock of Gibraltar. Our next tour would take us up the narrow roads of the rock to one of the famous limestone caves named St. Michael’s Cave. This particular cave has additions of stairways and paths for easy touring and is even the site of intimate concerts due to the awe-inspiring natural acoustics. The most exciting part of the tour, however, happened before we even stepped foot into the cave. While approaching the entrance to the cave in our van, a monkey jumped onto the hood of the vehicle and came in through the driver’s window! Much to our surprise, the driver and the monkey knew one another and the monkey reached into the driver’s shirt pocket to pull out a cookie that he knew would be waiting for him. We then had the opportunity to get out of the van and spend time with dozens of wild (though fairly used to tourists and their tasty treats) monkeys.
Finally, it was time to climb our way into St. Michael’s Cave. Architects have added effect to this particular cave with uplighting, but the magnificent stalactites and stalagmites would have been jaw dropping regardless.
The Rock of Gibraltar is one of the highest points for miles, upon exiting the cave, we were afforded some views of the town and harbor below us. We even saw one of our primate cousins enjoying the same sights.
Our next excursion takes us to the ancient wine city of Ronda. Reliving these moments with Scott and my future in-laws is so fun for me and I hope my readers enjoy it, too! If you have any questions about anything we saw or did in these beautiful places write me a comment! Until next time 🙂