Monday, March 3, 2014

Gibraltar: Choice Chunk of Beautiful Spain, In The British Suburbs

Stunning views back at Spain - from the top of "The Rock"
The first person I met told me point-blank, Gibraltar may be a country – but it’s really just a town. A place where everyone knows your business, people are generally friendly… but strange as well because it’s also bilingual – where you often hear Spanglish! Yet don't be fooled that this equates to sophistication – it’s just a way of life. However, what Gibraltar lacks in high culture, it makes up in sheer natural beauty: from the daring seclusion of the Mediterranean Steps to incredible vistas from the top of "the Rock" a trip here is worth at least 24 hours! Furthermore, what’s convenient is you can comfortably walk around the entire country in one day - just remember, this is a different country, you need your passport!

While views from the top of "the Rock" provide the best photo-ops, the “look at me mom” moment comes first when you walk across a working runway to enter the country! Whether you drive in, take the bus or walk, as I did, you’ll have to cross Gibraltar International's runway! Flights cut off traffic in and out of the “country” for about 15 minutes anytime a plane lands; it's only place in the world where you’ll get to cross paths with planes!

Gibraltar's runway separates the
country from Spain
Up in the clouds, you can take in the entire runway on one end and Morocco on the other, all within an hours walk. I don’t recommend anyone to take the cable car (unless you are physically challenged in some way). The best way to see the mountain and all its beautiful views is by foot – it takes less than an hour to go up, if you don’t stop at the sights (which you will). Enjoy fascinating history of the Great Siege tunnels (firing canon inside a mountain sounds dangerous!), photograph the quaint Moorish Castle, and of course, get harassed by Europe's only population of monkeys– some of whom will now be deported! really hates on Gibraltar in their post, as if you would come here just to visit animals! The monkeys act only as a fun distraction from the true beauty of the location. Plus, they are cunning! As I updated Instagram with my latest self-pic – one clever monkey grabbed & rifled through my bag. I grabbed it back – but not before he knew an avocado lie inside! Afterwards, I only later realized, he lay in wait at the top of the only exit to the viewpoint. Unknowingly, I took pictures of the cute guy from afar – not knowing he only waited to steal from me!

Cunning mono waits at the exit to take my food!
Finally, after taking enough photos – (the best views are certainly not from the very top) departed the top of the peak. I took another picture of the monkey sitting atop the stairwell and swung my bag behind me. As if taking a cue, as I descended the stairs, the monkey joined me, jumped onto my bag, and pulled out the bag with avocado. I struggled and ripped it out of his hands – this cunning monkey would not be rewarded for his guile! Later, I ate that avocado. Perhaps he needed it more – but I refuse to reward those who only steal…

Then again – maybe I should have offered it as a reward for all those fun photo-ops – but I felt more harassed than be-friended by these kinda-cute but pretty-disgusting animals. Let’s face it – I’m not exactly Ace Ventura.


Saturday evening my new (gay) friend – who works as a virtual BlackJack dealer, at an online gambling casino – took me out to  Casemates Square, where veryone who wants to be social joins together weekend (and weekday) nights. At the "best bar"we found a “hen” party. I’ll go ahead and express how strange this British-English term is to me – but the term is nothing like the horror I felt at witnessing this mess of drunken, 35 + women. Nonetheless they clearly had the time of their lives, singing karaoke to anything – including Christmas carols. My friend had starred in Gibraltar’s version of American Idol – Gibraltar’s Got Talent (he's in the center of this cover pic) – so he wanted to show off his singing skills. Eventually he got his chance – and did well when he wasn’t being harassed by the chavs!

Gayographer finds a place to set the self-timer...
Literally next door to the “grown-up” bar kids between the ages of 8 to 17 hung around outside next door – like an adult playground with kids socializing and carrying on. I’ve never seen so many kids hanging around together at once not playing a game or, individually, video games! I’m pretty sure I related better to this group than drunken adults!

There is one true gay-bar - Charlie's Hole in the Wall - perhaps this article gives his place justice, but according to my friend, it's only really open when a cruise ship stops through. Of course, social media “opportunities” abound – but certainly not great ones. Generally, if you’re between the ages of 18-30 it's likely you've left for more excitement elsewhere. Except - not surprisingly in a location with a great clash of cultures - Gibraltar has done well recently in beauty, Maroua Kharbouch came close to winning Miss World and Miss Universe! Residents may leave, but likely return yearly - especially in the winter - to enjoy the sun and take in the beautiful views.

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