Going Ape!

Posted by on 31, Mar 2015 in 2015 - Iberia and Morocco, Europe, Gibraltar, Taffy, Western Europe

Going Ape!

‎We got our money from Nat West as Barclays ATM was out of order and popped into M&S to see if they had any Cornish crackler, they didn’t so we went to Morrisons to get cheddar, passing numerous vans advertising Strongbow, John Smiths, McVities and Walkers crisps, sent a couple of post cards from a the Royal Mail Post Office, avoided all the cafes selling Bacon and Eggs and British Fish and Chips, made sure we said ‘Gor Blimey Govnor’ a lot and asked a British Bobby what the time was. Welcome to Gibraltar, a little England in a sea of Spain. This is a weird but delightful little island (oops it’s not an island as Jon was sternly told by A Major General (Ghurkas Retired) but certainly will be if climate change raises the sea more than an inch!

It’s the only country we’ve cycled around in a day (twice) and walked to the highest peak of, where the check out girls at Morrisons switch seamlessly from a broad Newcastle accented English to Spanish and where you can cross the border from Spain, then have to cycle over the main airport runway in between landing planes to get to the town.

It’s very British and very Spanish at the same time, though nearly all the food is aimed at the cruise ships bangers and mash brigade ‎and wasn’t our cup of tea, old chap.

It’s a very friendly place (apart from the border where apparently there’s a huge risk from tandem smuggling as we were stopped numerous times, unlike the Range Rovers and BMW’s) and crossing the border in a car is an exercise in frustration as the controls are slow and if a plane is about to land or take off then nothing moves for 10 minutes leading to continuous horn blasting on the Spanish Side. But have a tandem (that you’re smuggling in, obviously) and you sail past all the drivers accompanied by a few thousand mopeds , slowing the cars down even more. At rush hour the queues to get out of Gibraltar were enormous and quite frankly there can’t have been many people left in the town there were so many cars leaving.

We’d thought we’d have a go at cycling to the top of the Rock, but having cycled around it and encountered some frighteningly steep hills decided to walk instead. On the way a female bus drivers had to get out and tell a British builder to reverse down a hill and take a run up as he’d got stuck and his wheels just span and span. Very amusing as she yelled out of the window “Jonny, Jonny, no no no!”

The walk was lovely but hard work and we managed to see the famous siege and WW2 tunnels before encountering the Apes who promptly tried to steel our wrapped ice creams at the top. I managed to snatch them off the table moments before ‎one of the monkeys had run into the cafe, jumped on the table and lunged for them. “You’ll have to be quicker than that” I told him and he gave me a stare and grin that said “I’ll see you outside pal”. Oops. But as we’d been walking for a while we sat in the cafe till he got bored and he boldly ran in opened a cupboard and knicked a packet of Walkers and legged it outside to sit happily mushing on his Salt and Vinegars much to the annoyance of the poor sales assistant. All the food cabinets have locks to stop the monkeys but we were told that they have tried to wheel the entire cabinet out on one occasion. And that their favourite pastime in the summer is to sit on the roof above the cafe exit swiping magnum ice creams from the tourists, though you’re safe if you’ve a cornetto as they don’t like them as much!

When we finally reached the top we were past by a cyclist – “Perhaps we’ll have a go next time?” I asked Linda but only recieved a look that made the pilfering monkeys look positively welcoming. With Happy Hour on the Quay down in the town beckoning we did the only decent thing and wimped out and took the cable car down and retired to the harbour side bars to enjoy Margheritas and VegeSausage ‎Baguette whilst the sun set and our feet relaxed.

That’s it for Europe, next stop Africa and Morocco.

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