Cycling Up the Rock of Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a weird place. It is a tiny piece of land jutting out at the bottom of the Iberian peninsula that belongs to the UK. How did that happen? Wikipedia says “An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. The territory was subsequently ceded to Britain ‘in perpetuity’ under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.”

The first weird thing about Gibraltar is the way it’s set up. From Spain, you drive through a little booth where you have to show your passport, and then along a road that crosses the airport runway (every time a plane lands, they have to shut down this road, obviously). Once you’ve crossed the runway, you are close to the central town area.

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The next weird thing about Gibraltar is just how very British it is. People are incredibly well spoken and are constantly apologizing for everything. There are British pubs and even a British supermarket. I wasn’t expecting the culture shock.

When people think of Gibraltar, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Rock of Gibraltar. This enormous, iconic monolith conceals a labyrinth of tunnels, built during the Great Siege of Gibraltar in 1779-1783 and used again during World War II. On top, there is a nature reserve. In the nature reserve, there are monkeys.

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When I got back from England, Mike picked me up at the airport and took me back to La Linea de la Conception on the Spanish side of the border, where our buses were parked. Parking on the inside of Gibraltar is limited, and the streets quite narrow, so sleeping on the outside was the best option. We wanted to spend the day checking out the city though, so the next day we hopped on our bicycles and headed off to the top of the rock.

Crossing the border:

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Arrived. The city part of Gibraltar was nice, but what we really wanted to do was see the Rock.

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Warning not to feed the monkeys. We found out later exactly why bringing food around these guys was a bad idea…

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They’re pretty cute though.

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At the entrance to the tunnels.

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View from above!

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The path was steep as hell but we made it to the top.

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Philipp is a psychopath.

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Monkeys!

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The monkeys figured out that Philipp was carrying some rolls in his pocket and things didn’t go so well after that.

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The monkeys chased him down and and one of them grabbed the bread out of his pocket. Philipp seized onto it as the monkey was pulling it away and a Philipp vs Monkey tug of war. The monkey won.

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They stalked us all the way back down the rock, waiting to pounce again looking for more food, which was pretty uncomfortable. Just look at that face…

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We made it back down our buses, sweaty and gross but happy. While I was away. Philipp found a light that says “today is a good day”. He screwed it on to a piece of wood and hung it up in the front of the bus. This has become our new mantra. I think it’s a good one.

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