Rishi Sankar: Ah Trini Travelogue

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Rainy days with Gibraltar’s best tour guide

Posted by Rishiray on February 25, 2010


Getting to the Rock was such a long process to figure out, with the little information online about getting to Gibraltar from Sevilla. There is a deliberate ploy by the Spanish to block out tourism and access to Gibraltar which includes stalling vehicles at a porous border, ensuring lineups to leave Gibraltar as well as not having any signs outside La Linea to indicate the presence of the British territory.

Sometimes, you’re lucky on your travels to meet people that make it all worthwhile to travel somewhere new, share a beer or two and talk about the differences and similarities of your respective cultures. I assume that Gibraltareans speak Queen’s English and Spanish fluently (after having a pint or two of Fosters in a local pub and listening to everyone speak), having a composite culture of reflecting their’ diverse origins. The primary influences are Spanish and British influences, a result of the territory’s status as a British overseas territory and its proximity to Spain but the ethnic origins of most Gibraltarians are a mix of Andalusian Spaniards, Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese and British.

After passing through the border and walking across the miltary airport runway, I headed up into the Main Square. The runway is something out of Caye Caulker or some other small island, in that there is free access to the runway and to block off access when flights are coming in, they drop a security barrier on either side of the road. Instant runway.

Heading into town is as simple as walking through customs, past the runway and down the Queensway, make left at the roundabout by Coral Road, head directly up Main Street into the Main Square. It’s like directions in Trinidad, I was even told to use a Blue Honda Civic as a reference point, because one guy who gave me directions, parked it there in the morning and wasn’t going back home till much later in the evening.

After walking through the rain and wind for about an hour, I had managed to procure walking directions to the top of the Rock, a marriage solicitation, met an Italian girl also traveling and almost bought a new 10-20mm lens for my camera at duty free prices (I resisted the temptation because I couldn’t review the specs on the 10-20mm lens without a laptop). I also reached the South gate and there I met Adrian Caetano offering the opportunity for a tour of the Rock. It was cold and rainy and I really didn’t want to climb up for 2 1/2 hours in the wind to see the top, especially when it was cloudy at the top.

It was the end of the day and Adrian and I negotiated a fair price for the abbreviated tour, luckily a Spanish couple came along with me, which drove the price down significantly and we were off.  Our short tour consisted of the following stops

  • Photo opportunity at the Pillars of Hercules
  • A stopoff with the Apes at the top – which was really fun even though I didn’t play with a monkey … it was more fun chasing them around to get a good picture . The Apes are in fact a tail-less breed of monkey, (Macaca Silvanus) whose natural habitat is in the mountains of Morocco and Algeria. They were most probably first brought here by the British in the early eighteenth century. The earliest written record of the apes in Gibraltar dates back to 1740. Legend has it that the apes are a symbol of British sovereignty and if they go the British will leave Gibraltar, “That’s why we have to feed them”. When their numbers diminished during WWII, Sir Winston Churchill gave strict orders that a minimum of 24 should be maintained.
  • Views at the lower level overlooking Gibraltar and the town itself and outside the trail for the caves.

  • Finally, it was time to head back down to town. Adrian and I went out for drinks after and he is definitely someone who loves his job, and takes it seriously. I’ve never met a tour guide with a more encyclopedia knowledge of his home town and area – the only other tour guide I’ve met in my travels with such detailed local knowledge was Professor Mansour Albari, who gave tours of Jerusalem in 6 languages and taught history at the University of Tel Aviv.After about couple pints and much chat about the history and politics of Gibraltar, he dropped me off back my hotel in La Linea – no charge and it was off to explore La Linea at night. As a tour guide, I highly recommend him and his services.

La Linea at night is very sleepy and the main square had very few people, of course the crappy weather didn’t contribute to anything. You can see what the view from the top looks like from my trusty Canon T1.

Hopefully, there will be some better weather tomorrow, leaving Gibraltar and heading into Tarifa and Fes.

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No Responses Yet to “Rainy days with Gibraltar’s best tour guide”

  1. Thanks for providing interesting guide. Awesome writing style .Creative mind!

  2. Nice stuff. Thanks for flaunt.

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