30 November 2008

Peter Brown Called To Say

Monday morning, we are up before the crack of dawn for a day trip to Gibraltar. The whole day I will be singing "The Ballad Of John & Yoko" in my head - and occasionally out loud - but that's another story...

While waiting to be picked up at our resort's entrance, we met two guys from Phoenix. Mr. Phone and Mr. Engineer. They are two friends like us using up timeshare points before they expire. We chat about the other day trips we have planned and they run in to the concierge to sign up for the day trip to Ronda that we have scheduled for tomorrow. We also learn that they will be with us on our trip to Tangier on Thursday.

We board the bus and we meet an American family from Virginia Beach. Dentist dad, travel agent mom, student daughter and snowboard daughter. We learn that they are on the trip to Tangier on Thursday also. They are staying at the Marriot down the beach as they are Marriot owners.

Our guide tells us that we don't have to change money. In Gibraltar, most every place will take Euro or US dollars and those that won't will take plastic. But we should always check before eating or purchasing anything, just in case. (The currency is the Gibraltar Pound which is equivalent to the Pound Sterling but only accepted in Gibraltar. They take Pound Sterling also.) We decide to use Euros or Visa.

At the P&T stop, I chat a little bit more with our new American friends. They are all very friendly and nice.

Crossing the border, we all have to show our passports to Spanish police and then again to British police, but nothing gets stamped.

Then we drive across the airport runway to enter Gibraltar. Our large bus drives to the Visitor Centre wher we board two smaller buses. One is German & English and the other is Spanish & English. We opt for the Spanish bus as do all our new friends. It turns out that the Spanish couple is pretty fluent in English so out guide mostly does the tour in English and only explains things in Spanish as needed.

We head off for our tour of the Rock. We head first to Point Europa which is the closest point to Africa. The coolest thing there (which I unfortunately did NOT get a photo of) was half a tanker aground on the rocks. Apparently, it broke in half when thrown on the rocks during a fierce storm. It's still there.

Then we head up to St. Michael's Cave. The whole Rock is made of limestone so there are many caves, but St. Michael's is enormous and was cleared for use as a hospital during Word War 2. It was never needed so now it is used for concerts.

After that, we went to the Apes Den for a scheduled look at the Barbary Macaques. We had seen them around the Cave as well. They are the only wild Primates in Europe.

At the Apes Den' we saw the Cable Car up to the top of the Rock, but we didn't go up there ourselves. Then we headed down past the Moorish Castle, City Hall (where John & Yoko got married) and through the town to Grand Casements Square where we left the minibus behind for lunch or shopping.

T & I headed out of the very tourist-y Square and strolled down the High Street to see what sparked our fancy. We came across The Star Bar which claims to be the oldest Pub in Gibraltar. Legend has it that Columbus stopped there on his way to discover America! We had a lovely lunch of fish & chips (with malt vinegar!), lamp chops (with brown sauce!), stout & cider.

Then we headed back to the Visitor Centre, shopping a bit along the way.

Back on our large bus, back across the airport runway. Then we had to exit the bus to go through Customs on both sides of the border (but still no stamps). We boarded the bus and headed back to our hotel.

Mr. Phone, Mr. Engineer, T & I stopped back at the concierge to check on our Ronda trip for the next day. Alas, it had been cancelled. We were the only people who signed up. We inquired about the Granada trip and that was booked full for Tuesday and Wednesday. The guys were going to Seville on Wednesday so we signed up for that trip and it was confirmed right then. Then we asked the concierge for suggestions for what to do on Tuesday. He suggested that we go to Ronda on the public bus. He provided us with the bus schedule into Marbella and we decided to think it over.

Later, at Happy Hour, we ran into the guys and they said they were thinking about Ronda for tomorrow. They asked what time we were leaving. We said we didn't know, but we would try to leave early. They headed off for dinner. We chatted with the barmen for awhile and then went back to our condo for dinner and some BBC.

Tomorrow, we will try our Amazing Ronda Bus Adventure en Espanol!

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