Over the Border

After having spent a great two days in beautiful Ronda, it was time to move on and continue my tour of Andalucia by leaving Spain altogether.

I had booked a train from Ronda to Algeciras so I gathered up my belongings and took a leisurely stroll up to the train station and had a couple of ‘cortados’ there before the train arrived on time and we headed south-west towards the coast.

I’d read beforehand that Algeciras isn’t exactly a highlight of Andalucia and that is, sadly, the case.  It’s a dull, dreary, grimy place with a definite air of the down-at-heel about it.  Still, it was really only a base to get to Gibraltar, so after checking into the place I was staying and wandering around for an hour so, I headed to the bus station to set off for La Linea and the border post.

The bus line M-120 runs every forty-five minutes on a Sunday so I had a bit of time to wait and just hung around the rather basic bus station before paying my €2.45  on board the bus and taking in the forty minute journey to La Linea then walking the five minutes or so down to the border.

Getting through the formalities of crossing into Gibraltar in no time, the first thing I saw was a red British, old fashioned phone box filled with tourists taking selfies.

Moving swiftly on I walked down the main road towards town which, somewhat bizarrely, bisects the runway of the airport in Gib.  It’s quite weird to see traffic lights on the pavement warning you not to proceed down the street because there’s a plane coming in to land.

From this point though I did manage to get some good views of the Rock of Gibraltar with its almost sheer white cliffs aimed firmly at Spain.

Rock
The Rock of Gibraltar as seen from halfway across the airport runway.

Coming further on into the outskirts of the built-up area there were quite a few more modern apartment buildings in view as I passed the rock’s only football stadium, before I headed up into the older part of town.

Walking through the gates known as Grand Casemate Gates I came into a nice square filled with bars and restaurants and the rock looming over everything but decided to leave the eating and drinking until later.

Casemates
Casemates Square in the old part of Gibraltar.

Carrying on I came along the rather scenic and somewhat quaint Main Street, now mainly a shopping boulevard, which was a bit of a strange feeling.  Old fashioned Spanish style architecture surmounted both sides of a street filled with shops which are familiar on any UK high street.  M&S, Lloyds Bank etc. were all there, as was a now-defunct branch of BHS.

Main Street
Main Street is now mainly a shopping and entertainment area.

Wandering along here I began to realise that I was in fact really tired and after the initial buzz of being in a rather bizarre little part of the UK located next door to southern Spain wore off fairly quickly, I just wanted to sit down somewhere, have a bite to eat and a drink and watch the tourists and locals alike flock past.

I came across a pub called the Horseshoe, with the lettering on the sign exactly the same as its more illustrious namesake in Glasgow (formerly a favourite watering hole of mine), so the decision of where to eat and drink was an easy one to make.

Horseshoe
The Horseshoe pub in Gibraltar’s Main Street, just like Glasgow, but with sun and tables outside.

I wandered inside to get out of the heat and found myself in a boozer that was just like any I could find all over the British Isles.  Lots of military memorabilia, of course, with Gibraltar being a big armed forces town, but otherwise just like anywhere else.

Not being in Spain now I could quite safely order up a pint of IPA without feeling like one of those awful tourists in Spain who go to Benidorm because they can get fish ‘n’ chips there.  So I had a pint of IPA and a plate of lasagne.

Rather than perking me up this just made me feel even more lethargic, so I just sat there quite happily and had another couple of IPA’s before deciding that rather than force myself to wander around the town I’d head back to Algeciras and get an early night before setting off early the next day for Granada.

I walked back out to La Linea past more of the modern buildings on the edges of town and over the airport runway again, waited for the M-120 and then once back in Algeciras grabbed a bottle of plonk to scoff in the room while watching some football match or other and retired early.

Algeciras?  Forget it.  One to be missed if you’re in this neck of the woods.  Gibraltar?  Worth it for the novelty value alone.  If you’re feeling fit and refreshed I’m pretty sure there are plenty of things worth doing and seeing there.  I just wasn’t feeling up to it to be honest, but I’m still glad I made it, if only to say I’ve been there.

Remain
Gibraltarians made their views crystal clear in the recent referendum, so well done the ‘outers’ who let down the most patriotic Brits of all.
Blocks
The balconies of one of the apartment blocks in the sun on the outskirts of Gibraltar.
Runway
Clouds beyond the runway, as taken from the road halfway across.