Monday, March 3, 2014

Tarifa and Gibraltar: last stops before a whole new world.

When you're THAT close to Gibraltar, you kind of have to go, right?

(That was our reasoning anyway. And then we heard there were Barbary macaques. That sealed the deal.)

We took the bus from Tarifa to La Linea and walked across the border (#3 on foot!). The officers shot a sideways glance at our passports and waved us through, and we crossed the active airplane landing strip to town.

first active airplane landing strip crossing

This bizarre UK oasis has its own currency, a downtown of fancy strip malls, and expats everywhere. 

thirty thousand of them, approximately

it also has churros y cafes
at an Indian restaurant
(of course)

We did the £10 Gibraltar tour which included visits to...
  • a Moorish castle, remaining fortifications of which date back to the 1100s - although the original fortifications came even earlier under the reign of Tarik-ibn-Zeyad
fun with downward spirals

  • "Gibraltar, a City Under Seige" - a bizarre life sized diorama of sorts, set among original buildings from the 1700s and presenting a day in the life during a siege (apparently it was quite boring)
but to keep things interesting
there were floggings
and low rations of food

  • the Great Seige Tunnels, a series of tunnels in the rocks created by gunpowder and manual labor, used for fortification during seiges
the tunnels went on and on and on -
pretty amazing

  • the Ape's Den featuring those wacky Barbary macaques

oh hai

  • St Michael's Cave, a natural grotto intended for use as a hospital during WWII

now it's an amphitheater...

... Pink Floyd played here once

And that's just what you get for £10. Gibraltar is far bigger than we thought, and there is so much more to it (including naturally occurring, man-made, and historically) than we realized.

and here we thought it was just a rock

For another £8 we could've toured more war tunnels but we opted to just explore the trails for a bit instead...

when you go your way and I'll go mine

And we ascended and descended a lot of stairs.

a LOT of stairs

What a strange, strange place, this tiny little rock that everyone fights over. Now we know.

Back in Tarifa we watched the waves and caught the sunsets and decided it would be a great place to visit in the summer.

surf's up

winter or not, sunsets were still lovely 

next time: kitesurfing lessons

oh, and they have a bullring -

Definitely glad we stayed in Tarifa instead of Algeciras (which Lonely Planet describes as "an industrial town, a big fishing port and a centre for drug smuggling"). Um... no.

Food notes:
  • Halal K2 Doner Kebab & Pizza in Tarifa sounds like an odd choice but it was actually quite good
  • and the aforementioned churros at an Indian restaurant whose name I cannot locate (just follow the signs!)
  • otherwise sandwiches and lots of salad to counteract all the bread
  • and we finally ate the package of instant borscht we've been carrying around since Poland
it was just as salty and beety
as we remembered

Lodging notes: Tarifa's Melting Pot Hostel was fine for a few nights. The kitchen could have been cleaner but the guy who worked there was really nice, we had lots of space, and the price was right.

(this was a nice touch)

And it was a five minute walk to the ferry the next morning...

to Morocco!!


  1. Obi Wan Kenobi once described Algeciras as a "wretched hive of scum and villainy"

  2. The more we see about Gibraltar, the more we want to go there. Thanks for the great pictures and post!

    1. This comment got lost all those years ago - sorry! I hope you were able to go! It's a strange but neat little place.