We drove to the city of Algeciras to buy our ferry tickets to Morocco and for a day trip to Gibraltar. Algeciras is an industrial town with little interest to the traveler except for those heading to or from North Africa. Coming from Cádiz, the entrance to the city is graced by a statue of the great guitarist Paco de Lucía, a native algecireño.
Gibraltar is a short drive from the port of Algeciras. The one and only road leading into the peninsula crosses the runway of the airport and when a plane is either approaching the airport or in position for take off, the road is closed by a crossing guard arm similar to the ones used on railroad crossings. The picture was taken just before crossing the border and after we watched the landing of the Easyjet flight.
Europa Point is the southernmost tip of Gibraltar. It is the site of a shrine that houses a 15th century statue of Mary and Child that was miraculously unscathed during a destructive pirate attack. I so wanted to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe and see this treasure but it was midday and the doors were closed. We then proceeded to the observation deck where we got a glimpse at northern Africa, some 15 miles away. Europa Point is also the site of the largest mosque outside a non-Islamic country. It was built in 1997 at the behest of the King of Saudi Arabia to serve the Muslim population who did not have a place of worship in Gibraltar. While we were there, we heard the call for prayer coming from the loudspeakers located high on the minaret.
The Apes' Den is home to the tailless Barbary Macaque. Reportedly there are 240 apes roaming free around the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Legend has it that the territory will remain under British rule for as long as the apes remain in the peninsula. When numbers were at their lowest during WWII, reinforcements were brought in from Morocco. We tried to get a good shot of the apes but they were more interested in finding lunch than posing for the camera.
We spent the rest of the day walking around Gibraltar Town, eating fish and chips and listening to the Gibraltarians who spoke "llanito", a dialect of Andalusian Spanish heavily influenced by English and other Mediterranean languages. In the early evening hours, we strolled through the pedestrian only streets. Gibraltar is a duty-free shopper’s paradise and it seems to be the shopping mecca of the western Mediterranean. Main Street and the adjoining lanes are chock-full of shops selling the typical items found on duty-free shops — jewellery, sunglasses, cameras, electronic items, glassware, porcelain, perfumes, leather goods, silks, and cashmere. We did a bit of window shopping but did not make any purchases since that required paying in British pounds (unfavorable exchange rate). I came across the post office and would have loved to send myself a postcard but found it closed.
In the early evening hours we drove to the town of Tarifa from where we were to take the ferry to Tangiers early the next morning. I took this picture of the Strait of Gibraltar with the Moroccan coast in the background the following day just before boarding the ferry.