Thursday, September 04, 2014

Gibraltar, UK: Day 11

Today was a long day.  I'm actually writing this the day after because I went back to the hotel and passed out.  I've never been to England proper, but this is the second time that I've been to Gibraltar, which is an English territory.  That sort of counts and I've been to Heathrow on a layover.  It's good enough for me since I don't really have the desire to go to England.  One day I'll visit, I'm sure, but for now, there are so many other places in the world that I would go. Greece!  Maybe for our next great adventure. 

Since we were really tired of laying around all day sleeping, we took a road trip to the Rock of Gibraltar.  It was only about an hour and a half from Costa Del Sol where our Marriott is located.  Once we got there the picture taking commenced.  The rock itself doesn't look like much, but it's really pretty spectacular.  Nick later pointed out that it's really just a rock.  Very little dirt and just a giant hunk of stone coming out of the water.  The location is perfect for a military base, which is what the rock is known for...aside from the monkeys. 

Before heading across the border, we stopped at a McDonalds for a little bite.  I got a bacon McMuffin like I did in Barcelona and a sausage McMuffin.  I was pleasantly surprised that the sausage was quite different here from home.  The "meat" is much lighter in texture and more heavily spiced.  I rather enjoyed it.  

I was pretty disappointed at the boringness of the border stamp that we received.  When I had gone back in 2006 the stamp was of their signature logo, however now it looks like every other passport stamp.  I also had to ask the Customs Officer for the stamp.  He didn't give them to the rest of our group, but I spied a stamp on his desk.  He was really nice about it.  It did hold up the line a little bit. I wanted my stamp!  With the new passport from my name change it is rather sad and blank and I really wanted that stamp.  Who knows when we'll get to travel again.  We didn't even get a Spain stamp when coming through.  

We decided to take a tour of the rock since the sale person convinced us that the walk would be rather tiring.  We are so glad that we were sold.  The tour guide took us all around the rock and gave us a pretty good history of the place.

I saw a youtube video on different ways to use your iPhone for pictures that I had seen on a friend's Facebook post.  I was really intrigued by what they called the Panodash.  t turned out pretty well!  We had tried a couple of days ago with me in front of the yachts at Puerta Banus, but while we were doing it, a man sat down on the third stone I was going to get on.  It's not as cool with just two pictures of yourself.  

Inside the rock are naturally made caves.  This one was made into a symphonic hall.  Strobing colored lights gave the cave a majestic vibe.  

I tried to get a picture of Mom and Dad in the hall, but the strobing lights made them look like purple negatives!

Since there were no white lights, it was hard to capture the beauty of the cave without it looking like a rainbow. 

Because of the slow strobe lights, our panoramic pictures came out technicolor. 

Caught a picture in a rare white light. 

Family photo

Gibraltar is also known for their barbary macaques.  As tourists, you're not allowed to feed them, but our tour guide was able to give them peanuts.  Apparently, they love them.  At the peak of the rock there is a pit where they are left a vegetarian diet, but since the sun was getting hot, they had all moved down to a cooler region.  As we were driving they started hopping onto our van and the van in front of us.  Because they are a tourist attraction, they are all vaccinated and rather people friendly.  Sadly, they are all microchipped and tattooed to keep track of how many inhabit the rock, which makes them more of pets of the rock rather than inabitants.  Nick and I caught a glimpse of of one of the tattoos and it took over the whole inner thigh of a monkey.

The monkey will take the peanuts right out of our tour guide's hand. 

He's trying to get in for more nuts. 

This little guy hopped onto our windshield. 

It's hard to see, but there is a faint tattoo near the monkey's man parts.  
We got out to get a better look at the monkeys and the Momma with a baby hopped onto Sister.  

The tour guide told the Momma to get off of Sister and made her sit.  The Momma actually listened!  The tour guide said that a lot of the monkeys know them since they go up there all the time.  There is one particular monkey who will give high fives for his peanuts. 

This little guy had a poop coming out of him, but thankfully didn't drop it on Sister. 

From the top of the rock you get a good view of the Gibraltar airport. 

Inside the military caves is a museum of sorts with canons to show what it was like during WWII.  The cave tunnels are pretty small for such large cannons.  The sound must have been deafening. 

If you look closely, you can see a face of a person in the rock.  This is natural, but the lore is that it is a military man looking over the rock.  It even looks like he is wearing a helmet. 

Downtown Gibraltar
Of course, while we were in Gibraltar, we had to eat.  We sat down at an outdoor restaurant called the Angry Fryer.  It wasn't half bad, but I was too full from my two McDonald's sandwiches to eat a lot.

Beers were in order, of course.

Mom got the Steak and Kidney Pie.

Fish and chips

Sister got bangers and mash.

I got a baked potato with chili and cheese. 

Nick got a steak and ale pie.

In America you can't walk across a semi-large airport everyday to cross a border. I've been on small airport runways before, but this is by far the largest that I've been across. I may have walked this the last time I was here, but I can't remember and I didn't blog back then to check. 
From Gibraltar we drove to Ronda, Spain.  From ocean to mountain.  To get to Ronda, we had to drive through may kilometers of Andalusian mountains.   The road was windy, but I love mountain scenery so I was enthralled.  

Many of the mountains were ranges and ranges of young trees, but some of the mountains cut off into barren ridges like this one.  The stone was a completely different color and makeup.  

Dennis in the lead car.

I believe that the straight cuts of the stone were from forging the roads, but a lot of the cliffs were very jagged like this one. 

Once we reached Ronda there wasn't much to see but another small city.  There is a famous bridge there, but I think that you have to be down below to see the pretty archways. We were very high up looking at vineyards and farm land. 

Since we travelled an hour and a half in windy roads, Sister and I took a selfie. 

Full of selvies...ourselves?  It's vacation.

These apartments overlook the view of the canyon.  I'm pretty jealous of the people who live here even if the city is pretty sleepy.

Small streets of Ronda. 

Ronda didn't offer us a  whole lot of site seeing aside from some beautiful views so we headed back to Benahvis, Spain for dinner.  I had expressed the opinion that though the mountains were beautiful, I didn't want to be driving those dark, windy roads at night.  I wasn't even the driver.

Benahavis has some pretty cool stairways.

Dad and I enjoying our beers. 

These two.  Siblings for sure.  Their ability to tan astounds me. 

Dad pretending to be angry, though after five years of knowing him, I've never actually seen him mad. 

I ate all the carrots out of the center and thought that this was a cucumber.  It was a zucchini.  Not good eats raw.  Not for me anyway. 

A lot of the restaurants in Benahavis were ranked by Trip Advisor, but we went back to Los Abanicos because we knew that they had quality food and good service.

Mixed vegetables to share. 

Butter and cilantro rice. 

Jerng Jerng got the beef stroganoff. 

Den got the king prawns.  We made a reservation for tonight just so that the parents can all get king prawns. 

Sister got a pan seared fish 

I got a shoulder of lamb.  This was probably the best lamb that I've ever had.  We will have to try to make this again.  It was pan seared and then put into an oven.  The meat near the bone was so soft and tender that I can't stop thinking about it.  If we did it ourselves though, I don't think I would put such a heavy crust on during searing. 

Nick got the Orange Duck leg. He wasn't very impressed since it looks like it was fried and was slightly over cooked. 

Dad and Ye Ma got the ox tail stew.

Following the format of the last few days, I would talk about tomorrow.  It is already tomorrow. I've spent most of the day at a poolside bar blogging and drinking beers.  I feel Bourdain-ish.  If only.  Tonight we are going back to Los Abanicos so that the parents can have giant king prawns and I'll be back to blogging for Day 12.  Our vacation is almost over and part of me wants to be here all the time (I'm watching my still blindingly white husband walk down the hill) and another part wants to go home to our Emmydooz.  Also, a kid just face planted in front of me and I 100% loved it.  Still don't want to go back to work, but who does?  Until then: Happy tanning.

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