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GIBRALTAR, 19 May 2009
For the first time ever, we entered Gibraltar today. The Spanish border police inspected our Malaysian passports, was unsure what to do, and promptly took us to see his boss, who looked at our docs and said, no problem (or something to that effect – Malaysian passports must be rare sightings here). Soon we were on British soil, and no passport control at their end.
We arrive at the Spanish border town of La Linea, with its roundabout-infested main street, lined with oddly-designed, Mediterranean-style dwellings.
In front of us, the imposing view of the Rock of Gibraltar, the way it has been for millennia. ‘Gibraltar’ came from Arabic ‘Jabal Tariq’ meaning the ‘Mountain of Tariq’, named after the Ummayad General Tariq ibn Ziyad. A Berber, he led the first Moorish incursion into Iberia in 711, at this spot, thus starting Muslim rule which lasted till 15th century.
Nice esplanade at La Linea fronting the Mediterranean.
Looking for a parking spot close to the border post is a bit of a hassle. Apparently Gibraltar is popular for day-trippers from the Spanish side.
In front of the CIQ complex at La Linea. The 426-metre high limestone Pillar of Hercules is very impressive.
Past immigration, and the airport terminal is on the immediate left.
The RAF is of course here, to defend British sovereignty.
And here’s an oddity – the only road into Gibraltar has to cross the airport runway.
Yes, that’s runway 09/27 of GIB.
Of course, when no plane is using it, the rest of us can ply the road. Traffic lights with barriers control access at both ends.
Past the runway, we are greeted by BP, who else?
And of course, very British traffic signboard.
Inside Gibraltar, the main road to the town centre passes impressive roundabouts …
… especially this one, to commemorate the forced World War II evacuation of civilians to UK, Madeira and Jamaica, by the British Govt. Only in 1951, the last batch of evacuees returned to their beloved homeland.
A function at a roadside school shows the typical Gibraltarians – a mix of various immigrant races who came to the Rock over the last 300 years, especially Genoese, Catalans, Jews from Morocco, Maltese and Portuguese. But they are all now British subjects.
At a town centre entrance, a monument to commemorate The Great War.
Next to it, a memorial tablet. Gibraltar is a very historical spot.
Up the steps and past the street, we come to the town square …
… with an interesting City Hall.
Windows and balcony railings of City Hall.
Kids loiter in front of the City Hall. Can’t blame them, Gibraltar is a tiny 6.5 sq km territory, so where else to pass the time? There are 28,000 people here with no arable land. It’s literally a piece of ‘rock’.
The square in front of the City Hall, with the Rock in the background.
Past the square, the main street of downtown Gibraltar.
British chows everywhere, such as here …
… and here, …
… which are to be paid in pounds, either Gibraltar Pound or UK Pound Sterling, both interchangeable one-to-one.
There’s also the familiar bobby.
Intricate balcony railings which are typical here.
An old business still runs strongly.
An ancient chapel is squeezed between two buildings.
Next to it, a proud regiment is on parade.
We are still at Main Street, Gibraltar.
Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned, built 15th century on the site of a demolished Moorish mosque, in Gothic style.
A small square in front of the cathedral is decidedly Mediterranean.
A statue of a British soldier is a major attraction.
The tablet at the feet of the soldier tells it all.
More British identity here …
… and here.
We skip the normal tourist haunts and head back to the border. Housing for the masses aplenty along this major road.
Half-way up the Rock stands a castle built by the Muslim Moors. Such fortification has always been here since 711, when the Moors first arrived. They ruled Gibraltar for more than 700 years.
More housing as the Rock dominates every spot in Gibraltar.
Looks confusing, until I realise prices are quoted in English (pence) and Spanish (euro).
Heading for the border, but we have to cross the airport runway again.
There are traffic lights and physical barriers to stop vehicular traffic if there is aviation traffic in the way.
All clear, and we promptly cross the runway again.
Thanks a lot for spending your € and your £ here.
It gets congested as we near the border post, where a roundabout tells us we can go anywhere as long as it is Spain, Spain and Spain. Otherwise make a U-turn.
In single file, we duly pass the border back into Spain. Only the Spanish border guards inspect our passports, the Gibraltarians do not care a single bit who comes and goes.
Ahhh … back in claustrophobic-less Spanish territory and we spot a pair of Ronaldos.
> THE END
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