It has a rock. It has Barbary macaques. It has an envied position, guarding the strait from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. It is British. The people speak English. The people speak Spanish. The people speak Llanito. It is many things, having evolved over 300 years.
One thing it isn’t – interesting. So very odd – there is a main street, Main Street, that runs roughly a mile from the cruise terminal until the shops run out. There are a few cafes/restaurants with many retail stores. But nobody was in the perfume shops, the tobacconists, the wine stores, clothing stores, or shoe stores. It felt like a Twilight Zone set, where everything that is supposed to be there was there, but there was nothing interesting there, nothing that beckoned you to come in. There was no humor, period. Not one funny sign with a quip or a pun. Nobody asking you to come see their store. The shops themselves were also strange. The wine store window had 100 bottles of wine jammed in rows from top to bottom. The tobacconist had hundreds of packs of cigarettes lined up in the window, also top to bottom. And so it was for every different item offered in various stores.
On a positive note, the Rock was still standing. We didn’t go to the top, with the macaques, as we had done that several years ago and it was creepy. The macaques (the only wild monkeys found in Europe) own the top of the Rock, and they will absolutely grab any food you have, will try to rip handbags off women’s shoulders (as they know food is often inside), and they are also notorious for biting people. In the elevator last night, a woman said she saw a man with a chunk taken out of his arm, bitten by a macaque. They also jump on your head or back when you are caught unaware. So charming. An old superstition states that if the macaques ever leave Gibraltar, so will the British. In 1944, Churchill was so concerned about the dwindling population of macaques that he sent a message to the Colonial Secretary requesting that something be done about the situation. Really? In 1944? Uh, didn’t Churchill have a few other things to worry about at that time?
The day was perfect, summery, sunny, and warm, and there were loads of people about, as there were two cruise ships in port. It just didn’t feel so interesting or engaging. There are Moorish Castle ruins up on the side of the mountain, but it is exhausting to get to and costs about $20 to go in, which people said wasn’t really worth it. So, this time, just a little walking about, taking photos, and hurrying back to the air conditioning of the ship!
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