3 weeks and 2 days on the road

On Saturday, after the tent dried off a bit

1a steaming tent

we drove to a nice campsite about 10km west of Tarifa.  I loved the route, which took us by some salt pans and some beautiful mountain scenery. 

1b salt flats

2 scenery

We stopped at a place called Vejer de la Frontera to stock up on groceries.  The road to the village went straight up the mountain, giving fantastic views of the surrounding area.  We had a lovely lunch for very little money in one of the many little cafes there, but I was little perplexed by the decor, it looked like an apologist statement for hunters.  They need to get the critters before they attack!

3 wild boar

4 scary stuffed animals

The campsite was lovely, but on Saturday evening and night, the rain came down so heavily that the air almost felt like it was full of water.  During the night it started up again, together with very loud thunder.  We ended up with a puddle in the tent, so Tim decided to dig a trench around it.  We are currently hoping that the ground staff don’t notice!

5 sea defences

On Sunday we had a lovely lazy day, doing the washing, bailing out the tent, sitting around reading….  Lovely!  After supper, we headed for the bar because it just gets so dark and we have not yet managed to sort out some decent outside lights.  We ended up having a really interesting chat with a South African Lawyer, who is currently working in London.  It is always fascinating to hear an outsider’s point of view of your country, and he really likes working in the UK.  He is about to catch the ferry over to Morocco to go off over-landing with a group of other people.

On Monday we headed off to Gibraltar,

5a scenery2

6 Camel at Gib

not having very high expectations, due to some highly disparaging remarks from some people who had been there and some online comments about Gibraltar being one of the worst places in Spain.  We also expected problems crossing over from Spain, but that was dead easy (some poor Asian woman was being given a hard time by the Spanish passport people, however).  At first we were not very impressed- you end up in Main Street, which is a very long shopping mall with every British chain-store you could think of.  Including M and S, of course. 

8 Gib shopping

We stopped for lunch at an Irish pub, which had a real thing about the Titanic

7 Irish Bar

bit sad, I know, but Tim fancied some decent cider after 3 weeks in Spain.  It also served the best pub fish and chips we have ever come across and it was interesting talking to the English barmaid, who has been married to a native Gibraltarian for over 20 years.  She said it is entirely possible to move to Gibraltar as a foreigner and explained that the local language is a kind of mix of Spanish and English.  It was a lovely friendly place which seemed to have a large number of older Brits off a cruise ship desperate for a decent ale and a plate of proper chips.

We passed some great old buildings and the headquarters of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, where the chap on guard had the best set of shiny boots I have ever seen.

9 Gib fort

10 Gib soldier

We finally found the cable car, which takes you to the top of the rock.  The views were fabulous and we got to meet the local celebrity apes, who had been tempted to the cafe at the top by a bag of sweets.  They looked very cute and posed beautifully for the camera, the little ones doing great stunts up and down the side of the building. 

12 Apes 2

13 Apes 1

We stayed well back, believing the signs about their big teeth and thieving habits.  The big male displayed some other bad behaviour with the big female but I wont go into that…

We had elected to walk back down, which took a good hour and a half by the time we had had a quick look at the outside of all the great things there.  It was a little perplexing to note all the things one should be worried about

14 electricity

15 crocodile

16 mantis

We decided it wasn’t worth buying the ticket that allows you into the tunnels etc due to lack of time as it was getting late in the day (we just had a peek)

17 tunnels

The walk back through the last few streets back towards the bus station was also really interesting.

17 back streets

Much to our surprise, we have decided that Gibraltar is quite high on our list for a revisit.  It feels both like home but a bit quirky as well, and you can see its history all over the place.

As threatened by the weather forecast on the magic weather box (AKA the weather app on Tim’s iPhone) the rain came in very heavily Tuesday morning, so it took a really full bladder and empty stomach to get me out of bed.  Tim continued to improve our flood defences and we ended up feeling hopeful that we could keep the water out of the tent eventually.  We headed off into La Tarifa just before lunch and walked to (wait for it……………) the most southerly point on mainland Europe!

18 southern end of europe

It was actually quite a cool spot, being at the end of a really good causeway

19 causeway

towards a really interesting looking fort.  Sadly there was no way into the fort, like nearly all the interesting buildings.  It is a shame because Tarifa could do so much more with its resources.

20 no entry

The old town is within an original wall and looks great.  We saw the largest weather vane EVER

21 giant weathervane

We never did work out why this poor lady lost her head

22 headless lady

La Tarifa also marks the joining of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.  Standing on the causeway, I could almost lead myself to believe that you could see the difference between them with still blue on one side and huge great rollers on the other. 

23 Atlantic vs mediteranian

Not fair, really, as there were harbour walls on one side…

The bar at the Valdequieres campsite is very interesting.  They have a multinational range of somewhat inebriated characters who love to chat for hours, you can ask the chef to cook what you want for the next night and the owner is a really interesting guy who was born in Ecuador and actually has 10 guitars, some of which are vanishingly rare.

24 boss at campsite

The other thing of note about the campsite is the pride of cats that roam around the place.  The minute you start cooking they home in on you… They may be pretty, but I always feel the need to count my limbs in the morning.

25 cats attck 1

26 cats attack2

The beach nearby is absolutely beautiful!

beach

(it’s just the weather is crud at the mo!)

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