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Monkeying around in Gibraltar

Well, Gibraltar has always been one of those crazy destinations that I never thought I’d get the chance to see. But on a recent trip to Malaga, Spain, I decided to take a day trip to see what Gibraltar had to offer, and it ended up being one of my fondest memories of Europe so far.

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located at the entrance of the Mediterranean, and it contains some of the most extensive military fortifications in Europe, as well as plenty of caves to explore, semi-wild apes that will steal food right out of your hands, picturesque landscape, and stunning turquoise waters.

To get to Gibraltar from Malaga, you actually need to take a bus to La Linea, which is a city in Spain located just on the other side of the Gibraltar border. You can take a bus from the Malaga bus station for €24,58 roundtrip (€12,29 each way). The scenic ride took about 3 hours, and the walk from the La Linea bus station to the border crossing takes just a few minutes.

The walk-through between Spain and Gibraltar, with The Rock in the background.
The walk-through between Spain and Gibraltar, with The Rock in the background.

As we passed through the border, we were greeted by people selling tour packages of The Rock. However, being frugally-minded, our goal was to take a bus to the base of The Rock, and take the tram up to the top ourselves. However, we learned that the day we were there, the tram was closed for repairs. I asked a bus driver what our options were, and he said the only real option was to go on a tour group.

For just €25 each (which includes the entrance fee to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve) , we secured a spot in a 9-person taxi van that would take us to the St. Michael’s Cave, Great Siege Tunnel, to some beautiful view points, past the Moorish Castle, and back down to Main Street. If we had gone ourselves on foot, we wouldn’t have been able to see all of that in just one day, so we consider the tour to be a really good deal.

However, the one road that connects the border crossing with the city of Gibraltar has to cross the city’s only airport runway. That’s right, we had to cross a live runway! To get to the city, we went in the tour group van. But to get back to La Linea to catch our bus, we walked across the landing strip by foot.

It was an unreal experience to walk across an airport runway.
It was an unreal experience to walk across an airport runway.
A close-up look of the runway/highway intersection, taken from The Rock.
A close-up look of the runway/highway intersection, taken from The Rock.

From one of the first viewpoints on our tour, I caught my first glimpse of Northern Africa. How surreal!

We were lucky to be visiting on a clear day. I would have hated to miss this view!
We were lucky to be visiting on a clear day. I would have hated to miss this view!

An interesting feature of The Rock is its system of underground passages, known as the Great Siege Tunnels. They were carved out by Merchant Marines in order to defend Gibraltar during the Great Siege of 1779-1783.

The original goal of the tunnels was to give soldiers the ability to get cannons over the northern face of The Rock, not to mount them within the tunnels themselves. However, they realized that was a great idea, so they put the cannons in the tunnels and cut holes into the rock face.

In the beginning the tunnel was only 82 feet long, however by the end of World War 2, there were more than 30 miles of tunnel.
In the beginning the tunnel was only 82 feet long, however by the end of World War 2, there were more than 30 miles of tunnel.

The Rock of Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules (the other pillar being Mons Abyla or Jebel Musa) on the African side. In ancient times, the two points marked the limit to the known world.

The beautiful, mesmerizing colour of the ocean is something I will never forget.
The beautiful, mesmerizing colour of the ocean is something I will never forget.

St. Michael’s Cave consists of an upper area filled with stalactites and stalagmites, connected with five massages with drops of 45-150 feet, into a smaller hall. During World War 2, the cave was prepared as an emergency hospital, but was actually never used. Now the space is used as a unique auditorium for concerts, ballets, and plays.

St. Michael’s Cave is actually a series of connected caves made of limestone.
St. Michael’s Cave is actually a series of connected caves made of limestone.
The summit of The Rock peaks at 1,396 feet (426 m).
The summit of The Rock peaks at 1,396 feet (426 m).

A panorama shot of the city of Gibraltar, the airport runway, and La Linea in the distance.

This was a series of 7 photos I took, merged together.
This was a series of 7 photos I took, merged together.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Gibraltar are the Barbary apes (they are technically monkeys). There are around 300 animals divided into 5 different troops living in the area of the Upper Rock. They are used to human interaction, and will often approach, and sometimes climb into people.

A family just outside the Ape’s Den.
A family just outside the Ape’s Den.

I was eating a chocolate bar, and this little guy was offended that I wasn’t sharing!

Feeding the apes in Gibraltar is an offence punishable by law.
Feeding the apes in Gibraltar is an offence punishable by law.

Our tour guide didn’t have to coax this ape much to jump on my shoulder. He was a little camera-shy though. :)

The Gibraltar Barbary is considered Gibraltar’s unofficial national animal.
The Gibraltar Barbary is considered Gibraltar’s unofficial national animal.

And there you have it – my one day trip to Gibraltar! :)

Breakdown of Expenses:

  • €0 ($0) – Accommodation: day trip from Malaga, Spain
  • €24,58 ($31.82) – Transportation: roundtrip bus ride from Malaga to La Linea
  • €16 ($20.70) – Food: lunch & snacks
  • €25 ($32.36) – City Transit: 2 hour tour of The Rock
  • €0 ($0) – Entertainment: we went on a Sunday, and most things were closed
  • €2,50 ($3.24) – Miscellaneous: tip for the tour guide

TOTAL COST: €68,08 ($88.12)

Krystal Yee

Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.

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Love the picture of the monkey on your shoulder! lol so cute.

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Gibraltar is beautiful. Monkeys are cute but can be dangerous. I have nearly lost a finger while playing with one of them.

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