Gibraltar. We took the bus to La Línea and walked across the border. A number 3 bus took us to the Botanical Gardens (twinned with Kew Gardens in London). There Mini stayed to view the gardens and Anne and Neil set off to walk round Gibraltar. The tunnel on the east side of the rock was unsafe and closed so we didn't see this side of the rock. Walking across the RAF Gibraltar runway was an unusual and interesting experience.
9.00 We make our approach to the frontier. On our left is a MacDonald’s. One of our route criteria is that we shall not pass a MacDonald’s.
Mini has come with us and wants to see the Botanic Garden, we get the Number 3 bus. At the gardens, we arrange a rendez-vous for later. Neil and I then head away west to order to get as close to the sea as possible and then south towards the tip of Gibraltar.. We pass some fennel in flower and a huge waterfall. Our route takes us through a series of tunnels which have not yet collapsed. Our route today has been modified because the tunnels on the far side have collapsed killing a driver in his car. We shall have to do the best we can.
10.45 We have just walked round Europa Point and seen the faro (lighthouse). This run by Trinity Lighthouse which is interesting and there’s ramshackle shop which looks as if it could be in Lowestoft (the most easterly town in England) saying last shop in Europe. The air stinks because Gibraltar lets out its shit at this point as does Lowestoft. There is, however, no gasometer in Gibraltar – replaced by bombona (gas) ships off shore.
We can see Estepona round the corner. It’s about 4 days walk.
We’ve now reached a back entrance to the Botanic Garden to see if we can find Mini and have lunch together. We are successful and find a nice seat to have lunch. Then Neil and I carry on to do the rest of Gibraltar. We head back towards the crossing. When we reach the airport (the access road to the rock crosses the runway), there is a British Airways plane about to take off. The level crossing gates are lowered and we have to wait for the plane to go. Bearing in mind the rigid security at other airports and the sensitivity of Gibraltar, the openness is superficially amazing. Closer inspection shows a stinger across the access road and land rovers with machine gun equipped guards. Anyone trying to terrorise the airport would not get far. Neil fails to take a photograph of the plane taking off as his batteries go flat at the critical moment. Once the barrier is raised, we cross the runway and walk to border finding the number 3 bus stop where we will go with Mini later on. In This way we have completed the circuit in its entirety.
We now cross over the road and go back across the runway to return to the Botanic Garden. As our route down to the runaway had been somewhat circuitous, we decide not to head right over the reclaimed land as we already covered this on our way out. Instead we head straight back to the Botanic Garden. We think the runway may not be in the correct place on the GPS (Has there been a deliberate distortion to prevent enemies knowing where it is?)
We go along Winston Churchill Way.
13.55 We get back to the Botanic Garden and our circuit is complete.
We are now going to do a rondvart (tour). This will save us from having to look for a number 3 bus stop in the other direction and will give Mini a chance to go through the tunnels and see Europa point. Mini and I get senior tickets in Gibraltar which is a bonus. A further bonus was that the bus waits for 10 minutes at Europa point so we could get out and have a look round before getting back in to return to the border. We bought return tickets so we could do the whole circuit.
There are some interesting things about Gibraltar which I wondered about before. They drive on the right. They use UK currency but the coins are minted with Gibraltar markings. They have local features on them like The Great Siege Gate. They have got their very own MacDonald’s. Our bus drops us at the border.
2.40 We return through the customs to the Spanish side and go back to the La Linea bus station where there is a Seville bus waiting which will take us all the way back to Tarifa. Great. I shan’t have to ring up Andrea because we might miss her 6pm appointment to return the deposit and one set of keys prior to our departure.