'Omelette,' I said 'and a cappuccino.' The quoted price was reasonable. I set up my laptop in a window seat, looking over the windy square - a large piazza lined with trees and restaurants with signs like
'Full English Breakfast,', 'Burgers,' 'Fish n Chips' - lots of chairs and tables under awnings outside each one.
The omelette arrived without garnish of any sort, not even bread or toast. I asked for toast 3 times and by the time it arrived, I'd eaten the small omelette, lonely on its plate. I wish I'd taken a picture of the cappuccino - the foam was about 3 inches high in terrific peaks - like I remember it was in Menorca when I went there years ago. The staff are all Spanish and all chatting in Spanish. Everywhere in Gibraltar, all the service industries are staffed by Spaniards, many of whom seem to have little English.
The number 2 bus stop was a 3-minute walk from the hostel. It cost £2 return. It took me to Europa Point, one end of the island, where the lighthouse is - I looked out the window all the way - so this is Gibraltar - 3 miles long and 0.75m wide. A winding road, The Rock high on my left - glimpses of the sea and yachting harbours through sometimes high rise buildings to my right, some of these buildings ugly and functional.
We passed old, post-industrial and modern. The British took Gibraltar from the Spanish in 1704. The Spanish have been trying to get it back ever since, but apparently, the Gibraltarians have continued to vote almost unanimously to remain under British sovereignty. The Brits want to keep this strategic location that guards the entrance to the Mediterranean. Later I found out some of the reasons why Gibs cling on to their UK nationality.. I'll get back to this topic.
of the fallen" by Ryszard Kiersnowski:
"And when children forget that they had lived in shelters,
That the deeds they had witnessed were too base to forgive,
Let them always remember just this thing about us,
That we all fell in battle so that freedom might live".
If you face the other way, inland you can see a small rather beautifully formed mosque.
A bit later, after advice from a nice woman at the bus stop, I was heading for Camp Bay... I tried to get the image of Camps Bay, Cape Town out of my head - that long wild beautiful beach I always head for when I'm there, with the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, over the Atlantic Ocean. Ah well, it was never going to bear comparison.
I watched my bus's progress using Google maps, on my Smartphone. You have to get out a few stops past the cable car office. After asking a few people on a side road, I found myself walking through 2 tunnels in a rock face ... pedestrians and SUVs go through this narrow track with no railings or road markings. I waved my arms a lot or flattened myself against a rock when the odd vehicle showed up. Then, to my right, over a wall was 'the beach'... if you can call it that - a wide semi-circular inlet faced out to the main shipping lanes - is it the Atlantic or the Med just there - or do they both join together at that point? Giant ships - cargo ships I assume - not the vast container ships that pass through Durban to Port Elizabeth. No these looked more industrial.
Later, I walked back, across the concrete platform and up the steps onto the lane, through the two rock tunnels and out onto the main road. There was, what appeared to be, an Italian restaurant just along from there.
Tuesday: Catalan Bay - The Sea Wave restaurant/bar.
I began to understand why the Gibs all want to hold on to their British status. She said they consider themselves British and are British to all intents and purposes. There are many perks. Gibs can come and go to the UK as they choose, use our NHS. Martha had a daughter just graduating from a UK university. One of the perks she told me about - Gibs can send their children to any university in the UK and the Gibraltar government pay the fees and living expenses. Spanish people living and working in Gibraltar get all sorts of financial perks too - free schooling for their children and many other advantages. Of course, the Gibs all voted against Brexit, they want to keep their feet in both camps, Spain and UK.
Now, I sound like the worst kind of British traveller - the kind who expects everyone to speak English and wants only English food wherever they go. I am not that person reader, I assure you. I've travelled extensively all over Africa, India and I've been to quite a few Far Eastern countries too, not to mention North America. I love to experience other cultures and eat local food (as long as it's vegetarian). But before I came to visit, everything I read about Gibraltar seemed to be selling that kind of destination to the average Brit - home from home, British shops, English spoken everywhere and so on. In fact in this post-pandemic(???) universe, the reason I chose Gibraltar to visit was linked to that - it was on the Green List, very few restrictions for those of us double jabbed, a large percentage of the population here double-jabbed (more than 90% so I'm told by a local) a relatively safe destination in these troubled times.