Spain: Casares and Gibraltar
Did I mention we had an adorable car? Look at that thing!
Oh right – and Spain has wind turbines, it turns out.
Our next destination was a stop off at one of the pueblos blancos, Casares. We thought we’d just pop up briefly, enjoy the view, and then head back down to Gibraltar for the rest of the day. We ended up liking the little village so much that we stayed way longer than we intended.
Ah, HDR. Yen loves it!
We stopped off first at the visitor center, which is located on a little hill near the village – so you can climb up the hill next to it and get a terrific view.
What the heck are we looking at?
A griffon vulture! Largest wingspan of any bird in Europe. Turns out there’s a colony of them on the next mountain. I counted 12 of them circling at one point. I think possibly they realized I’m not a terribly coordinated person, and I shouldn’t have been scampering over those rocks. All was well in the end, though.
See that big pointy rock back behind the turbines? The one that looks just like the Prudential logo? Well, that’s Gibraltar. It looks exactly like itself.
Turning back around again, here’s Casares.
We found parking and headed uphill toward the castle. On the way, a nice man said something to me in Spanish. When I shrugged, he switched right over to English. He turned out to be a British ex pat who has lived in Casares for 16 years. We had a lovely little chat and he invited us to join him at the gym. We declined but asked him for a photo.
The thing about these perched villages is you’re always heading up hill when you’re inside them. Well, obviously until you’re ready to leave, and then it’s down, down, down.
I think this photo is out of order. But nice, eh?
Yeah… Now we’re back on the hilltop. I should probably be a good bloggess and fix this. But I’ve posted about 500 photos of this trip so far and I really can’t be bothered. Just enjoy our outdoorsy cuteness.
Oh, but this bit is important. See on the very right-hand corner of that mountain? That’s a cemetery. You’ll see.
Ok, back in town. This is us sitting up on a terrace having lunch. Does my smile look forced? That’s because I’m STARVING and wish he’d snap the photo already so I can eat.
These are the steps inside the restaurant. I would really, really like some tile in my house. Should I ever have a house. Which frankly seems unlikely if we keep spending all of our money on travel. Everyone has to make choices, I guess.
Here it is – the cemetery I mentioned before.
And this is the view leaning over the cemetery wall. I don’t think any cemetery in the world has a more beautiful view.
We’re heading back down now, slowly slowly. I’m not going to lie to you: I was getting awfully impatient with Yen. It gets dark pretty early there this time of year – solid dark by 6pm. And now it was 3pm, and we still needed to drive over to Gibraltar. And I wanted to see the apes, dammit!
You can practically hear me yelling, “Come on!”
A last look as we drove away.
Now fast forward about 45 minutes and now we’ve come to Gibraltar. Add another 30 as we struggled to navigate their network of rotaries, and voila! We’re at Europa Point.
This is looking back into town now that we’re heading up the hill to try to see this rock better.
Gibraltar is a curious place. You’ve got to show your passport when you arrive, and then you drive across the airport runway! It’s officially part of the UK, and the currency is the pound. What’s strange is that right now Spain is in this enormous recession, while the UK is less profoundly affected. But what we saw of Spain was very affluent (yes, funded entirely by foreigners), with lots of construction and no signs at all of a recession. Once you cross into Gibraltar, everything is suddenly quite run down.
But enough talk: we’ve got a large hill to climb.
The road is narrow, and it’s a good workout. But a lot of people insist on driving, and then end up getting into situations like this.
So we paused often to catch our breath and let the cars sort things out.
And now we’re at the Pillar of Hercules (Europe side).
Up, up, up.
Oh! We made it! The Ape’s Den is just around the corner. I stopped and posed as one of my cousins.
Here’s the first guy we came to. He was being a little territorial and shaking his tree for the benefit of everyone around.
Lots of babies this time of year, it would seem.
There were a few skirmishes while we watched. I loved it, of course.
The apes totally left us alone. But of course this car full of punk kids pulled up and shook a bag of chips out the window. And the ape knew just what to do.
I forced Yen to take this photo because – see that hill in the distance on the left? That’s Africa!
If you want to carry on up the hill, you’ve got to take this. Ugh.
Don’t forget that the Rock is actually a giant fortress. Check out the cannon dug into the rock itself.
And at last you climb all the way back down, and this is the last look. Nothing to do then but get in the car and head home, sleeping for the next adventure.