After the wind dropped down a bit we drove passed the customs point at the entrance to Gibralter up the coast a bit to La Linea de la Concepcion and stopped at a site there. It was a very nice site with clean showers etc. but what a strange place because there were no signs anywhere to show it’s position. After driving up and down quite a bit we did manage to find it. You will not be surprised to hear that we were the only campers on that first night. Probably, no one else could find it. Tom and Jo phoned and said they would drive down to the site in the morning as they wanted to join us for our visit to Gibralter. So that became the plan. We gave them the gps coordinates of the site and next morning I stood by the side of the road opposite the dirt road leading to the site wearing the fez I bought in Tangiers. As their VW camper approached there was a distinct wheel wobble as they recognise who was the prat wearing the silly hat. Other than now being able to do Tommy Cooper impressions the 5 euros I paid for the fez ( after bartering it down from 30 euros ) was well worth while seeing the laughter it caused.
We went the 4k and parked up, showed our passports and entered Gibralter. We decided to hire a taxi tour of the rock rather than take the cable car or walk to the top. The driver spoke passionately about why it should never end up in Spanish hands and he gave us an excellant running commentary onthe way to and the way up the narrow roads to get to the nature reserve at the top. The ” Rock” has two peaks , one higher than the other. He parked and we then went down a tunnel to the most amazing series of natural caverns with stalagmites and stalactites all expertly lit in all different colours. All this area , we learnt, was used as a hospital during the last war and it was surprisingly warm considering we were inside a small mountain. We the went higher and again we stopped to see the apes. Inside the higher peak 34 miles of tunnels had been cut inside the mountain over many hundreds of years but most were cut during world war 2 for defensive reasons and the holes all around the rock were gun positions. We all set off to walk down the tunnels and all along there were cannons of every sort and there were very realistic mock ups of model soldiers manning the guns. The driver then drove us back down the very narrow roads, at the the same breath taking speed he had driven up. He then dropped us off in the town right by the shops and we were all delighted that we had made the decision to use him for the tour.
Now everywhere was British. Everything was priced in pounds but you could pay in euros and get your change in sterling. Here you cold find many british stores represented among the shops there and Elaine and Jo had a great time together going in and out of shops that neither had seen for quite some time. I think everyone in Gibralter became aware of the visit of the pair of them because of the laughter permanently erupting from them both. When we got to the square we made a beeline to the place where we were to have our lunch because the taxi driver had said that was the best place to go. That was nearly a pun beause there we were sitting at a table waiting for our fish and chips, a slice of bread and a proper cup of tea. We all agreed that when we had finished we would then go to the cafe over the road to get an all day breakfast. We didn’t manage that because the fish hung over the sides of the plate and the chips were delicious.
After more window shopping, we walked over the runway of Gibralters airport and after visiting a store selling Waitrose products, we bought some essential supplies. You could buy a litre of red wine in a carton there for 68 cents ( £0.56p ) but none of us us were brave enough to try it. We showed our passports to the Spanish boarder guards and they barely glanced at it. It is very strange. Everyone we had told that we were to visit Gibralter had shaken their heads as if to say thats a decision you would regret. We all had an amazing day and we had brilliant photos to remind us of our visit.
Tom and Jo then went off yesterday to go to visit a friend in Faro in Portugal and we drove 121 miles to the site we are on in Torre del Mar. This is a beautiful place but the beach has the most awful sand. The camp site is in the town and it would be a perfect place for a long winter stop except for the coarse, grit beach. This is the first camp site we have come across where there are many nationalities that have set themselves up for their 3 or 4 or even 6 month stay. Elaine and I could not believe what we are seeing. You all know we intend to do a longish stop somewhere but we are totally not equipped for a long stay in comparison to all those we see around us. For a start they all have ground sheets covering the whole of the pitch and they have wind breaks all around their pitches keeping themselves private from their neighbours. They have awnings and extra tent like structures and they seem to compete in who has got the best floral displays in huge pots or who can give the best lighting display. We haven’t even brought a union flag with us to proudly show our country unlike everyone else with their flags fluttering everywhere. As Tom and Jo are to join us again when we will do our long term camp probabably in the Alicante area I last night emailed them to warn them of what they should expect. Then followed a series of hilarious emails between them and us with me trying to cajole them to get their sets of parents who will come out to visit them to bring everything we would need in amongst their Easyjet luggage including the planters and plants. Being an ex army captain Tom was emailing us with the favours he was calling in and the miltary might that was going to furnish us with the camping extras we appeared to need. I was waiting for him to suggest I use the fez I had bought as one of our planters.
Tomorrow we will head in land for a visit to Granada and will probably spend a few days there.
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