Just as we were about to land in Gibraltar I was told, “Hope they stop the traffic while we land!” I was sure they would if there was a road running across the runway. Doesn’t seem sensible to land on the top of a car roof. But I didn’t really believe there was a road crossing the runway. I was wrong. Running at right angles to the runway was a road. Gibraltar is a small area so maximum use must be made of the available space including access between two points via a road running straight over the airport runway.
With reference to the British background of Gibraltar, the road is named Winston Churchill Avenue. In one direction close by is the frontier with Spain and the other direction is to the small land area of less that 7 sq Km called Gibraltar. Dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar and a city that is squashed into the remaining space, it is densely populated with about 30,000 people.
Even as we landed I knew I would love visiting. You could see the white rock referred to locally as Gib, tennis and sport courts, multi story apartments, sheds and more all lined up and squeezed in just behind a fence on the edge of the runway. You just knew there would be loads to see packed into the scarce available space. If you like walking, talking and looking with a friend then always take an opportunity to visit Gibraltar.
Before we could go out walking we had to drive to the hotel. This was along a skinny two way street called Linewall Street. The side streets rising up the side of the rock were one way, extra thin and while parking was not permitted many places had small vechiles parked with the side mirrors rotated in closer to the car to avoid being smashed off. Stop for a second or two to squeeze by and you get peeped at from the car behind. Buzzing around are loads of Vespa style scooters.
Despite the lack of street names and a tourist map showing oneway restrictions we managed to successfully navigate to the hotel and crossed over Main Street on the way. A collection of tourist shops, this street was a pedestrian only thoroughfare that we walked down layer in the day.
The collection of shops were dominated by watches, jewelery, alcohol and other tourist type purchases. After a while the you are saved from this repetition as the street opens into a large square surrounded on four sides by mainly white coloured buildings, it is covered in tables and chairs belonging to the numerous local cafes and restaurants. In summer time it would be packed. Casemates Square was named after the British Barracks located at the north of the square, this area has served many purposes including the site of public executions.
I decided to have a coffee later in the day and what should be on the TV in the hotel bar but a replay summary of Ashes with Australia trailing by number of runs. The pink wickets being used to symbolise the McGrath Foundation fund raising for cancer were probably not even noticed by the locals even though they had a mixture of different English accents. Even the extra large pink Vodafone logo painted on the ground was overlooked.
The sun is shining in the sky… Blasted out the ELO song Mr Blue Sky as they wound up the replay of the cricket. To the rhythmic beat of the music images of Sydney flashed on the screen. The harbour bridge, opera house, SCG and cricketers dressed in test match whites. While sometimes traffic in Sydney seems more like a car park the bright sunny images of Sydney highlighted the difference in the buildings and roads compared to here. Here the buildings seem to sit on top of each other as they rise out of the side of the hill. Many look in need of desperate maintenance however the non familiarity of style makes them interesting. From our walks tomorrow I hope to take a few pics to blog and for now I am enjoyed the group of jazz players that just appeared to roam in off the street.
Want to know more about Gibraltar then check out Wikipedia.