An Afternoon in Gibraltar

April 22, 2023 6:35 am23 commentsViews: 117

It’s hard to miss the Rock of Gibraltar looming out of the mist, black, cloud covered and vaguely threatening as it has been with the weather lately. The ubiquitous Gibraltar traffic jam, inching across the airport runway, through Customs checks (both Spanish and British) and winding round the bottom of the Rock, allows plenty of time to admire it at close range. There are three times as many cars as people in Gibraltar, but when diesel is around 70p a litre and it’s a VAT and tax haven, you can see why.

An Afternoon in Gibraltar

The citizens are so fed up of the endless queues that they are considering making the place a car free zone, and asking everyone to leave their transport on the Spanish side of the border before crossing on foot.

Gibraltar – ‘Mini-Me’ Britain?

Gibraltar appears to be ‘mini me’ UK without the taxes, hence English is widely spoken (as are Spanish and Moroccan) and many UK brands are in evidence, including Marks & Spencers and Morrisons supermarket. Apparently the café in Morrisons is regarded as a haven of good English food, fish and chips are widely available and several English teashops have sprung up in the side streets. In addition to the tourist element, the regular coach trips on offer from Fuengirola and the surrounding area seemingly provide an opportunity for ex-pats to buy British goods at reasonable prices, and in addition to have their purchases conveyed back to Spain easily and conveniently.

Unique, Despite Overseas Territorial Ties to Britain

The youngsters, from observation, speak a patois of all three languages and at least one school has a uniform option of maroon tracksuit trousers which zip open at the bottom to reveal a grey inset flare and maroon sweatshirt or grey hoodie worn usually with trainers.

Two Currencies, Two Different Exchange Rates

The currency is expressed in either UK pounds or Euros, with the Euro typically being the more expensive currency to use (up to half as expensive again). For instance, individual postcards were on sale for 30p or 50 cents (April 2010), deals were available for 4 for £1/1.50 Euros or sometimes only 3 for £1. Savings were really only evident on expensive items such as spirits, electrical goods or leather jackets and bags. Gibraltar currency is not legal tender in the United Kingdom so visitors choosing to use sterling for payment should make sure they spend any local currency there as the UK banks will not generally change it back.

The Rock of Gibraltar – An Uneasy Mix?

Gibraltar seems to be an uneasy place, wracked by the political arguing that goes on constantly between Spain and Britain over ownership of this small piece of multi-cultural land. It is just the right side of tacky, with a deep and rich history involving the Americans, Operation Torch, the Spanish, the Moroccans and the British. As a tax haven, it attracts both the rich and those wishing to seek out a bargain. It is however, a fascinating place which would reward a longer stay. Visitors may wish to combine a short stop in Gibraltar with a few days in Algeciras, just across the bay. Alternatively, coach tours are available which take in modern Algeciras in the morning and leave tourists at leisure to explore Gibraltar in the afternoon, and whilst this makes for a long day, it is a rewarding one.


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