UK for the Day

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On Saturday I went to the UK, but not the UK everybody is probably thinking of.  Located on the southern most tip of the Iberian Peninsula, just south of Andalusia, about an hour 40 from me, lies the British Overseas territory known as Gibraltar.  It’s only 2.63 square miles and consists of very little other than, the rock of Gibraltar (from where my picture was taken from above),  tax free goods, gambling and monkeys.  It is the only place on the Peninsula where you can find wild monkeys; the monkeys are so use to tourists at this point,  I wouldn’t really call them wild.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any.  The town is pretty unimpressive and consists of mostly high-rise apartment complexes. The town is of course in British style, with British streetlights, CCTV, British signs and British accents.  It’s a very unique place; the resident speak a conglomerate of both English and Spanish, yet identify strongly with England.  Spain would love for it to be a part of its country, but the last two times there was a vote, the residents have overwhelmingly rejected Spanish sovereignty.

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Africa in the distance

I’m super glad I had the opportunity to go because it was a place I’ve heard about and I place I wanted to see. Experiencing new places is always fun.  I was invited by a fellow English teacher (Silvia) I met at the intercambios; she was going with her English teacher (Richard), who is from California and another friend of hers (Lucia).  We first ate lunch at a fantastic Indian restaurant, right by the border (on the Spanish side).    It was recommended by Richard who had gone there before.  He claims its one of the the best  Indian places in Andalusia.  I’ve never had Indian food before so I have nothing to compare it to, but it was incredible.  I have no idea what we ordered, but the flavors and sauces were perfect.

Our initial attempt to gain entrance to Gibraltar proved semi-successful.  Richard thought he’d be able to enter with his residence card because he has been living here for the past 4 years and has residency, however only Spanish people are allowed to do that, everybody else needs a passport.  Lucia kindly stayed with Richard, I offered but they had all been there before.   Silvia and I went in because there were certain things you could only get there and we had come all this way. They gave us two hours.  We went to the store and she picked up a bunch of things.  I bought Jim Beam honey whiskey which is unavailable in Spain!  We spent about an hour in the store.  We asked a man in the parking lot if it was possible to drive up the rock (Silvia had only ever taken the bus) and he told us it was possible.  We had to have met the kindest elderly gentleman or he had nothing else to do, but he drove us to the entrance of the park because we had no idea how to get there.  Normally you have to pay 10 euro per car and then something like 6 euro a person, but we were lucky.  Nobody was in the booth so we didn’t have to pay.  We drove through it without seeing any monkeys, but saw some incredible views. After we met up with Richard and Lucia.

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At this point, we were going to leave, but we decided to give it one more try, this time on foot.  We got lucky, the person at the customs desk let us through.  Finally! we were all in.  We walked through the center of town and grabbed drinks and food at a pub.  I love the feeling and atmosphere of English pubs.  They’re similar to Irish pubs with their  unique name and that they exude a sense of history and place.  Something that is missing from American sport bars or bars.  It was nice to drink a good pint of draft Guinness.  Like I’ve mentioned before, Spain doesn’t have much variety when it comes to draft beers.  It was the perfect ending to a interesting and culturally diverse day spent in good company.

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