Gibraltar, have you heard of it?
I knew of Gibraltar, but had little specific knowledge of it before the day when we were going for a visit. Embarrassing admission behind me, now those of you who are like me can read along and by the end be richer for it. I will drop all kinds of facts about this place, just watch.
In the South of Spain, almost kissing Africa, is the tiny peninsula of Gibraltar. And it is tiny. At mere 6.8 square kilometers, it is the 4th smallest self-governing territory in the World. Drop in the middle of it an upturned enormous rock and with what you are left, you get one of the most-densely populated areas as well.
This puny dot on the map, has more surprises.
As an important British military spot, Gibraltar needed an airport of its own. But where do you put it, when you have almost no land to work with? You do this:
The tingling beauty of this for me was the fact that to enter the country, one has to literally walk through the airstrip. You can drive your car or take the bus, but we chose walking. So much more fun.
Yawning border patrols waved us through, we walked slowly the width of the strip and as we were reaching the end, they were closing the border, because a plane was taking off.Â Indeed.
Gibraltar is a British territory. Red double decker buses zoom around, familiar telephone booths peak from the corners, as well as letter and litter boxes quietly claim the landscape for the Queen. Spain has tried to reverse this fact back in its favor, but the Gibraltarians have twice put their foot down and refused the offer.
Still, listening to llanito – the local dialect – you know Spain is not far. It is a fantastic mix of Spanish and English that boggles the mind in its swift switches between the two.
We had no money to take the cart up the rock and no time to walk up, so we took the bus to the end of the peninsula, where is the gift from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia – a mosque.
Quite beautifully, I thought, the mosque faces Morocco, peaking just across the strait.
And as the sun was setting, we walked back into Spain.
Yep, through the airport.