I heard so much about Gibraltar in the past that I was so intrigued to visit this place! I was never sure whether it’s the United Kingdom or a country on its own. To be honest, I am still confused. Anyway, I flew to Malaga to meet my family who was driving from Morocco to spend the holidays in Costa del Sol. I booked my return flight from Gibraltar so we can all spend the day there and I return back to London. My family backed out of the plan so I went alone but I reduced my time in Gibraltar from a day to just two hours!
Technically, I was in Gibraltar for 4 hours. However, I spent half my time there at the airport. Either walking it’s runway (literally) or waiting in line to board the plane. But the rest of my time, was well spent in town. Here how’s the trip unfolded.
My flight back to London was at 9 pm on a Sunday. So I took a bus from Fuengirola at 3 pm to arrive to La Linea de la Concepcion in Spain at 5 pm. I slept most of the time on the coach ride but I was a bit disappointed that food and drink were not to be eaten on board the bus. I was starving so I waited till my arrival to Gibraltar.
From La Linea bus station, I walked about 2 minutes and I was already seeing Gibraltar. I kept on walking for few more minutes until I find myself right on the border. There was a Spanish side first to pass and a Gibraltarian side next. I have been told that people wishing to visit Gibraltar by car are better off parking at La Linea and walk to Gibraltar, it’s very easy and not stressful, at least not during the day I visited.
Moroccans can visit Gibraltar with a Schengen visa. This is exceptional for Moroccan citizens as there is a huge potential to attract over half million Moroccan tourists visiting Costa del Sol in Spain yearly.
Read more: 5 Towns to Visit in Costa del Sol
Once in Gibraltar border control, I was a little bit curious about the type of stamp I would receive on my passport, is it like the ones I receive in the UK? Or is it a new one? Finally, it was a new stamp on my passport from Gibraltar! It made me feel like I was in a new country and not in the UK!
Apart from immigration control, Gibraltar is independent from the UK with other internal affairs. It has its own government, its own pound banknotes and its own flag with all being a British Overseas Territory. You can read more about British Overseas Territories here. I could see similarities between Gibraltar and the UK though, especially cultural.
People in Gibraltar do speak a perfect English in the same way a British person does. They also speak fluent Spanish. I thought that if Spain and England had a baby, it would be Gibraltar!
Anyway, upon crossing the border on my foot, I was actually standing at the airport. It was very practical as I left my luggage there for £3 until I came back for the flight. I then cross the airport on foot too. The airport runway is taking all the space and thus having a road at the middle of it is the only way into town! I walk past it and admire the giant rock in front of me.
My first stop was Ocean Village which is a newly built marina with many pubs, restaurants and even casinos. I could spot Morocco from there actually! But remember, I was hungry… so I walk around the Ocean Village but I was not tempted to eat at Pizza Express, Wagamama or a British pub which are all features of a typical British high street. I wanted something local. So I decided to keep on walking until I find somewhere.
I then walk into the Main Street which gives me the vibes of being like a mix of an English shopping street and a Northern Moroccan Old Town like in Tangier, especially the back streets! It was Sunday, so all shops were closed but I was struggling to find restaurants on the Main Street. Suddenly, I was attracted to some very colourful tiles in a building. The tiles had an Islamic style. I quick find out that the place was actually a church. It had people inside, unlike churches in England which are not very popular!
Gibraltar is actually a place where all religions and cultures meet. The territory is in majority Christian but significant Jewish and Muslim populations continuously living there for years!
I wanted to go to the top of the rock but time does not permit. I went for a walk back to Casemates Square that had most its restaurants open, so I had an Italian pizza. It was excellent, but upon ordering the bill, I was given the choice to pay in Pounds or Euros. I was then surprised to have the bill as £12.40 or 19 euros. Paying in euros is considerably more expensive and I am wondering why? Some internet forums online suggest that this is due to the use of a very poor exchange rate by the Gibraltarians.
After my delicious meal, it was time to head back to the airport to catch my flight back to London. I pass by the duty free shops inside the airport and I was surprised to see how cheap alcohol and cigarettes were. It was right there the true definition of what a duty-free shop should be like! The staff from British Airways flight was out doing their shopping too! The airport staff was friendly too, they really engaged in personal conversations with me and I loved it especially since I had only few hours there and a contact with locals, no matter how small, is always important!
So, was two hours in Gibraltar enough? No. I think I want to see more of Gibraltar such as climb the rock, swim at the beach and see the casino. But especially mingle with locals! They seem friendly and welcoming. I think one night in Gibraltar would be enough for me though, it would give me the opportunity to see the territory by day and witness the nightlife by night. But it all depends on what you are looking for. Some people may want to stay longer or shorter than that. Either way, I do recommend a visit for definitely more than 2 hours!