High five with the macaque - travel to Gibraltar

Give a high five to the macaque - that was the main purpose of the expedition on Gibraltar. The direction of the travel was already excit...

Give a high five to the macaque - that was the main purpose of the expedition on Gibraltar. The direction of the travel was already exciting by itself, and I could already see myself as a crazy traveler surrounded by monkeys: "Polish girl on Gibraltar!". When I was a kid, I used to sing a travel song to my mum, which went like "lovely mum, when I grow old, I will bring you a monkey from my travel!". Well, okay, it doesn't rhyme in English. Anyways, unfortunately for mu mum, this was more like a promise than just a song, and unfortunately for me, the realization of the plan took a little longer than I had originally planned. Although as a little girl I already made some serious travel plans. I used to pack myself into a small backpack and say that "I'm going to explore the world!". While standing on the southernmost point of Gibraltar, seeing Africa on the other side, I felt I was exactly where I wanted to see myself as a child. Dream came true.

So as you can see, the idea of going to Gibraltar was not really new. When I've heard for the first time that on this one, unique mountain in Europe, you can meet monkeys, my travel curiosity was aroused. Last year, however, the Balkans won with this plan. No regrets though, because this one definitely became one of my favorite expeditions. However, even though the different cultures of the Balkan region surprised me more than once - there were no monkeys there. Reflecting on this year's direction, I came up quietly with: "Gibraltar, Gibraltar...", but I did not count on the exceptional enthusiasm, first of all because of the relatively high cost of such an expedition, and secondly because of the distance to overcome. I did not take into consideration the fact that someone may not share the same level of excitement regarding monkeys. I guess it's mostly my domain. But later on, when I've heard from my boyfriend: "Let's do it!" - the decision was made.

Gibraltar seen from the Spanish side
Seeing the Rock of Gibraltar I could not believe my eyes that we are really here! However, contrary to appearances, the whole expedition required a little more complicated planning than it might seem. Gibraltar was neither the first nor the last stop on the journey. In the end we would not be ourselves if we would have stopped in only one place for the entire vacation. The two weeks that we dedicated to discovering a new piece of Europe, contained a total of three countries: Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar, which is the British overseas territory. It has not only English as its official language, but also its own borders, coat of arms, anthem, currency (Gibraltar pound) and everything related to the independent territory, such as schools with British education. And monkeys, of course.Our trip included a flight from Vienna (Austria) to Faro (Portugal), car rental at the location, sightseeing of Seville and British Gibraltar, return to Portugal and stopping in various destinations along the coast from the bottom to the top (up to Porto). Fortunately the Portuguese coast was not too big, so the return trip took us no more than 5 hours drive from Porto to Faro, then another two hours flight the next day back to Vienna.

British phone booths are quite common in here

Travel budget


Our budget was about 1300 € per person (about 5600 PLN), including the following costs:

- flights and return flights (Vienna - Faro)
- car rental with insurance (Fiat 500, a total of 577 €, about 2500PLN)
- cost of parking in Vienna (2 weeks)
- highway tolls and local parking (we tried to park for free when possible), petrol.
- accommodation (hotels and hostels)
- food (food in local restaurants and ocassionally cooking by yourself)
- small souvenirs (magnets, postcards, or Spanish dress - the perfect souvenir!)
- admission tickets (this was very rare, rather we used free attractions)

Total cost: for two people it is about 2600€ (about 11000zł).This year's trip has been different than the one from last year, but in both cases we've managed to maintain our very rational budget, we did not stay in all inclusive hotels or five star resorts. As every year, the biggest expenses have been: car, food and accommodation expenses. However, with the excellent local cuisine of Spain or Portugal, tapas, fresh fish and sangria - there was no way to treat it as unnecessary expense. Local kitchens are always the very important parts of our journeys and that's the way we discover new countries - this time we were also not disappointed!Unfortunately, Portugal itself is not a cheap travel destination, as we have already seen. Prices often resembled those of Austria, but they depended, of course, on places. We avoided exceptionally expensive hotels and restaurants - but we always had a good time on the go. We did the best to enjoy our time to the fullest.In case of driving, we tried not to drive too much daily, giving ourselves time to explore and rest.

And if that was the case, we took care of the breaks and the short distances.

Gibraltar - British neighbor of Spain


Gibraltar is adjacent to Spain, where we stayed overnight in a low budget hostel La Esteponera (25 €). The distance from there was viable on foot, so we did not have to worry about parking in Gibraltar. The border crossing is at the same time the airport, on the surface of which we've walked on the way to the city center. Watching take offs was definitely a nice addition. When crossing the border, it is impossible not to notice the characteristic red telephone booths and road signs made all exclusively in English. Later it started to get even more interesting. All the time I expected this place to be strictly Spanish - nothing more wrong! The British accent is heard everywhere from the bus driver to the guards on the Gibraltar Rock. The restaurants offer typical British breakfasts (bacon, beans, eggs), and locals often hold the conversations in an interesting mix of Spanish and English at the same time. Imagine a calm British accent mixed with crazy and fast Spanish inserts - a nice combination!

How to see Africa in Gibraltar?

Europa Point is the southernmost part of Gibraltar and it is here that you will see Africa on the horizon. Right after the Rock of Gibraltar it is the most important part of Gibraltar, and interestingly, after the reader's comment, I learned that people living in Africa are excited to see Gibraltar on the horizon in the same way. On the part of Gibraltar you will find a mosque, a lighthouse, a lookout and a unique monument dedicated to Wladyslaw Sikorski and the victims of the plane crash from the 1943. In the area there is also a bus stop - you will get back to the city from there. However, it is worth staying here for a moment and admire the view - in the end not every day we have the opportunity to see another continent from such a perspective! Standing there I felt really happy - I really appreciate the fact that I can travel, explore new countries and the beauty of places like this one.

Rock of Gibraltar - the hike up the hill

I admit that hiking up the Rock of Gibraltar proved to be more difficult than I expected and I slightly overestimated my ability to walk there in over forty degrees of heat. For those who prefer to avoid it, there is a cable car available of about €15 (€ 63) that will bring you perfectly to the top of the mountain. The disadvantage of this solution is not only extra cost, but also the fact that you will not really see other beautiful points of Rock of Gibraltar. Although entering during the hot day is not one of the easiest, the views from here are definitely worth the effort. Remember to take the water with you, because the hike can take up to a few hours - it's easy to get all dizzy and faint (there is one toilet with drinkable water source in the whole route - but it depends on the place where you start the hike from). With the Africa behind our backs, we started our hike, encountering funny road signs like "careful, praying mantis," "slow down, butterflies". There are also various posters showing the ban on feeding the monkeys under fine punishment.

We've reached Gibraltar Rock!

Tired, sweaty, but also pleased, finally we've reached the top of the rock of Gibraltar. From the very beginning macaques joined us. Their presence truly couldn't be missed. They jumped on the entrance gates and cars, and they protested loudly when people tried to get rid of them. Later it became even more interesting as more of them began to show up. We could see them from very close distance, sleeping in the area, climbing up on anything that could be - small, big, lazy and frisky.
After climbing up we also went to the shop located at the entrance to the cable car and we got some extra water - it was needed!

The view from Gibraltar Rock

The views from the top of the rock really belonged to the unforgettable ones. Fantastic rock and blue water. Plus, the monkeys also admiring it all and sitting in some crazy places. Despite the great heat and tiredness, it was worth going there. But beware of monkeys who like to hook people up, grab things from their hands and even jump on backpacks and ostentatiously pull out different items.

Did I high five the macaque on the top of Gibraltar?


Yes! Although the plan was not as successful as expected. Looking at pictures of smiling tourists I imagined that these macaques are a bit like stray cats - a bit wild, but they can be stroked. I could not be more wrong. The small monkeys mentioned earlier, are only part of the monkey business from up there. Guides who bribe the monkeys with treats, make them unbearable to some visitors even if they are not fed later on. Other monkeys often watch the passers, while showing off their sets of big teets and fangs. When one of the monkeys had blocked the passage of tourists once, not everyone dared to go past through, despite the lack of signs of aggression.I went to the little monkey from the photo below, who was sitting alone, a bit like a little human, and bit a plastic cup that she held in her hand. I gave her my hand, and she returned the same. First greeting done well with monkey handshake! She quickly jumped on my shoulders and sat down. Unfortunately, I got up and she lost her balance, so she bit me on the shoulder trying to catch some grip. Until the end of the journey I walked with a quite big bruise... :-)
Have you ever been to Gibraltar? What's your opinion about this place?

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