Pillar of Hercules

Pillar of Hercules
Gibraltar, United Kingdom
Gibraltar, United Kingdom We spent our Christmas day, in part, on the road. We were on the road by about 07:00. We decided we would head to Gibraltar today. We made it to Gibraltar shortly before 09:00. The original plan was to park and then walk across the border. We had been told that was the best strategy to avoid the hours long wait in the car to go through border control. With the combination of Christmas day and an early hour, we drove right in. I am glad our trip worked out like that. We saw zero taxis operating, so if we would have walked, we would have been very restricted in what we could see and do. As we drove across the border, we were first stopped by the Spanish National Police. The officer wanted to look at our passports. He quickly motioned us through. I said “Feliz Navidad”, and drove on. In about 20 meters we were faced with another officer. I was not paying close attention. I greeted him with “Feliz Navidad.” He answered me back in English with a British accent! I said, “Oh, I guess we crossed the border.” He joked with me that the change in uniforms and the different flag should have been a clue! I switched to “Merry Christmas.” He smiled, thanked me, and then cleared us to enter Gibraltar. The Rock of Gibraltar is massive. At its tallest point it must be 2,000 or 2,500 feet tall. The village is at its base and part way up the side of the slope. The first oddity we noticed is that we drove directly across the airport’s runway to get into the city. After about one kilometer it dawned on me that I was driving on the right side of the road. Luckily, so was everyone else! This may be a British possession, but they do not drive on the left side. We drove to the south end of Gibraltar, known as Europa Point. It was incredibly windy there. It was sunny, but it was very, very windy. The sun was in contrast to our early morning drive. As has become the custom during this trip, we drove through fog this morning. In addition, it was windy during our drive too. At one point, in the fog, our Tom Tom took us on a road that was very obviously not on the main track. In the fog we could see many strobe lights going on and off. I thought they were on power lines. As it turned out, they were on wind turbines. That was an odd part of the trip. Anyway, back to Gibraltar. At Europa Point there is a lighthouse and a mosque. The lighthouse is known as Trinity House. It was not open to the public. On the opposite end of the parking lot was the mosque. The sign on the mosque read: Mosque of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz al Saud From the point, we decided to go to the town center. Once again, Tom Tom took us on a challenging route. Initially we drove by St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church. It was not open, but I did take a few photos. From there, the road was steeply descending and became very narrow. At some points, the mirrors on the 4Runner were within an inch or two of either side. When we got back down near sea level, I stopped at a gas station for a “pit stop”. While I was parked waiting for everyone to come out, I noticed gasoline was 1.169 Pounds per liter; that equals $6.94 per gallon! I did not buy any! We found a place to park and began walking around town. We decided we would go to church to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We first walked by the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar. The sign read The Cathedral Church of the Anglican Diocese in Europe. We passed by that church. A few blocks later we found King’s Chapel (1560). We noticed the service was due to start at 10:30, in about five minutes. It was a Church of England. We went inside. We found ourselves in a very small chapel. Including us, the pastor, his wife, and his son, there were 27 of us there for the service. Listening to the service with the pastor’s British accent put a different touch on the service. We left church and walked around for a few minutes. We quickly decided we were done since nothing was open. We drove back into Spain. Once again we were the only car. It was about 12:30 so we decided to try to find something to eat. Just across the border we stumbled upon La Braseron Asador de Carnes. When we entered we were told we were about 30 minutes too early for lunch. So we sat in the bar and had a vino tinto, of course. Right on cue, the waiter took us to our table. To start, we had Patatas Bravas. It is diced, fried potatoes covered in a red sauce. It is served warm. We could hardly stop our selves from eating them all. For the main course, the kids had grilled chicken breast and the adults each had a half chicken. It had been roasted in a wood fired oven. I have to say, it was the best chicken I can ever remember eating. For dessert, the kids had Tarta de Chocolate. Leslie and I had coffee. Soon after bringing our coffee, the waiter returned with some wrapped sweets for Leslie and I. He said they were traditional Spanish Christmas sweets. They were as follows: Polvoron – ** (very crumbly, shortbread biscuit)
Mantecado de Cacao – * (Cream of Cocoa)
Mantecado de Canela – *** (Cream of Cinnamon) The stars reflect our ranking of each one. The total for the lunch came to 71.85 Euros, oh, small towns!! We left the restaurant and began our drive back to Rota. Just outside of the town of Jerez de la Frontera, we drove by the Cartuja de Santa Maria de la Defension (Monastery of St. Mary of Defense). It was not completely open, but we were able to find out it was built in the late 1400s. Too bad we could not have gone to Christmas mass there! We arrived back at the Lodge at about 16:00. Another interesting sight on the way back were the cactus fences. They look similar to prickly pear cactus, but much larger. They stand about six feet tall and are used in place of fences on several of the farms we passed.

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