Difference between revisions of "Gibraltar"
Revision as of 13:26, 31 December 2010
Gibraltar , colloquially known as The Rock, (or simply 'Gib'), is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom on the southern coast of Spain at the entrance to the Mediterranean sea. The people are British Citizens.
This is a unique place for the curious traveller. Take time to explore the caves and tunnels especially those not meant for tourists!
The inside of the rock is an absolute labyrinth with the secret internal roads and tunnels 4 times longer than those on the surface.
Military presence and security in this otherwise deserted area is strong but almost invisible.
In Greek mythology Gibraltar was Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules, which marked the edge of the Mediterranean and the known world.
In 711 Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslim governor of Tangier, landed at Gibraltar to launch the Islamic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The Rock took his name - Jabal Tariq (Mountain of Tariq) eventually became Gibraltar.
Strategically important, Gibraltar was ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830. The topmost part of the Rock is still a British military installation, and off-limits to the public.
In referendums held in 1967 and 2002, the 27,800 Gibraltarians (2004 figure) ignored foreign pressure and voted overwhelmingly to reject any involvement by Spain in their government. On June 10th 2004, citizens of Gibraltar voted for the first time in the UK MEP (Member of the European Parliament) elections, as part of the South West constituency.
Gibraltar is not part of the Schengen Area. This means that there are border checks when travelling between Spain and Gibraltar. Citizens of the European Union are required to have a national identity card, while all others are required to have a passport to enter. The entry requirements for Gibraltar are the same as the United Kingdom, though the Gibraltar visa has to be applied for separately from a normal British visa at a British embassy/consulate.
Gibraltar Airport (IATA: GIB) has daily scheduled flights to and from London-Gatwick (LGW) (British Airways and EasyJet), London-Luton (LTN) (Monarch Airlines) in the UK. Monarch Airlines also resumed their flights to and from Manchester a few times per week.
Iberia operated flights to Madrid-Barajas (MAD) but due to lack of passengers this route was terminated September 2008. Andalus Lineas Aereas operated morning and evening flights to Madrid during 2009, using a smaller jet aircraft, as well as a flight to Barcelona and back around lunchtime. Operations ceased in January 2010.
As of March 2008, easyJet introduced their scheduled service to The Rock with two daily flights arriving from and departing for London Gatwick since their takeover of GB Airways (the British Airways franchise). The flights arrive from London Gatwick at 10:50 and 18:45 respectively and prices start from £17.99 single, including taxes and charges. A reduced British Airways service is available, operating just one flight a day to and from Gatwick, and two per week to Heathrow. Flight schedules varies depending on season / time of year.
With the introduction of easyJet's operation from Gibraltar, together with the governments planned airport expansion and reduction of airport charges, it opens the door for new routes from Gibraltar to cities such as Berlin, Paris and possibly New York. Private jets are reported to have reached as far as Miami (Florida, USA) direct from Gibraltar Airport.
The most popular alternative airport for Gibraltar is Malaga Airport in Spain, some 120 km to the East, which offers a wide range of destinations. Malaga can be reached by bus, but there are only a few services available per day and the trip is approximately 3 hours. Jerez Airport is normally the second choice, despite being closer to Gibraltar.
Queues at the border may make it less time-consuming to park cars in La Línea and walk across. This also has the advantage of avoiding Gibraltar's complex one way system with very narrow and badly signposted streets, and limited parking. The land border is open 24 hours a day, though expect delays when planes are landing - the only road into Gibraltar runs right across the airport runway!
However, once the airport expansion is complete, traffic (except buses) will be diverted around to the east side of the runway to ease overall traffic congestion.
Motorists, and on occasion pedestrians, crossing the border with Spain have been subjected to long delays and searches by the Spanish authorities. Spain has closed the border during disputes or incidents involving the Gibraltar authorities, such as the Aurora cruise ship incident and when fishermen from the Spanish fishing vessel Pirana were arrested for illegal fishing in Gibraltar waters. 
Despite being an overseas territory of UK, traffic in Gibraltar is on the right side of the road, the same with Spain as well as rest of continental Europe.
After walking across the border, you can get the number 9 bus to the centre of Gibraltar, or the number 3 bus to Europa Point. Both buses depart every 15 minutes on weekdays, and every half hour on weekends. Buses run from 6.30AM to 9PM Monday - Friday, 7AM - 9PM Saturday, and 8AM - 9PM on Sundays. Trips are just 60p, no matter how far you travel.
Alternatively, it's only a 10 minutes walk (across the runway and through a tunnel under the city walls) from the border to the main Casemates Square.
The bus station in Algeciras is opposite the train station. To go to the bus station from the harbour, turn left, walk along the main street for about 100m and then turn right. Continue about 200m along this street to the small building with railroads. There is a small sign for the bus stop. This bus can get you to La Línea for about €2.05 and it goes every 30 minutes during the day. There is a faster direct bus, and one that stops on the way. In La Línea you will arrive at the bus station about 500m from the border with Gibraltar. In the summer it can take up to 2 hours to cross the border with a car.
When the frontier was closed, there was a ferry service from Gibraltar to Morocco. There's a passenger service geared up to the Moroccan workers in Gibraltar, who have problems crossing the frontier, but only about once per week on the weekend.
From 17 December 2009, Transcoma now operates a daily service from between Gibraltar and Algeciras in Spain. The ticket prices at about 6-8 euros and about 5 crossings per day, and each trip takes around half an hour.
Cruise ships often include Gibraltar as part of their itinerary.
Gibraltar receives a large number of visits from cruise ships, and the strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Passenger and cargo ships anchor in the port of Gibraltar.
There is no train service to Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is less than 7 square kilometres, so most of it can be seen on foot. Bear in mind, though, that some of the roads (especially up to the Upper Rock) are very steep. Taxis will take the strain out of the climbs, and all the taxi drivers seem to know all the Barbary macaques by name. There is a (number 3) bus service that runs from the frontier, through the town and on to Europa Point.
Gibraltar's official langauge is English. Spanish (with a local dialect) and Llanito are also spoken. Llanito is essentially a mix of Andalusian Spanish and British English.
The term gibberish came from the Llanito habit of randomly alternating between English and Spanish words all the way through a sentence. (This is more formally known as "code switching".) New words appear at random and spread quickly through the tight-knit community, then disappear just as fast. Many businesses such as cafes and fast food joints tend to employ cheaper Spanish workers from across the border, so many of these people speak only Spanish. Almost all locals are bilingual.
Cable cars run from 9.30AM until 5.45PM to the Upper Rock, the last car up the hill might leave as early as 17.00PM. A "cable car and apes" ticket costs £8 return, while a ticket including entrance to St. Michael's Cave and the Siege Tunnels costs £16. Entrance to each sight costs £8 without this ticket. Alternatively, a 'Taxi-Tour' (typically for 8 people in an MPV) will cost £16 for a 1.5 hr tour, and this includes the fees for entry to the Cave, tunnels and upper rock.
A very informative Historic Walking Guide to Gibraltar can be purchased online or in local book shops and provides an excellent companion for those wanting to enjoy Gibraltar's best sites on foot.
Tarifa beach is the best place to go for surfing and bodyboarding.
Gibraltar uses the Gibraltar Pound with coins and notes issued by the Government of Gibraltar.
The currency is pegged to the UK pound sterling at a 1:1 conversion rate (one UK pound equals one Gibraltar pound). The UK pound can be used freely in Gibraltar, so there is no need to convert UK pounds to Gibraltar pounds. However, Gibraltarian notes and coins are not legal tender in the UK.
Most shops will accept Euros and US dollars. Bear in mind that shops will generally give you a more expensive rate of exchange than the numerous exchange offices and generally won't accept small change.
Government departments and the Post Office will only take Gibraltar and UK pounds.
If you like to sit outside and watch the world go by, head for Casemates Square  where a number of pubs & restaurants serve fairly similar meals, with the exception of Cafe Solo which serves good Italian food.
Irish Town, the road which runs parallel to Main Street has a number of bars, like The Clipper which has good food, friendly staff, and satellite television. They serve a hearty English breakfast. There is also Corks which serves more substantial lunches.
If you fancy dining waterside the marinas are worth a visit. 
The Edinburgh Arms  The most southerly pub in Europe. Good food, draught Bass and many others on tap. Happy hour daily at 10.30pm. Full Sunday lunch available.
Queensway Quay  is home to The Waterfront, which serves a good quality, if somewhat eclectic menu which ranges from steak to high quality local fish and Indian food. Casa Pepe's, on the other side of the marina is worth a splurge.
Marina Bay  is home to several restaurants. Bianca's and Charlie's Tavern at Marina Bay are worth a visit, the former being very well known for its busy ambience. Marina Bay has recently also become home to Gibraltar's first Mexican restaurant.
Ocean Village , Gibraltar's newest marina, is an extension to Marina Bay. It is home to several new pubs and restaurants, including a Chinese, and an Indian.
O'Reilly's Situated on Leisure Island, part of the Ocean Village marina complex, the traditional Victorian Irish bar has been designed and built by Ireland's leading design teams.
The Gibraltar Arms is situated next to Stag Bros' at 184 Main Street, telephone 200 72133 or e-mail [email protected] and is open from 7.30am (9.30am on a Sunday) serving meals all day until late.
The Star Bar in Parliament Lane holds itself out as Gibraltar's Oldest bar. With a menu and drinks selection to appeal to most tastes the pub seeks to cater to a wide audience.The Star Bar in Parliament Lane holds itself out as Gibraltar's Oldest bar. With a menu and drinks selection to appeal to most tastes the pub seeks to cater to a wide audience
The Lord Nelson In Casemates Square, the official home of the Gibraltar Rugby Club and Live Music Venue Of The Year, top entertainment on stage every night. Offers free WiFi.
Gibraltar's international telephone code is +350. Spain finally recognized this code in 2007 and the old domestic (Spanish) code of 9567 was discontinued, making calls from Spain into Gibraltar in sync with the rest of the world. Another indirect consequence of this was that all landline numbers in Gibraltar have been prefixed with 200 in October 2008, making all numbers 8-digit long now. If you come across with a 5-digit number, just prefix it with 200 (and, of course, with the country code prior to that if you are calling from out of Gibraltar). Mobile phone numbers have not been affected by this change, however.
The prefix to dial prior to country code for international calls is 00 in Gibraltar.
Free wireless is available in the following places:
Gibraltar has a low crime rate and a large and efficient police force modelled on the British system to ensure it stays that way.
There are a few recent reports, however, of people being attacked on the Spanish side of the border while returning to Gibraltar on foot late at night. It might be smart to take a taxi home after dark if you have been drinking at the bars in Spain, especially if you are by yourself.
Gibraltar is part of the European Health Insurance Scheme and has a health service similar to the United Kingdom, with a modern Hospital. If you are from a participating country, your EHIC card will entitle you to full free emergency medical treatment. For more information see this wikipedia article: .
Tourists should be aware that the Barbary macaques are wild animals and do bite. It is advisable not to feed the Barbary macaque, despite encouragement from irresponsible taxi drivers. It is illegal (hefty fines are in force) and bad for their health. Never try to pick up a baby Barbary macaque - its mother will not be happy, and neither will you. If you are bitten by a Barbary macaque, you will require hospital treatment, whilst the Barbary macaques are rabies-free they can infect you with hepatitis, they are most aggressive on the top of the rock, as the most successful animals claim the uppermost reaches of the rock, their less successful fellows being shoved down the rock and the social pecking order.
Remember that Gibraltar is a British overseas territory.
People from Gibraltar refer to themselves as Gibraltarian or 'Llanito' pronounced Ya-ni-to. Even though the vast majority of Gibraltarians speak Spanish (with a local dialect), they are easily offended if referred to as Spanish because they regard themselves as Gibraltarians and are very proud of their identity. Remember that Gibraltar has been a British possession longer than it was Spanish. Some Gibraltarians also feel sensitive to the use of the term 'colony' for their territory due to its connotations of being ruled or lacking in self-government.
Although the popular view is that the Spanish Government is the cause of many problems concerning Gibraltar, there is no animosity to individuals and Spanish tourists and workers experience no problems. Recent airport ageements have opened up the relationship Gibraltar has with Spain.