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While in southern Spain, make like the local expats do and road trip to Gibraltar for the shopping and the monkeys.
Getting to the rock is easy and as warned, the queue is long. To get into Gibraltar you pass through passport control. On both the Spanish and Gibraltar sides. Each within meters of each other.
Shortly after passport control is a stretch of highway that crosses an air strip. If you time your visit just so, they block the sidewalk and road in and out of Gibraltar as planes take off.
You are not in Spain anymore
The city center of Gibraltar is beautiful and shockingly different from the area you just left. You emerge from a tunnel that enters the old fort into a square with fish and chips signs displayed boldly. While a mix of Spanish and English is predominant here, there is no mistaking you are in the United Kingdom.
The pedestrian only street is lined with shops like Ray Ban, BHS, and Marks & Spenser. You can spend hours shopping and exploring.
If you continue through the hundreds of heads of people that fill the street, you come to a cable car that takes you to the top. Here you see an expansive view in front of you and visit with the Barbary monkeys.
Used to being around people, these monkeys often approach and sometimes climb on top of you. I had one unexpectedly use my shoulder when crossing the road and traffic ahead.
The walk along the top is a bit up and down but worth the vistas because of its unique position by the Straight of Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean sea meets the Atlantic ocean. For this reason as well, you can also find fortifications such as bastions, gun batteries, and magazines.
Walking distance from Spain, Gibraltar is so close and yet so far away.