Day 13 – September 16, 2004 - Costa del Sol to Seville
We had an early morning - our wake up call was at 6:00 - breakfast was just rolls, juice, and coffee as we have to get out on the road at 7:45 and beat the traffic to Gibraltar.
At 7:45 the sun has still not come up over the horizon of the sea. A few of the small food markets were open as we left town, but most were still shuttered and dark.
This morning we enjoyed a scenic drive past the exciting millionaire's resort of Marbella and on to La Linea. The beach is solid buildings, cranes line the skyline.
There is a moratorium on new construction on hillsides of the toll roads to the mountains to maintain open land for agriculture where they grow avocados, kiwis, and fruit as this is a subtropical environment. As we passed through the areas Ellen gave us a history of the area of Gibraltar and the government of the of this British nation.
As we crossed the airfield - yes, crossed the airfield - we were about to enter the Rock of Gibraltar. Gibraltar is its own country, a territory of Britain, like Canada. They have their own money, stamps, and government.
In the past they had to depend on Spain for water, but now they desalinate the water from the sea and are now totally independent of the “host” country - they are attached by a spit of land. They still have a naval base for Great Britain as well as a NATO base here in Gibraltar. It is now famous for tourists and therefore duty free shopping.
When we left the bus we took an 8 passenger Toyota mini-taxi on a tour of the Rock with 4 others from our tour. Our driver, Tony, gave us specific details about the Rock and the history as we passed landmarks.
We climbed the narrow streets ( I have said ‘narrow’ many times, but this road was more like a small sidewalk) all the way up the Rock. We made frequent stops along the way up to see the Straights. We are 9 miles from the coast of Africa here and can see the cities on the other side.
About half way up we stopped at Upper Rock Nature Reserve overlook and were able to see the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco, Spain and the Rock. Many ships use this site for orders on where to sail as there are no port fees.
Our next stop was St. Michael’s Cave where two skeletons dated from the Neanderthal period were found. This was also used as a hospital during WWII and is now an amphitheater as well as a tourist site. It was nice and cool to walk through and see the cave aspects.
Close to the top of the Rock, our stop was to see the “apes”, in reality the macaques, a tailless monkeys. We spent about 20 minutes taking photos and several in our group had the monkeys on their shoulders.
When I bent over taking a picture, I had one jump the roof of the van on to my back and bound to the ground. I had little monkey paw prints on my white polo shirt!!!
On the way down we had frequent stops. Tony, our driver, left us off at the city center where we spent the next hour dodging pedestrian traffic and making a few purchases at this duty free area.
Prices in the US are better for both liquor and electronics. We had sandwich and a drink before our 15 minute hike back to the bus (coach) park.
Our exit our of Gibraltar back to Spain was interesting. We again crossed the airfield, then got out of the bus with ALL OF OUR PURCHASES and hand luggage and show our passport to the Spanish authorities.
Ellen told us that depending on the mood of the customs agent sometimes they would remove all of the luggage out of the bus - thank goodness, not today.
By 1:40 PM we were back on the highway fighting the traffic to the toll way. On the way we passed large ranches where they raise bulls for the bullfights. They look so peaceful and beautiful as they graze in the green pastures. These animals are raised solely for the bullfight.
We also saw stork nests on the chimney tops and power towers. The storks come here from Africa, build their nests, and then migrate back to Africa when the young can fly. There are also many cork oaks here. Every 7 years the bark can be cut and harvested for sale wine bottles, insulation and other products.
We stopped at 3:15 and had lunch and bathroom break and were back on the road at 4 PM. At 4:45 we entered the outskirts of Seville and Ellen gave us information about the industry and customs. She also told us about Columbus who is buried here.
This is a huge university town - 80,000 people in just the schools. In 1992 they put on an Expo and built many buildings to promote tourism even building a gigantic stadium hoping for the Olympics.
We are at a 5 star hotel with super rooms but their internet is “broken” so we will have to go down the street to use a café. Ellen told us that we needed to be ready at 6:55 to go to the Flamenco show and then we would return for dinner at 9:30.
We enjoyed a beautiful evening's entertainment in where we saw a varied show of flamenco dancing, Spanish orchestration and the songs of Andalusia. There were several dancers that had such quick feet.
The traditional flamenco dancing requires them to tap their feet and play the castanets. They were so quick. One woman was exceptional - she could play soccer for me any time.
We each had a drink included during the two hour performance and then we got back on the bus and returned to the hotel where there was a pasta dish for a starter and then salmon and vegetables for the main entre. Dessert was a chocolate/coffee mousse.
At 10:45 we finished but realized that we did not want to go out to use the internet. The hotel’s was closed and their ADSL was broken!
Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.
The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.
Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...