Today is a day of three currencies. Last night Ton thought that we should take care of our laundry on the Navy Base at Rota. We had a fair amount of laundry and the sheets and stuff in the van could do with a washing. The Navy Base has big American washers and dryers, they take US currency so we dug around in our wallets and came up with a few dollars. They were a great bargain compared to what we usually pay for European washers. After we finished our laundry we drove over to Gibraltar which was our destination for the day. When we arrived we used Euros to pay for our aire which is on the Spanish side of the border. Since we were in a hurry to get here we were famished when we got thru customs, so we went right to a proper British Pub for lunch, and paid our bill in Pounds. So to sum up today we used three different currencies in their native environments, (US Bases overseas always do all transactions in dollars).
Today was also Ron’s first visit to the United Kingdom. Gibraltar is an interesting British enclave in Spain. It has been British since 1704 when it was ceded to them after some complicated and boring negotiations between Spain, Britain, France, and Austria. While you hear more Spanish being spoken than English, it does feel quite English.
After our proper British lunch of Fish and Chips for Ron and a Steak and Ale Pie for Ton. We decided to head to the top of the Rock. They have a cable car that takes you up there, but when we got to the office the line was quite long and we were running out of time. Luckily for us we ran into a tour guide who was looking for two people to fill out his group for a van ride to the top. This allowed us to cover a great deal more than we would have been able to cover once we got to the top on foot, with a knowledgeable and professional guide, and in the end it only cost us €2 more than if we had done the trip on our own.
The first stop was St. Michaels cave a natural cave that has been in use back to the Roman times. As the rock is mostly limestone, the cave was full of stalactites, and stalagmites. It was really unexpected for us. During WWII the cave was expanded to serve as a military hospital, but was never used. After the war it was converted to a concert hall.
The next stop was near the top of the rock, where we met the Macaque Monkeys. There are about 250 of these monkeys on the rock, and they are allowed to run free, though they are fed and periodically given shots by the government. Adrian the guide was very familiar with them, and was able to get them to pose for photos.
The last stop were some man made caves facing Spain. These were military emplacements, though they have not been in action since 1760.
Our last experience was watching the restaurants all closing up for the night around 7pm in Gibraltar. This is about the time the Spanish restaurants one mile away are opening their doors for dinner.