4-Xtremes – Part 43: A very British day in southern Europe

Series: 4-Xtremes – The World Tour

On the rock.

A piece of Britain in southern Europe – except with right-hand traffic and entry across the runway: Gibraltar is a special place in many aspects, and in this latest leg of their tour, Andrea and Mike go on a detour to explore this unique spot.

Glass under our feet and the Spanish mainland in the background: Andrea and Mike on Gibraltar’s famous rock.


After several weeks in Spain, it's time for a side trip to another country. We're even leaving the EU. Gibraltar, which is barely seven square kilometres in size and dominated by the massive "monkey rock", is a British overseas territory – and a very British one at that.

This tiny peninsula on the southernmost tip of Spain has only 34,000 inhabitants, but we still find ourselves in a very long queue early in the morning at the border! Bicycles and motorbikes pass between the cars. Why is so much going on here? Because around 10,000 Spaniards commute to Gibraltar every day to work.


Don't stop in the middle of the runway!

The queue moves quickly; you just hold your passport open out of the window. The customs officials want to know if our Axor is a camper van, but eventually, we find ourselves on Gibraltar soil and the fun can begin! Unlike on the British Isles, here, you drive on the right. After all, with only 29 kilometres of road, it's best not to make things unnecessarily complicated!

The much bigger surprise: you can only reach the peninsula by crossing the airport's runway! I suppose limited space has to be used wisely! Traffic is controlled in such a way that vehicles and pedestrians on the runway always keep moving. Unless a plane's approaching... then, a barrier is lowered for safety.

 


Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!
Narrow streets, British flair – and to get to it all, you have to cross the runway: there's a lot that's unique about Gibraltar!

Keep your head in when you drive through the tunnel!

We drive to Europa Point at Gibraltar’s flat southern end behind the rock. The roads here are a bit narrower than in Spain and the tunnel measures just four metres tall at its highest point halfway through, and as little as 3.40 metres tall on either side of the road. As our little house on wheels measures just 3.70 metres tall, this means we have to keep as close to the middle of the two lanes as possible. Because there's no oncoming traffic, this turns out to not pose a problem, and we pass through the tunnel intact.

From Europa Point, you can see all the way to Morocco, the coastline of which lies just 21 kilometres away. We park at the lighthouse and go into town by bus. We're immediately surrounded by everything British: typical British buildings, red double-decker buses, red phone boxes and post boxes, quintessential British pubs and children in school uniforms. Fish and chips for lunch is obligatory!


Hop on the minibus to the monkey rock.

In the afternoon, it’s time for the monkey rock. Because the cable car is closed due to maintenance work, small buses take visitors up the steep roads. From the summit, we can see one of Gibraltar’s six beaches, which have all been artificially created using 50,000 tonnes of sand.

The Berber monkeys, Europe’s only wild monkey after which the rock is named, hardly pay any attention to the tourists. Unfazed by all the cameras, they enjoy a lazy afternoon nap or busy themselves with delousing each other's fur. Another highlight is the suspension bridge, which crosses over a ravine at a height of 50 metres. A stroll across brings great views of the town and the Spanish coast lying on the other side of the water.


When we finish our walk, we enjoy some afternoon tea, and with that, we can proudly say we have ticked off all the Gibraltar cliches on our list! We board the bus back to the Axor, where Aimée is waiting for us. We take one last look at Africa before we head back to Spain. It’s a pity that you're not allowed to camp overnight in this special place. But what a day we have had!


4-Xtremes – The World Tour.

An unparalleled journey.

Andrea and Mike Kammermann have been on tour in their Axor for three years. "4-Xtremes – The World Tour" is the motto of the journey that the two Swiss nationals embarked on in mid-2020 and which they share with the RoadStars community. Keep up to date and don't miss out on any of the stunning destinations visited by the adventurous pair.

You can find all the parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.


Photos: 4-Xtremes

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