July 1st, 2018
When I arrived in La Linea, the Spanish town outside of Gibraltar, I realised I had done very little research. Having been in Spain for 5 weeks, the thought of entering a ‘British’ country on foot baffled me.
I ignored the currency exchange counters outside; I had euros, and a £5 note that I had left-over from the UK a few months ago. I’m sure it would do. I walked into Gibraltar by crossing the tarmac; something that equally amazed and alarmed me, and I felt a bit like Indiana Jones (so did everybody else judging by the amount of people having their photo taken).
Reaching the town centre, I was blown away by the Britishness. For the first time in months, I saw a Debenhams. A red post-box. A Marks and Spencers. Black bins. And I heard the accent, clear as day. But… it was hot? I was sweating? There was beautiful, bright sun? This was like a mini Britain... far away from Britain.
Upon buying a post-card I quickly discovered that the £5 note I had been relying on was not in my purse, and remembered I had in fact relocated it to a different safe place in my backpack after moving on from the UK (sensible, I must admit). My plan for doing the whole day on that £5 dissolved, and I paid 50c instead of 30p.
I walked up a long, steep, and unforgiving set of stairs to gain an amazing view, and saw my first monkey of the day, which was breathtaking. I soon learned I could not go any further without paying £5 or €6 to continue up the walking tracks. Swallowing the idea of doing the day on €5 instead, I paid the entry fee and continued up to the top.
The views from the upper rock were clearly priceless. I met many more monkeys, one of which cheekily grabbed a cereal bar packet from the side pouch of my backpack, and I joyfully watched another grab a packet of nuts off a too-friendly taxi driver. I clambered all over the rock and walked my money’s worth out of the entrance fee for sure. I sat on the edge in the cool breeze, listening to a swarm of seagulls squawking, writing my postcard, and trying to squint hard enough to see Africa.
Before leaving the country, I bought some Gibraltar playing cards to add to my worldly collection (€3.60) and decided to grab a few things from a supermarket for dinner. Upon finding a Morrison’s – a British supermarket – I literally ‘stocked up’ on familiar food (including Hobnobs!!) for a total of €13.05, which I would then lug around for days afterwards as I moved further south through Spain.
I didn’t manage Gibraltar on £5. Or even €5. It was a nice idea, but instead I spent €23.15.
You just can’t put a price on a priceless experience.
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