A Mini Britain in Spain?

A few days ago, we crossed from Spain into the tiny British overseas territory of Gibraltar. I must admit that our main motivation for visiting was to nip into the Morrison’s supermarket and splurge on home comforts!

We had our passports out ready for the border, and joined the queue of cars waiting to get in. We’d been told by other travellers that this is where people knock on your windows and try to scam you, so we had our door locks on and waited to get to the border police. The queue moves fairly quickly but does have long pauses because the only road into Gibraltar passes over the airport runway! This means that the traffic has to wait for planes to land/take off, hence the queues!

We got to the single Spanish border police officer and he waved us through without checking our passports. The British border police took our passports, asked if there were only two of us, then handed the passports back when we nodded an affirmative. No one actually opened our passports once!

Now we were through “border control”, Ross was dying for a sausage roll and I eagerly awaited the chance to have my first hot cross bun of the year, so we drove straight to Morrisons! We spent more there than we ever usually would on a shop, but to be fair we hadn’t been able to go food shopping for days due to Easter closures. An hour of shopping later and with a full trolley, both of us were satisfied in the end!

As well as low prices on alcohol, Gibraltar also has extremely cheap petrol prices. Ross was the happiest I’ve ever seen him in a petrol station, with diesel at 80p a litre! Needless to say, we gave Victor her first full tank of fuel in a long time!

The most interesting thing to me about Gibraltar was the curious language of the locals. It’s where both the terms “gibberish” and “Spanglish” come from as Gibraltarians speak a mixture of Spanish and English! It’s really beautiful to listen to, with people switching between the two languages almost at random in just one sentence.

Unfortunately, we didn’t spend long in Gibraltar because, outside of the customer-only, short-stay supermarket car park, there didn’t seem to be anywhere we could safely park our van. We were plagued by warning signs about clamping whenever we spotted a potential space. But we had a nice drive around the whole of “The Rock”, including through some tunnels that Victor the van just about squeezed through! We both held our breaths and gave nervous laughs of relief when we made it out the other side without getting stuck! The beaches that we drove past looked gorgeous and you could clearly see Morocco too, so tantalisingly close!

Leaving Gibraltar also came with queues and border police looking bored and waving people through. Apparently it’s not always so lax – the Spanish can be petty over disputes and make crossing back into Spain hard for the British/Gibraltarians. But it was easy enough for us on that particular day.We are definitely going to come back one day, without a van, to explore Gibraltar’s labyrinths of tunnels and gorgeous beaches properly! I definitely recommend giving Gibraltar a visit – it’s such a unique mashup of cultures (though predominantly British!). It’s a tiny home away from home and was perfect for us after being away from England for so long! If you’ve been to Gibraltar before and have any tips (especially for the tunnels), then please let us know for our future trip!

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