After our time in Morocco, it was time to head towards Spain. There are several ways across the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, but we chose to check into the little town of Ceuta, which happens to be one of only two Spanish town in Africa. Checking out from Morocco took over 45 minutes as we waited to have our passports stamped. Unfortunately, the two immigrations officer did not have well defined lines in front of them, so it was a bit of a scene as people keep trying to cut in front of others. For some reason, every time I talked to a Moroccan immigrations officer my occupation of boat captain always draws an inquire. I don’t know why, but oh well.
On the Spanish side, there was zero problems as we passed right through and got on a city bus for a ride to the docks! The ferry across was a big sucker. It cost 35 euro and took about an hour. A funny story for you, Spain is one hour ahead of Morocco even though they are only 15-20 miles due north and south of each other. This caused some confusion as our watches said it was 1:15 and the ferry left at 2:30. The ticket lady said we only had 10-15 minutes before it left and we were asking if there was one earlier, so we would not have to wait over an hour. Haha. We finally figured it out and got on our way.
We landed in a Spanish town called Algeciras and is across the bay from Gibraltar. Algeciras was a cute little town and we walked along the seaside and to the city center both nights and had tapas. [Melek – in Turkey we have small dishes called meze but these are mainly dishes aimed to be served in little dishes especially with raki, where in Spain it seems any dish can be served as tapas. I guess it more means little bit of tasting from different dishes.]
We stayed in Algeciras for two nights, because I figured being so close to Gibraltar I had to visit. ???? If you do go keep in mind that it is not part of the EU and you may need a special visa. Lucky for me I did not need a visa and there was a bus that went to that side of the bay. Going through customs was easy for me, but if you come by car there seemed to be a long line (funny thing is that coming back to Spain there was no real checks at all). Once past passport control you walk across an airport runway. I am not kidding. The Rock sticks straight up and the only place to put an airport during WW2 was to go parallel to the Spanish boarder.
The runway is just another example to how Gibraltar history has been affected by its strategic military location. Tariq ibn Ziyad landed his Arab forces her in 711 as his starting point for the invasion of Spain, in fact Gibraltar’s name comes from Jabal Tariq (Mountain of Tariq). Even though Arabs were now here it was not until 1160 that the Arabs built any type of defense here. Since that time, it changed hands between the Arabs and Spanish 4-5 times before the Arabs were expelled from Spain altogether. Spain held it for several hundred years, but lost it to Great Britain in 1704. It has been British land since then, but Spain has tried to recapture it several times over the last 300 years.
On Sunday I will write all about my great, but tiring day exploring The Rock!