Continuous 30°+ and a whole lot of sun cream later, I’m back home in Essex after a two week family holiday in the sunny, mountainous area of Casares, Spain. We stayed in a plush house on the side of a mountain, overlooking the sea. On a clear day, we could see Gibraltar in the distance, with Morocco and the coast of Africa past that. We were looking at one continent from another – which is pretty cool when you think about it.
We actually visited Gibraltar on one of the cooler days whilst we were out there; we got through the border so quickly, and even quicker than that we were latched onto by a tour guide named Robert. Robert, it seemed, had a very good way with words, and quicker than we could say “Gibraltar monkeys” we were in his tour van (which I am SO thankful was sturdy… and was actually pretty comfy) and speeding up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. The actual tip of the Rock is 426m (1,398 ft) high, and it’ll surprise you to know (as it did me), that the house we were staying in in the mountains of Casares was actually up HIGHER than the tip of Gibraltar…
I said that I was thankful that Robert’s van was sturdy, as going up those windy, narrow roads right on the edge of the Rock was very scary to say the least. However, the trip back to the house we were staying at was even worse! This was partly because our rental car was a battered, old, lucky-it-was-road-worthy Fiat with air-con that didn’t work (imagine that in 38° heat on the motorway…) and no spare wheel. The main reason was that the actual road (if it can pass as that!) on the way back to the house was one car width wide, with very narrow bends and no fence lining the side of the road – so if you misjudged your distance from the edge… I’m just thankful I’m still here!!
Anyway, we stopped at various points up the Rock to get out and explore. We saw St. Michael’s Cave, which is actually pretty cool as it has different coloured lights lighting up the inside of it; all of the stalagmites and stalactites (I learnt what these are when I went to Kent’s Cavern in Torquay when I went there with my parents about a decade ago – but they’re the pillars of deposited material either clinging to the ceiling of the cave or the floor). There was also the Great Siege Tunnels, the Moorish Castle, and my favourite stop of all – the infamous Barbary Macaques of Gibraltar. Right at the top of the rock is the home of the monkeys, and they were so used to humans being around them I was able to get up close and take some lovely pictures!
The actual house we stayed in was lovely though, despite the downside of it being half way to the moon… We didn’ t go out very much, for the simple fact that we were all too scared to drive all the way back up the mountain road to get back! The pool overlooked the sea and the mountains, and the whole upstairs just had glass windows facing that way to make the most of the view. You could even have a bath looking out onto it!
For the length of time we were out there, and from the times that we did go out and about, I picked up a few random Spanish words (I don’t speak Spanish!); I can tell you now that “inmobilarias” means “real estate”, as the house owner is an estate agent, “ahorra” means “save”, “rebajado” means “reduced” and “chiringuito” means “beach bar” (Google Translate actually says this means “open air restaurant/snack bar”, but it was used everywhere we went along side the English translation of “beach bar”, so you learn something new every day!). Random, I know, but if you ever find yourself in a situation with a bit of real estate that happens to be a reduced beach bar, you’ll have me to thank that you know you can save yourself a few Euros on it…