Lady Stardust Faro-Portugal to Barcelona - 2010
Paul Collister
Mon 2 Aug 2010 17:37

Monday 2nd August


The mosquitoes are back unfortunately.  They got both of us in the night. I had to get up to apply anti-itch cream and Paul wrapped himself in a mosquito net.  It’s great to be here though. I couldn’t stop looking at the Rock this morning. To be so close to a place I’ve seen several times on television or in pictures over the years made me feel slightly awe struck.  I could see the cable cars going up and down the side of the mountain and tried in vain to spot some monkeys.  We’d moved the boat just before noon and are now berthed in brand new Algeciras Marina in La Linea which only opened for business this morning. We were the third boat in and the two ladies in charge were very friendly and helpful.  It’s strange to be in an almost empty marina – especially such a huge one.  The road next to the marina is the main one between Spain and Gibraltar so there is a constant queue of traffic going back and forth over the nearby border. They tend to hoot as they cross which is a bit irritating.  We had a walk around La Linea which is a small fishing village, the centre of which reminded us of Ayamonte but as the guide book points out there are no sights as such and we were due to meet a friend of mine from Wallasey in Gibraltar at 4 so after a drink and a snack we set off to cross the border.


Plenty of signs pointed the way to Gibraltar but even if they hadn’t been there, all we’d have had to do was follow the stream of people heading towards the airport runway which marks the division between two nations.  The history and politics associated with Gibraltar is fascinating and complicated. Suffice it to say that there is still a lot of contention about duty free goods such as cigarettes and spirits which are regularly smuggled (along with illegal drugs and petrol) across the border.  After crossing the runway – a fascinating experience in itself – we showed our passports to the border police who merely gave them a cursory glance and after a short walk, reached the surprisingly small customs building to show passports again. 


Kiosks and shops selling cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol appeared on the street when we emerged from customs.  Paul worked out that a packet of 20 costs about 1.60 but that spirits weren’t that much cheaper than in Spain.  It took about 15 minutes to reach Gibraltar’s main square and the first thing we saw was a red telephone box, followed by a red post box and a typically British pub offering fish and chips, pie and mash, scampi and cream teas.  Casemates Square which was once a parade ground and site of public executions, is a lively and attractive meeting place, surrounded with familiar eateries such as Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King. It has a British seaside feel to it with its gift shops, fish and chip cafes and ice cream parlours.  Leading off from there, Main Street is a long, narrow street lined with designer shops, perfume shops and tobacco and booze shops – all boasting the cheapest prices and offering special deals for tourists.  Mothercare, Marks and Spencers and Morrisons convey a sense of being in any British High Street but when we went into an indoor ‘mall’ I was shocked to see a tiny pet shop selling puppies and kittens!  We headed back to Casemates to meet Laura who will be getting married here on Wednesday and chatted to her and her family for a couple of hours.  It was a hot walk back across the border (no one bothered to check our passports this time) and we needed to hose down by the time we got back to the boat.  Late in the evening we walked into La Linea for a midnight meal in the pretty square, sitting outside the restaurant and enjoying the cool breeze along with several other families and couples.  The weather really does dictate the structure of the day here.