Let’s be straight here and admit this right away: Gibraltar is a pretty special place, for many reasons.
- It’s only a few hundred meters from Andalusian Spain, but it’s British territory.
- The border is actually on the airport’s tarmac. Like, literally.
- Perhaps most importantly, border control is very, very loose.
I was driving around Spain with a group of friends at the time, and I drove into the island in the evening – the sun was on its way down, its golden rays blinding us as we continued to head as south of the European continent as possible. We knew we were going to be a little tight for a visit of The Rock (more commonly known as Gibraltar) but we wanted to at least drive around the island for the sake of it. Just to tick that item off our proverbial bucket list.
First step was obviously crossing the frontier. We were entering British territory, and we figured we would have our passport controlled. Two things struck me at that precise moment: either Gibraltar doesn’t have a big budget when it comes to border control, or it just doesn’t give a damn. My pals and I drove right past the officer (on the airport’s tarmac, again; it’s a weird sensation to drive on the exact spot where planes take off and land, I’ll say that) with our Canadian passports in hand, and he just waved at us, smiling – we didn’t even have to stop the car!
I like to think that my Canadian is held in high standards and has a good reputation abroad, but I didn’t know it was THAT good.
Time was closing in on 8PM by then, and I knew we had to be quick in order to make it to the monkeys that live atop the rock – this was, after all, the whole point of our trip there.
Gibraltar certainly is an amazing place to drive in for people who enjoy flirting with death. Steep, very steep roads, with teeny little cement blocks that acted as railings – so tiny, in fact, their presence was almost ironic. I could almost hear them shout “Yes, like THAT will keep you from driving off that cliff, LOLZ”.
Very reassuring for the backseat passengers who are deathly scared of heights – and who just happens to be sitting on the wrong side of the car. WE HAVE RAILINGS IN CANADA. RAILINGS ARE GOOD. WHY DO THEY NOT HAVE RAILINGS HERE, UH?
my group’s my slightly panicked state and the fact that my heart was beating just a little bit faster than it should have, we did get to the gate for the monkey park, and it was absolutely deserted. Employees included. And yet the gate was open.
What’s a girl to do?
I had driven over three hours to get there. I wasn’t about to drive down that road from hell and risk my life (again) for nothing. My mischievous group and I did not think twice about this one – we parked the car right there (probably forbidden) and we entered the park after what appeared to be after hours (definitely forbidden).
But damn it was worth it.
There we were. Five outlaw Canadians just hanging out with the famed monkeys in Gibraltar, alone, and feeling like the coolest people on the planet. And at that particular moment, I really think we were.
Our visit to Gibraltar was definitely short-lived. We didn’t even get to Europa Point or the caves or any other great things to see on the island. But when I consider how unique our moment there was, I don’t really care about the other attractions. My time with the monkeys was priceless, and I still smile thinking about it today. And that was six years ago.
Monkeys in Gibraltar – Good To Know
- Because the border is located by the airport, there might be some delays getting into the territory if a plane is scheduled to land or depart. Be patient!
- There are plenty of things to do on the island besides hanging out with monkeys. Take a look at VisitGibraltar.gi to plan your visit.
- Try not to have any food in your pockets or in your bag. Monkeys will be quick to smell them and you will be covered in apes before you even have time to get your camera.
- Drive very, very cautiously in Gibraltar. Ask the most experienced driver in your group to be in charge. This is not the place to be reckless.