The Rock of Gibraltar is one of the coolest sites in Southern Spain. I was staying in Tarifa, Spain when I decided that I wanted to take a day trip to "The Rock." There is only one bus stop in Tarifa. There is a bus that comes by each hour that took me to the main bus station in Algeciras. Once I got to the main terminal in Algeciras, I switched buses to get to Gibraltar. The bus that leaves Algiers took me directly to the bus stop that is right "next" to the Rock.
In order to get to the Rock I had to go through English customs. The Rock is actually English property. (So make sure that you have your passport when you are visiting the Rock.) It is kind of crazy when I had been experiencing Spanish culture while traveling through Andalusia, and then I crossed a line it was basically like being in England. Everything from street signs, menus for food, employees of businesses all spoke English. I was told by other travelers that you had to have the British Pound as currency for everything in Gibraltar, but most businesses do accept the Euro. I didn't convert any money since I was only staying for the day.
From the boarder of Spain to the bottom of the mountain it took me about a 20 minutes walk. Once arrived at the base of the mountain I had to make a decision. How am I going to get to the top of The Rock? It definitely looked like it would be a good hike to the top of the mountain. I had not met anybody that had walked to the top before I got there. I was estimating that it would take about 45 - 60 minutes to make it up, and the same amount of time to get back down.
My other option was to take a Cable Car. It leaves from the bottom of the mountain and would take me directly to the top in about 5 minutes. The only problem with the cable car is that it is so expensive (for a budget traveler)! I only had a limited amount of time since I was on a day trip so I decided to take the Cable Car. The company sold a one way ticket to the top for 6.50 pounds ($13 US), and a round trip ticket for 8 pounds ($16 US). I decided to buy the round trip ticket. The line for the cable car can also be very long depending on what time of day you show up. If I had to do it again I would probably have bought a one way ticket up, and then taken my time walking back down the mountain.
The Cable Car experience was actually pretty cool. I got in this car that has a 360 degree view of the whole city of Gibraltar, including the Bay of Gibraltar leading into Algeciras. Once I arrived on the top of the mountain I started noticing little animals running around...I had no idea that "The Rock" had monkeys. I took 5 steps out of the cable car and I started to see these little monkeys everywhere! The signs say "don't feed the monkeys," but as you can see they are given food by a lot of the tourists. The monkeys sit there and chill all day. They groom each other, lick the cracks of the cement for any crumbs, and play around watching the tourists.
The Cable Car Experience also offers an audio guide for you once you step out of the cable car. I had to pay 4 pounds more for this, but it is worth the extra money. I dropped off my credit card and proof of payment at the audio desk, and I received a mp3 player and head phones. This "guide" was very easy to use. I used it on the south terrace, middle terrace, and the north terrace. It told a lot of facts on how the structure on top was built, how the English have possession of the rock, and other cool facts and sites that you can see while walking around the top of the mountain.
I ended up hanging out on top of "The Rock" for about an hour and half. That was plenty of time to see everything and walk around to different parts of the top of the mountain. It is unbelievable to be able to look across the Straight of Gibraltar and see Africa on the other side. It looks like it is so close. What an amazing view! It made me realize how important it is to have control of this little piece of land. It is a strategic piece of land for any military that controls it! I was glad that I didn't have to walk back down the mountain! For more facts on the rock of Gibraltar check out Wikipedia.