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Gibraltar 2006

Having been away for almost a week, I was getting a little homesick. There was a cure, however. The tiny British territory of Gibraltar, sitting just off the southern coast of the Spanish mainland, is basically a piece of England on the Mediterranean Sea. They use British money, English roadsigns, red post boxes, and cafés will happily sell you a nice cuppa tea to go with your fish and chips.

You can literally walk across from the Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción and straight into Gibraltar. So, early in the morning, I joined the queue of people heading across, while the British border guards waved them across lackadaisically. They soon perked up on spotting me, however. I was pulled out of the queue and made to stand to the side for a good five minutes while the armed blackshirts of immigration silently eyed me with suspicion. Should I ever forget I’m not white, border guards are always more than happy to give me a sharp reminder.

Anyway, once the border gestapo were suitably convinced my British passport wasn’t a cunning forgery, they grudgingly waved me through, never wavering from their fixed expressions of contempt for the “foreigner” they hadn’t managed to keep out. Thankfully, the rest of my flying visit to Gibraltar was enjoyable and I’m glad I made the effort, even if it was only for a day trip.

The highlight, apart from the monkeys, was being able to see Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar. I was also impressed by the massive mosque they’ve built (with Saudi money) at Europa Point. Unfortunately, the generous funding doesn’t seem to stretch beyond the construction phase, as the building is quickly falling into disrepair.

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