Spain Trip Report: Cadiz and (Paul and Jack’s Strange Fascination with) Gibraltar

I have been struck, many, many times, by the numerous similarities displayed by my eldest son and husband.

For example, they both hate smiling for photographs, they both dislike large crowds of people, they both love math, they both take what people say very literally, they’re both absentminded, they both operate best when given a guide/list to help them navigate through the minutia of their day, they both love to read, they both love puns, they both get lost in their thoughts (while forgetting about that thing I just said,) they both have dimples, they both love God, they both love technology, they both take life seriously, they both love deeply but sometimes struggle to display that love to the people that they care about, and they both look at me with grave concern whenever I suggest going on an adventure. “Have you even researched this? Do you know anything about this?…Because it seems crazy” two pairs of worried eyes silently query the whole time I’m optimistically describing my plans for fun and excitement.

So I can only imagine what was going on in their heads as I enthusiastically laid out my itinerary for a week and a half in Spain. If nothing else, anxiety was high. “Will there be a place to sleep?” (Jack) “Will I have to speak in Spanish?” (Paul) “Will I be able to bring a few books?” (Jack) “Will I have to drive a manual car?” (Paul) “Will I have to talk to people I don’t know” (Jack)  “Will there be weird things I have to eat? (Both) “Will there be WiFi?!?!?!?!” (Both…said with slight desperation :-)

And lastly, “Will we get to go to the Rock of Gibraltar?” (Both)

Now why on earth would both my husband and son, (the same husband and son who generally eschew new places, new people, and new experiences in general) be adamant in their desire to see this tiny piece of British controlled land? The answer?

I have no idea.

What I will tell you is that when Jack was about 5 I remember asking him where, if he could go anywhere in the world, would he visit? “The Rock of Gibraltar!!!!!” he emphatically proclaimed. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to go there and I wasn’t clear on how he’d even heard about Gibraltar, but there it was. I’ve remembered for 4 years.

So of course, when planning this trip, I’d already decided to include this (very odd) item on Jack’s bucket list.

But I’d never told Paul about any of this. So one day when he walked by, peered over my shoulder, looked at the map of Spain I was perusing and said, “hey, make sure we go to Gibraltar,” I found it funny. What were the odds? Well, when it came to Paul and Jack, the truth is, the odds were pretty high : ) Who knows why they were obsessed with this particular section of the world when nothing else seemed to interest them. But they were, so we were visiting.

Before our day trip to Gibraltar, I wanted to head to nearby Cadiz. Having driven back to the area near the naval base on Monday, Oct 9th (had to start watching for flights home by this point!) I’d determined that a day in the historic city would be fun (for me, at least : ). There were a number of amazing sites, a cool beach which I’d heard had the best sea glass and a cathedral that was unusual and striking.

TUESDAY, October 10

Cadiz is sometimes referred to as the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe, having been settled by the Phoenicians around 1104 BC.  It’s been a port city for nearly that long and has seen multiple conquering people groups come and go. It has fantastic architecture, amazing beaches and beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean (although honestly, the guide book had me at “the Phoenicians” because I love me some ancient history : )

We took the ferry from Santa Maria and stayed until the last ferry headed home. All in all, a really great day.


We were able to see the remains of a Roman amphitheater (which we thought was closed when we saw it from the top but happily we stumbled across the entrance to the museum later in the day!) as well as the remains of a part of the first Phoenician settlement (the museum has a video that they play with different language in the subtitles based on who has tickets. So to visit the Yacimiento Arqueologico Gadir you need to head over early in the day and reserve your spot for a specific hour. Thankful for Tripadviser’s advise on this one as it was amazing and I would have been bummed to miss it.)  I included the Tripadvisor links if anyone is interested. Even Paul was impressed by the history, which is no small feat, I can tell you.

After those educational endeavors the kids were starting to fade. And so we bribed them with gelato. This was our standard procedure during our time in Spain….because it worked and because the gelato was pretty fabulous.


A borrowed picture, since the one I took was blurry : (

Again, borrowed because mine was blurry…apparently I’d put the camera on manual focus at some point and hadn’t realized it : (

Headed home : )

WEDNESDAY, October 11

So, it was up early, enjoy a quick coffee in the atrium of our amazing hotel (I loved it! And our kids loved it! Especially the shower with side jets and, of course, the balcony : ) and then we were off to see the Rock of Gibraltar. During the hour long drive we noticed that the terrain around us changed as we drove south. Hills, and then mountains, appeared. Everything was green and beautiful. Clouds appeared (we really hadn’t seen any yet). In fact, our first view of the famous rock included the sight of it’s equally famous cloud formation named the Gibraltar Levanter cloud. (Well hello, impromptu science lesson gathered from the wikipedia article about clouds : )

Since Gibraltar is part of Britain, you do have to cross an international boundary. We choose to park on the Spanish side (at the port, which was much cheaper than elsewhere!) and walk across. Passports in hand, we stepped from Spanish to British soil. Pretty cool : )

And it stayed cool, as we took pictures in the red phone box, crossed the single runway for the tiny piece of land and heading into the main part of town. That’s where it became a tad overwhelming. You see, we weren’t the only people intent on seeing Gibraltar. No. It was as if hundreds of thousands of other people had the same idea that morning!! The place was packed!! I read somewhere that upwards to 30,000 people cross into this area on any given day. That’s nuts! Anyway, it quickly became apparent that both Paul and Jack were getting both hungry and antsy as we merged with the throng of people heading up main street. My intention had been to head through town, straight for the cable car company that would carry us to the top of the rock. Halfway there I was regretting the decision to walk and mentally calculating how much we could spend if we needed to find a taxi : P

But we persevered. Through the crowds (found some side routes that weren’t so congested) to the cable car building and then through the 1.5 hr long wait to go from ticketing to the car itself. Oh. My. Word.

But it was worth it. Honestly. The views from the top of the rock, the crazy monkeys and even the overpriced lunches from the touristy restaurant were all worth the wait. The kids were a little wigged out by the causal way that the monkeys wandered around. Brenn was convinced that one was going to attack him. Meg just yelped whenever one moved. Jack almost stepped on a mama and baby as he was walking up some stairs! Those animals are just so….cavalier! Like, we’re all just in their way and they could not care any less about us if they tried. Unless we had food. Then they cared alot. Which is why there are signs EVERYWHERE warning tourist not to have any food visible while outside. At one point we saw a monkey dart into the gift shop while the door was being opened, grab a bag of chips and then dart bag out with his prize. You’ve got to admire their ingenuity!

After the top of the rock we visited a beach on the other side of the peninsula (note: we walked…you shouldn’t. You should use a taxi. That would make you wise : ) before heading back into town to eat a hearty dinner of fish’n chips before making the long walk back to our car. A fun day. One that I think both Jack and Paul enjoyed. (Though I’m still not sure why : )


The beach that we visited later in the day

I feel like the monkey staring at me is a mama & we are commiserating. I feel ya mama. I feel ya.


Follow the Spain Trip Reports! Space-A Arrival AdventureSeville, Algarve Coast, Cadiz & Gibraltar and (still to be written) Tips for Travelers with Children (Who want to maintain their sanity)

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