You’re going to miss the freedom of wandering, the days that begun with nothing to expect, the trust in what’s around the corner, the feeling of wanderlust, the time when you were free to do anything that you wanted.
You’re going to miss rambling about the traffic-free streets of Las Ramblas, the unexpected good company of native Barcelonians, eating the jamóns of jamóns.
You’re going to miss scrambling for food at the market, the taste of sharing, the company of a new kind of family on Christmas Day.
You’re going to miss the endless series of plazas, the breakdancing lesson by sunset, the illusion of pregaming with Hemingway, the dinner at the oldest restaurant in the world.
You’re going to miss the thrill of making it to an overnight bus, meeting new friends who were willing to meet you at 6am in the morning, discovering entire neighborhoods to yourself in the middle of the night, the taste of melted chocolate con churros for breakfast.
You’re going to miss the lazy exploration of a long lost Arabian castle, the long climb up a neverending hill, the subsequent views that were worth every calorie burnt, the free tapas with every vino tinto.
You’re going to miss listening to the epic stories of La Mezquita with your backpacks on, the slow cooked pork shoulder, the mere 5 hours we spent in a hostel when we arrived after everyone else was asleep and left before everyone was awake.
You’re going to miss the fresh city feel of Sevillan streets, the games of vacation! with new friends who shared a love for internet meme references, the comparisons of Alhambra to Sevilla Cathedral, the lazy gardens and labyrinths of Alcázar, the realization of seeing a live flamenco show at its very origin.
You’re going to miss the hills of Andalucía, the easy entrance into Gibraltar, the feeling of walking through an entire country in 30 minutes, the monkeys trying to steal your bags, the overwhelming immensity of seeing 2 bodies of water at the same time, the breathlessness of being high in the sky.
You’re going to miss ferrying over into another continent, the sunsets over a country you’re saying goodbye to, the arrival into a strange new land, the fear of finding something that wasn’t on the map.
You’re going to miss the inevitable feeling of missing a train, the overnight in a city no tourists ever visit, the train station café that has no idea why you’re there, the relief of getting back on the right train.
You’re going to miss the taste of your first Moroccan whiskey, the lecture on Islam from a stranger you just met, the winding alleyways of the largest medina in the world, the cheaply delicious food stalls, the 4 hours lazy shisha session in a hidden café, the rooftop dinner while listening to the adhan, the argument over money, the epic bromancing over coma-inducing ice cream.
You’re going to miss the overnight train into Marrakech, the street theater of Djemaa El Fna, the inevitable comparisons of souks, the New Year’s Eve celebrations that worked out in the end.
You’re going to miss the haggling over taxi fares, the endless rounds of tasty tagines, smoking shisha over the adhan, the off-the-bone lamb, and running into Gerard Butler not once…
You’re going to miss most of all, each other; the company of different personalities searching for different things, doing something epic with your life, and yet still united by an inexplicable curiosity of wanderlust. You’ll look back and ask yourself: “how the hell did we do that?”
You’re going to miss it long after when we say goodbye…
…because I already was missing it when we said hello.
- At time of posting in NYC, it was -11 °C -
Humidity: 62% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear
It’s a symbol of arbitrary lines. A country within a country. The U.K. owned Gibraltar lies in a small sliver of southern Spain where for a moment, you can hop over to a different country and back by simply walking over some line and flashing a passport. No queues. No stamps. Not even a guard at customs.
Gibraltar recalls a history of being forward bases for various military invasions from the Arabian takeover of Spain to a British stronghold during World War II. The main attraction of Gibraltar is its “Rock.” A 450+ m high piece of elevated land, it is where the Atlantic Ocean ends and the Mediterranean Sea begins. At the Rock, you can find a natural grotto, a nature reserve, and a dolphin cove, all of which you have to pay lots for.
Getting into Gibraltar is probably easier than getting into the NY Public Library. Within the span of 3 minutes, you walk down where you have to walk, you show your passport whenever you have to show it, and then you’re officially no longer in Spain. Keep in mind that since Gibraltar is a U.K. territory, the euro is no longer favorable: the sterling pound rules the land here.
How to get into Gibraltar:
Walk down to passport control
and then before you you know it, it's 'Welcome to Gibraltar'
Gibraltar is walkable. It’s 1.5km from the border, through an airport runway, past the main square, through the high-end boutique shops of Main Street, past the Southern Gate, and to the lower cable car station that takes you up to the top of The Rock.
Inside the cable car up to the top of the Rock
The cable car takes about 5 minutes to reach the top and costs about 8 sterling pounds for a roundtrip. When the doors open, you are immediately welcomed by stupendous views of Africa, Spain, and the oceans, as well as the native populace of The Rock: the photogenic (and photo-hogging) macaque monkeys. These cousins of ours aren’t shy: they do their best to “interact” with visiting tourists, including grabbing hair and stealing bags. But it’s probably the closest you can get to have one of them hop on your back:
One of the little ones attempt to steal Jane's bag
Once you have your wits about you and you can successfully defend yourself against the curious monkeys, the Rock is yours:
View from the north point
View from the south point
The entirety of the top of The Rock can be fully explored within 30 minutes. From there you can either head down to the nature reserve, the grotto, or check out the dolphin cove if you’re willing to front the cash. Otherwise, feel free to do some last minute shopping on Main St. and head back into Spain.
Don’t be surprised if they give you a tough time at customs:
That was a joke.
- At time of posting in Gibraltar, it was 20 °C -
Humidity: 88% | Wind Speed: 12km/hr | Cloud Cover: few clouds
The challenge: 6 cities and 3 countries in 20 hours.
Leave Sevilla in the morning, arrive at the La Linea/Gibraltar border by 12pm, spend 3-4 hours in Gibraltar, take a bus to Algeciras, catch the 6pm ferry to Tangiers, Morocco, catch the 9pm overnight train to Fez.
To get from Seville to Gibraltar you have a 3 options:
1) Take the public bus, the earliest of which leaves at 9:30am. It takes 4.5 hours to get to Gibraltar, which technically wastes 2.5 hours of our day.
2) Hire a private driver via Totally Spain, which is flexible on pickup time, safe, and can get to Gibraltar in 2 hours. More expensive option ($60-$70 USD a person)
3) Drive on your own and hire a rental car, but deal with the fact you have to know manual and buy insurance.
We had a group of 8 people who didn’t know how to drive manual. And time was of the essence: We went with #2.
And what a pretty drive:
Your guess is as good as mine.
The Rock of Gibraltar.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who noticed:
- At time of posting in Gibraltar, it was 11 °C -
Humidity: 71% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a