The next stops on the southern Spain route were Cadiz, the ancient port city, and the lonely rock of Gibraltar, with a sneak peek of Africa.
The windy city of Cádiz was beautiful. The ancient port is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe and its architecture shows it. We enjoyed walking along the water, past the cathedral with its golden dome, and out on Paseo Fernando Quiñones (named after a novelist and poet) near the beach of La Caleta, and admired Santa Catalina castle, the oldest fortress of Cadiz, dating from the 16th century.
When in Cadiz, one has to have fresh fish! We stopped at a local restaurant and sampled the catch of the day—and it was delicious.
We drove inland from Cádiz, across Los Alcornocales Natural Park, past villages of white houses perched on rolling hills, guarded by stone citadels. It was so surreal taking a peek at Africa from Europe! We looked at Morocco from a high point on the road to the rock of Gibraltar.
First settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages and later ruled by Spain, the Rock of Gibraltar was ceded to the British in 1713 (and one of the first things greeting visitors is a British staple: a red phone booth). One could still see the remains of a 14th-century Moorish Castle and the 18th century Great Siege Tunnels, which were expanded in WWII.
Once we got close to the rock, we missed one turn and ended up retracing our way, all the while snickering at a very animated driver behind us who was extremely upset at our mistake, like he couldn’t tell we were lost tourists… (as we say in the South: “bless his heart”). He wasn’t the only monkey butt we dealt with that day! Technically, the second one was a Barbary ape, a species native to the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco. While we were driving up the island, a cheeky little thing jumped on our wind shield, startling us, then proceeded to moon us since we didn’t offer him any treats.