AWAY TRIP REVIEW: GIBRALTAR, MARCH 2019
Walking around Gibraltar feels like you’re still in Britain. All the UK high street shops are here, as are red phone boxes and post boxes, British bobby helmets on the police, the Sterling currency and dull overcast weather. Gibraltar is basically Putney with palm trees.
The 426m Rock of Gibraltar dominates the peninsula and can been seen from everywhere. The view from the top of The Rock is spectacularly panoramic, but gale force winds prevails. The Barbary macaques, tailless monkeys that inhabit The Rock, are the only wild monkey population on the European continent and the highlight of the visit to Gibraltar. Europa Point, the southernmost tip of Gibraltar is also worth a look for the many World War II memorials and the slow motion crashing waves from the Straits of Gibraltar.
Scarce. Not only were the streets deserted over the whole weekend and nightlife next to non-existent, pretty much every local I met or spoke to was a Spanish person who crosses the border daily to work.
Hoping to try some Gibraltarian cuisine? There’s no such thing. Pies, burgers, all-day breakfasts and Spanish food is what you’ll get in restaurants. Gibraltar tries so hard to be British that it doesn’t appear to have any identity or culture of its own.
Same story with alcohol. Spanish beers and Guinness or John Smith’s Bitter is what you’ll find in the bars and pubs, even the upscale ones by the Marina Bay. The only Gibraltarian beers to be seen were bottles of Bushy’s Gibraltar Barbary Beer found at the airport duty free. And they are actually from The Isle of Man.
Just south of the airport is the Victoria Stadium. Open at both ends, temporary floodlights standing precariously on scaffolds, low tatty terraces taking up half of each side, indecipherable tannoy announcements. This ground is more suited to a school sports day than a full international. Irish fans were allocated 800 tickets and at least twice that number of Irish supporters were believed to have traveled for a game that was supposedly a 2,000 capacity sell-out. Yet there were plenty of gaps in the terraces at kick-off. At least the match programme were free.
Down south at Europa Point, next to the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim mosque is a big construction site. This is the location of what is supposed to be Europa Point stadium, Gibraltar’s new national stadium. From the look of the official website (http://europapointstadium.com) it might be worth a return visit if Ireland play here when it’s completed. And when will that be? Erm, according to the website, 2016…