It was by whim and chance that we decided to head south to this British Colony. If it weren’t for Rick Steve’s tiny addendum on day excursions from Costa del Sol, we would never have thought of Gibraltar. But Gibraltar ended up being one of my favorite days, marked by natural beauty and spectacular views. In short, you can see into two continents, three countries and the meeting point of two bodies of water. There are also hundreds of monkeys or “Barbary Macaques” living on the rock.
Gibraltar is located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and at the entrance of the Mediterranean sea. The territory was eventually ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The colony uses the pound but there are plenty of places to exchange euros to pounds in La Línea de la Concepción, which is the Spanish town bordering Gibraltar. The town derives its name from the boundary line separating the two countries and from the Immaculate Conception of Mary. If you forget to exchange your currency to pounds, fret not. There are additional exchange shops on the main street and many vendors accept the Euro at a 20% premium.
Rock of Gibraltar
Gibraltar itself is quite small- it’s only 2.6 sq miles of land. The British military traditionally dominated the economy, but this has diminished over the past two decades. As you cross the border, you’re first met with a long runway, home to Gibraltar Airport. You don’t have to fly in to this airport. Instead, a more cost effective option may be to fly into Malaga airport (some 120km to the east) and take a bus to La Línea de la Concepción, which takes 3 hours but costs under €20. You can then walk across the border (takes only 10 minutes). Remember to bring your passport, although they barely even lift their eyes as you cross.
Rock of Gibraltar- O’Hara’s Battery & Barbary Macaques
Cable Car Info:
09:30-19:15, 7 days a week
Last Cable Car down 19:45
Except 1st Nov to 31st March 09:30-17:15. Last Cable Car down 17:45
Adult Single: €11.25
Adult Return: €13.75
Child Single: €6.50
Child Return: €7.00
See website for other options
By far, the best part of Gibraltar is the top of the rock. You can take a cable car (built by Swiss Cable Car manufacturer, Von Roll) that will take you 412m about sea level. You can buy a one way ticket and walk your way down. From the terraces of the Top Station, you can get a panoramic view of Gibraltar itself, the Sierra Nevada over Costa del Sol to the north, the Mediterranea Sea to the east, and the Rif Mountains of North Africa to the south across the Straight of Gibraltar.
To get to O’Haras Battery, you’ll have to walk down from where the cable car drops you off towards St Michael’s Cave where there will be a fork in the road. It’s definitely worth going even if you’re not a history buff since this is the very top point of the Nature Reserve. No cars or taxis are allowed up here. The battery was named after Governor General Charles O’Hara who built a tower so that the Garrison could see any ships headed towards Gibraltar. Too bad the theory didn’t work out. Entry to the site is £3.50 per adult with children under 12 years free.
And of course, the monkeys- The older ones are friendly and much more used to people but do avoid the younger ones. They can throw tantrums and cling onto you or even worse, bite you. Be sure to keep all plastic bags hidden as decades of tourism have trained them to know where human foods lurk.
Unfortunately, there is no website/address information for this lovely cafe tucked on a side street perpendicular to Main Street. It’s a great place to stop for a quick bite and latte and they even have free wi-fi. The owner is super friendly who is bilingual in English and Spanish. The food was absolutely delicious and fresh. While $4 for a muffin was a bit overpriced, Sabrina swooned over its “amazingness.” Most other cafes are probably similarly priced, if not more expensive.
Toast with fresh chopped tomato, garlic and olive oil (£1.10)
There are several tables for outside dining and a few more indoors but it is a small cafe.
The Clipper & Lord Nelson’s
Steak and Ale Pie (£6.95)
Desarrollo de La Tapa, L.L
C/Fresca, 12 Bajos B Y C
It’s safe to say that we ended our stay in Malaga with a bang, saving the best for last. Manzanilla is an upscale tapas bar that serves very, very good tapas. It is by no means cheap, but they are opening up a place in Gramercy, NYC and we figured that it would still be significantly cheaper to eat at Manzanilla in Spain than in NYC (where prices could easily triple). Hence, we pigged out. Some of the course descriptions are missing, as the restaurant’s website is under-construction and I only took pictures of half the menu.
Taco Costilla (€3.50)
Corn taco filled with grilled deboned Iberian pork ribs, topped with BBQ sauce
Seriously, this was the best pulled pork taco I’ve ever had. Something about this just screamed GENUINE PULLED PORK! Not pulled pork slathered in commercially made BBQ sauce, but rather, “someone stood over the stove for the past 10 hours and put love into this slow cooked pork.” There was a perfect balance of sweet and savory to this taco.
To order a draft beer, ask for “una caña,” which will usually get you 6 or 10 oz. For a bigger beer, ask for “una caña grande.” The Victoria beer was the only one on draft.
Bravo por las Bravas- Patatas fritas en panko y rellenas de una generosa y elegante salsa brava (€3.50)
Panko fried potatoes generously filled with brava salsa
If the other potatoes we had on this trip were awesome, this blew those out of the water. Never mind the creamy, oh so decadent sauce. It was the potatoes!! They were impeccably cooked to crisp perfection with the inside like soft puffy clouds. Each bite was a giant juxtaposition between crunch and pillow. Sooooo good.
Croquetas de Besa-mel- De choco guisado en su tinta con mayonesa de yuzu (€2.90)
Croquetas stewed in black squid ink with yuzu mayonnaise
Let me preface by saying that I don’t like squid nor do I ever really plan on ordering anything with squid ink. Well, ignorance is bliss because we couldn’t read the menu. I assumed it was chocolate. The thing arrived and it certainly did not taste like chocolate. Later, Sabrina identified the taste correctly as squid ink. By then, I was already enamored with this croqueta.
Aceitunas Manzanilla (€3.90)
We were gonna stop then and there but the food was so good (but so small portioned) so we decided to test our luck. Here’s how it went down.
Me: “What’s aceituna again?”
Sabrina: “Um… Tuna!”
Me: “Are you sure? I thought it was something else.”
Sabrina: “Piggie, I know my Spanish. It’s tuna!”
Sabrina- DOES THAT LOOK LIKE TUNA TO YOU? CAUSE IT SURE DON’T LOOK LIKE TUNA TO ME!
And if you didn’t know, I hate olives. What a fail.
I ate three couldn’t stomach anymore. Half the box went to waste 🙁
Ensalada Bacalao Tapa (€3.00)
Cured cod with onion on a bed of potato topped with orange
This was an interesting tapa. I wouldn’t say it was great tasting, but it definitely won marks for creativity. My main issue was that this tapa is served cold and I think it would have been much better if they served cooked cod on warm potatoes. The flavors melded pretty nicely together though.
Burguer Bull (€4.80 each)
Bulltail burger with havarti cheese and “au jus” mayo
Initially, we swore off burgers since these were really just sliders and you can get decent sliders just about anywhere. But a table across from us ordered these and as the server carried them out, Sabrina and I nearly salivated in unison. When I re-read the description and saw that there was havarti cheese (which is one of my absolute favorites), I convinced Sabrina. Issue was, I couldn’t convince her enough for her to get over her aversion to cheese. She wouldn’t even compromise. So the solution was two order two- one with cheese and the other sans.
Good decision because that burger was bangin’. I don’t know what they did to it but it was so juicy with each bite gushing of tenderness. Somehow, the bun stayed dry! And the au jus mayo was perrrrfecto!
Triunfa la Luna Llena– postre de chocolate blanco, mandarina y yuzu sobre tierra de chocolate (€5.00)
White chocolate dessert with mandarin yuzu on a bed of chocolate earth
We actually had this dessert before the burger. It was definitely unique. I wouldn’t recommend it as a go-to dessert if you’re in the mood for something comforting but once again, Manzanilla scored points on creativity. Translated as “full moon,” the moon is made of white chocolate, which sits on a bed of chocolate crumbs mixed with some yuzu (east Asian citrus fruit). The moon has a thin delicate coat that gives way to the hardened chocolate underneath. The flavors, while balance, are a bit awkward together as the chocolate isn’t bitter enough to warrant the citrus. It’s worth getting if you’re curious, but skip dessert all together and go out for gelato if not.