What is the attraction of Gib?

I thought this was a great question (asked on my Your questions about Gib page) and I couldn’t resist answering it. Now! Immediately! Even though the dog blog and 1001 things have priority. You can read the full question on the page, but otherwise, here are *some* answers.

So, first up, practical attractions.

1) Money, certainly. My partner can work here, although it seems my skills are not in demand. Because we live here, we do get a good tax code too.

2) As residents with one of us working, we are entitled to Gib health care. So beats paying for private health insurance.

3) Convenience. I love the fact that everything is within walking distance, the rates office is five minutes away, as is the water office, the tax office, the bank, the electricity. At the most, those essential places that you need to visit are ten minutes away.

It’s taken me the best part of half a day in Spain ie six hours, say from 8-2 approx, to get one appt sorted for the luz (electricity). Bus from village to luz office, queue for hours, and then wait for bus back. Easier with a vehicle yes, but that really starts to get to be a drag.

I’m not knocking the Spanish system, although I will sometimes, but the joy of being able to sort things relatively quickly is so refreshing after years of Spanish queuing and messing around for something simple.

4) You’ll (all) have worked out by now that I speak (read and write) Spanish, so that’s not an issue in Spain. But it is nice to have the security net of English being the official language here. I can still complain better in English than Spanish. My partner’s Spanish complaints invariably include the word coño! more than once.

5) Our vehicles (that we rarely use :D) are Gib-plated. No road tax. MOT once every two years for private vehicles, and once a year for commercial. Compare that with a six monthly ITV for a vehicle over ten years old in Spain and their whacky homolgation (?) rules. ITVs (a roadworthy/MOT) were one of the few times we felt victimised for being guiris. Obviously cheaper fuel than in Spain.

6) When we had all our possessions stolen in Spain from the vehicle, ID, passports, money etc etc, I filed the denuncio, we drove back down, and we were let back into Gib with nothing, but said denuncio, and, a Gib-plated vehicle. No passports for us or the dog. But, we were registered on their system and we lived here. In the following days we could have got a fast-track passport (different to the emergency one issued from consulates in Spain or wherever) or the usual two week one. That’s only available to Gib residents and cross-border workers AFAIK.

7) We don’t cross the border in the vehicle very often. As we have a van body, customs (Guarda Civil), nearly always stop us to see if it is piled high with tobacco, to peer inside only to see a large furry dog. It’s their job. I used to get freaked when we first got stopped, ‘Hey! I’m not a crim!’ – but I’m used to it now and have been for a few years. Oddly enough the other day, I was saying how bizarre it was that queuing to cross a frontier and be checked has become a normal part of life, that I still think is exotic and exciting.

We also time our crossings so that by and large we avoid lengthy queues.

Next up, less practical, or emotional or whatever

1) I’ve got a history degree, and the history of Gib just totally entrances me. I think it is fascinating. Such a small place has such an amazing past.

2) As above – sort of, but I like to see what is left and surviving, so I love all the old buildings, again in such a confined space. I hate most of the tat new crap. @ Paul – Not sure where you mean by old mil builidngs turned into flats? I had better post some photos of buildings you may not have seen?

3) It does have a safe feeling. Yes, there is crime, drugs, vandalism, smuggling. But a place where young people can wander around on the razzle in the small hours can’t be that bad. If you want to wander out in the middle of the night, you might meet a couple of people wandering home and maybe a police officer. You don’t worry about walking around narrow streets in the old town, wondering who is around the corner.

4) For me, I like some of the cultural stuff. This is partly because I am fortunate to live near the hall where lectures and rallies (political) are held. There is a decent library too. There are exhibitions. I don’t have to travel to a city – it is literally all on my doorstep.

5) I love the monos (monkeys) wandering around Main Street. I am still photographing them even now, years after we bought here. One of those novelty value things that hasn’t yet worn off, even though I do have to tell them to leave my shopping bags alone. Where else can you see monkeys on your next door neighbour’s balcony, or around the corner when you walk on the Calle Real (Main Street)?

Monkey in Main Street

6) I love the Rock itself. It is spectacular. Driving down the N340 – we always look for the first sight of ‘home’. Sometimes it rises out of the mist. Sometimes it looks like an island. I love (as my regular readers know), walking to the shops and looking up at the huge limestone, green-covered mass. I can see it from my flat window. I love the cloud over it.

Gibraltar rising out of the Campo de Gibraltar, behind, Morocco floating on the clouds
Gibraltar, from the entry route to the frontier

7) I have botanical gardens five minutes away from me with specimens from all over the world.

8) I can see Africa, Spain, and I live in a British Overseas Territory. I can see the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Straits of Gibraltar. I am within five minutes walk of the sea.

Europa Point, looking across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa

9) We are a multi-cultural mix. I like that we have people from so many countries living in a small space, that Gibraltarians have an amazing lineage from all over Europe and Africa, and that we get along.

10) I like celebrating National Day, and that in referendums, Gibraltarians want to retain their links with Britain.

I could go on. But that will do for now. I suppose now – someone will ask me what I don’t like about Gib? :D

Thanks to Paul for the question and distracting me from more boring things.

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12 comments on “What is the attraction of Gib?

  1. Re the monkeys…when I was considering taking a job and moving to Spalding I walked into the town and there was a pair of ducks inside Woolworths – my only thought was ‘this is my kind of town’ and I accepted the job immediately. History degree? me too!

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    • Thank you. It was an interesting exercise, and not easy. It’s easy to say ‘I like living in Sydney’ (I did) or wherever. But actually saying why is another matter. It’s trying to put something concrete to the intangible ‘feel’ of a place.

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  2. So interesting that you live there. I actually feel honored we are “blogging associates” as I love our world and learning all about it is fascinating at best. Have you ever lived in the United States?
    If not perhaps I can post some things about where I’m from..
    This was great to read..

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  3. Interestingly, you don’t mention the weather, although I appreciate part of this is a comparison to Spain. Its 18 deg today in London, warm and sunny, its close to record breaking for the UK for March; according to the BBC website 18 deg is the March average for Gib. I believe it rains in Gib a bit more than southern Spain, which is good as water becomes an evermore precious resource.

    The other thing I am hopeful about is the availability of really fresh seafood. I know its not something you’d eat, but here in London, fresh seafood means freshly defrosted. The one thing on your list that strikes a chord with me is being able to walk everywhere. I find it very relaxing walking around, browsing shop windows or looking at the sea. Its a 15 min walk to the shops here, which is a walk I enjoy, although not exactly a peaceful one.
    Blu.

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    • I realised I hadn’t mentioned weather, but as you say a) it is, to some extent, a comparison with Spain b) it applies to most of the southern Mediterranean and c) it’s not on my personal list of top attractions.

      Whether it rains in Gib is totally irrelevant in terms of water as a resource as we no longer use the old water catchments, water now comes from a desalination plant.

      It is a damper climate than some of southern Spain, whether it rains more? Hard to say really. It hasn’t rained anywhere much this winter, although we got a couple of showers yesterday and Pippa wore his rainjacket.

      I thought you used to be able to get decent seafood in London :( Do you mean fish and shellfish? or just shellfish?

      The two suppliers here are going to be Morries and the market, I’ll have a look next time I go to both and see if they look freshly unfrozen to my no-longer-expert eye. Used to have a brilliant fishmonger/game merchant etc when I was a kid, and stuff really was fresh in those ancient old days.

      I know a lot of Gibbos go to Spain for their fish, but that may be on cost grounds, although they will claim it is fresher. Doubt it. I think Mediterranean fish looks disgusting (had this argument with a Gibbo!). My taste in fish was along the lines of trout, salmon, haddock, halibut, sole, smoked mackerel – but there again, I haven’t tried rosada, catfish and all the other unappetising stuff that flops on fish counters looking distinctly sad.

      Won’t take you long to browse the shop windows. There is stuff all to see. But the sea, the marinas, the bay etc on the other hand, are much nicer. Or wandering around the old streets between Main Street and the Rock. Or South District. Or in the Alameda Gardens. There’s always somewhere.

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      • I guess you haven’t either eaten seafood (both fish and shellfish) or lived in the South East of the UK for some years now. We no longer have fish mongers on the high street and Morrisons so called fresh fish counter very much isn’t. Its all very much plastic packaged these days. There are specialist suppliers online, who atleast allow you the pleasure of doing the defrosting yourself.

        Sounds like the markets will be well worth investigating, and possibly risking the car by taking it off to some Spanish villages and seeing what they have.
        Blu

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        • Yes to both of those. Last time I was working in London – Chepstow Place as I recall vaguely, I could wander down to some long huge street full of shops and there was an excellent fishmonger there. Progress huh? I am talking 20 years ago though.

          I totally forgot to look at Morries yesterday but I may visit the market today. As for Spain, in our village, (which is near the coast anyway) we get men with vans coming round on Fridays, Sats and occasionally other days, selling whatever is the catch of the day. However that would mean you visiting a random village one Friday and sitting there patiently waiting for a man with a van to turn up, yelling out ‘PESCADO!’ Best to take a book. Especially if MWV doesn’t turn up :D

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