The weekend saw another internet first. But before that – a little about Gibraltar street names. The two are oddly connected.
Partner was walking the dog as usual and someone Spanish stopped to ask directions. This happens all the time.
‘Where is Calle Real?’ they asked in Spanish. Partner gave them directions on how to get to Main Street. Calle Real is the Spanish for Main Street.
‘And what is this street called in Spanish?’ asked the invaders. They were standing on Queensway which is on reclaimed land outside the city walls.
‘It doesn’t have a name in Spanish,’ explained Partner patiently. Now you could translate it into Spanish but this is the whole issue about Gib street names. The old ones have Spanish names, the new ones don’t.
Anyway, at this point he got impatient and started speaking to them in English which, of course, they couldn’t understand. Something on the lines of Gibraltar is British and we speak English here.
And then the arrogant Brit and the Spanish dog from the campo marched off leaving the bewildered Spaniards to find their way to Calle Real.
There is an excellent book called ‘The Streets of Gibraltar’ by Tito Benady which gives some of Gibraltar’s history on a geographical basis and explains the street names.
Apparently most of the street names only became official in the 1870s when signs were put up by the police.
But, as you dear readers know by now, Gibraltarians are bi-lingual and happily continued to refer to the street names in Spanish which apparently caused more than a bit of confusion to new arrivals in Gibraltar, particularly service staff. Whereupon a list was drawn up of the two sets of names, the official English ones, and the popular Spanish ones.
So as you can work out from this, the Spanish street names date back to older Gibraltar and exclude the newer areas. Most of the streets within the city walls have Spanish names, although Calle Real is the one most used. Even my street has a Spanish name.
The two other principal streets in Gibraltar that run parallel to Main Street are Irish Town and Engineers Lane/Governor’s Street/Town Range.
Irish Town was originally Calle de Santa Ana after a hermitage of that name. Engineer’s Lane was Calle del Gobernado, Governor’s Street was Calle Cordoneros, and Town Range was Calle Cuarteles referring to the barracks.
Following Town Range up to Prince Edward’s Gate (1790) you pass a new(ish) block of government houses called St Jago’s. There was an old church of Santiago near the gate and this is where the name St Jago’s comes from. I’d always wondered about that. Pays to know your history.
Moving swiftly up to date, Pippa had been asked for a date by The Artist Sofia from my post of a couple of weeks ago.
So we all agreed to meet up in the morning before it got too hot for a Sunday walk. Sofia’s mother pointed out that I had mentioned on my blog how charming Sofia was but didn’t say whether or not I liked her parents. Ooops! Sorry about that.
In fact, on the walk there are no pictures of cute child with big furry dog because I was too busy talking to her parents while Sofia and Partner were looking after Pippa.
How nice it was to go for a walk with interesting people who were so easy to talk to. The time flew by. The last time we took an internet contact (the one I drew a veil over on the earlier post) for a walk, it was moan moan, no interest in the surroundings and nothing to talk about anyway. What a contrast.
And the connection with Gibraltar street names? Well, my new friend had been in a Gib shop asking for something in Spanish (his Spanish is good) and he had been directed to Calle Real. He didn’t know where that was, but he was told it was Main Street. He knew where Main Street was, but he wanted to know where Calle Real was……
Sorry Jan. I should have written this post sooner, and saved you the confusion. The confusion caused in the C19th for British military continues to this day whether they are Spanish day trippers or English-speaking visitors.
After our walk we enjoyed a coffee at the beautfiul Queensway Marina and an interesting question came up. Are the street names in Spanish as well on the signs?
No. All street names are in English. Although most Gibraltarians are bilingual, English is the official language, and English speakers should have no problems anywhere. It just helps to have a little Spanish though. And when you speak enough, you do what everyone does and switch the lenguas.
With which, aquí estan los fotos of our walk.
I wandered in the other direction where I had taken a pic of tranquil water a month ago when we watched the flotilla. Same place, same rocks. Not quite so tranquil today. But equally lovely.
I almost forgot. On our return journey, a group of Spaniards accosted us. ‘Perdone. El teleferico está donde?’ [Where’s the cable car?] Except I am used to them asking for the góndola or the funicular. So I said ‘Qué?’ Very Fawlty Towers huh? So when the penny finally dropped I told them to go left and it would be in front of them. ‘Izquierda y está en frente.’
My American friend asked me how long it had taken me to learn such good Spanish. Um, that was very nice of her, but given that it took me two goes to get teleferíco, it ain’t that good! I’ll know next time though and at least I knew how to tell them to get there.
Over coffee, the two men helpfully (???!!) shared their knowledge of the word teleferíco which seemed to be one they were both familiar with. That’s men for you. Sabelotodos. (Wherein there is another story regarding my partner but not for today….)
And that’s life in an English-speaking territory where people speak Spanish. Oh and the internet first? Meeting up with an internet contact for the second time. Looking forward to the next meet-up.
Hasta la próxima.