Crossing an airstrip for a Guinness in Gibraltar

Since the Rock of Gibraltar is a stone’s throw away from Algeciras, my travel companion and I thought it would be a cool idea to cross the border and quench our thirst with a Guinness. Gibraltar is a narrow peninsula that is located at the edge of the Mediterranean and is best known for its massive shield of rock. Believe it or not, you need a passport to cross into Gibraltar, as it is a British colony and you are no longer in Spain!  A little taste of jolly old England where you can indulge in British ale, dine on fish and chips and ride the red double-decker buses. The British pound is the currency that is accepted so leave your Euros at home.   Where else in the world are you able to scoot across a live airstrip in order to enter another country?


Yes, you heard that correctly. You have to dash across an airstrip in order to get into Gibraltar. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes and hesitantly placed my pink-sneakered foot on the paved runway, I wouldn’t have believed it either! The airstrip is closed several times a day in order to accommodate airplanes that either take off or land on the runway. Uniquely shared by both pedestrians and by aircraft, this landing strip is definitely one of a kind!

Yikes!!  Exiting the bus in the Spanish border town of La Linea, about a 45 minute journey from Algeciras, I came face to face with the white lettered sign strategically placed at the front of the runway, advising pedestrians to “please cross quickly”.   Needless to say, I was both intrigued and intimidated by the red plaque, warning unsuspecting pedestrians to be on the lookout for airplanes.

AIRFIELD AHEAD .  You are now crossing a live runway. Pedestrians are to keep within the white lines. Please cross quickly.


Trying to outrun the incessant rain in Barcelona, Alicante and Algeciras and escape the wrath of my attached to the hip unwelcome stalker aka “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the Plain”, I now faced the challenge of having to also dodge oncoming aircraft. Like really? Could it get any worse? Yup, it could and it did, as the second that I stepped off the bus, tempestuous wind and cascading rain successfully succeeded in their mission of drenching me from head to toe.  Yup, nothing like being blasted by hurling hail, driving sleet and gale-force winds day after miserable day.

 Two weeks of steady unintermittent rain can make any sane person lose their marbles and say and do things that are completely out of character.  Needless to say, I was no longer the cool, calm and collected Nora but an inconsolable rain-soaked cranky shell of a once lively, content and cheerful person. My travel buddy was close to disowning me as a friend, possibly plotting to leave Spain without me and seek refuge in the pubs of Gibraltar and celebrate his freedom by indulging in the numerous British ales that were readily available.

Umbrella in hand, scanning the open runway for oncoming aircraft, I practically broke the sound barrier as I hightailed across the pavement, lingering only long enough to get my passport stamped at the border.

Whew!! Safe from possible wind shear from oncoming planes, my mood brightened as I scanned the multitude of pubs, fish and chip stands and shops that lined the streets. I could feel my heart rate accelerate as I spotted the various British goods for sale in the shop windows. Look...there’s Marks & Spencer’s and the ever so trendy Top Shop, a favourite haunt of newly royal Kate Middleton.  By crossing over into this British colony, I had now saved myself a ton on airfare, as I didn’t have to jet to London to indulge in my shopping addiction, as these labels were readily available to me right here and now.

Amazing how the allure of a new, limited-edition designer handbag can elevate one’s mood and transform one from an ogre to a most agreeable and fabulous travel companion. Here’s to enjoying that Guinness and spending every last sterling pound!!

Come skedaddle across the runway to Gibraltar with me and discover a taste of Britain in the rain-soaked Mediterranean...


Pink Sneakered Facts about Gibraltar:

The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht handed Gibraltar over to the British, giving this Spanish territory monarchist allegiance to the Queen.

 This narrow peninsula is less than 4 square miles and is best-known as the Rock.

The massive Rock jutting out of the Strait of Gibraltar is an impressive 1400 feet high.

 Spain and Gibraltar have a somewhat uneasy alliance as this uniquely British colony is situated on the edge of the Mediterranean and is surrounded by Spanish territory on all sides.

The Rock is home to the famous tail-less Barbary apes and according to legend, as long as the apes inhabit the Rock, so will the Brits.

We were advised not to feed the apes and to watch our belongings as the apes loved to snatch tourist’s sunglasses, purses and anything that they could get their grubby big hands on. It was good to know that I wasn’t the only one who had a handbag hoarding issue!

If planning to stay overnight, be wise to bring British three-pronged electrical appliances, as your Spanish European two-pronged ones will be useless and will not work.

Exchange your Euros for British Sterling and Pounds.

Bring your passport with you, as it is required in order to cross the border into Gibraltar.

This British colony is a VAT and tax-free shopping mecca, indulgently catering to your inner shopaholic wants!

Last but not least and most importantly....don’t shuffle or leisurely saunter when crossing the airstrip!!

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