Friday, 25 January 2019

The best of Gibraltar? Alameda Botanical Gardens

Tree sculpture at Alameda 
We spent three nights last week parked up at the Alcaidesa Marina at La Linea de la Concepcion in order to spend time with a friend whose boat was berthed there. Being within easy walking distance of the Rock of Gibraltar we decided to visit. It's a strange place! Still owned by Britain, our visit began with having to show our passports, then we had to wait a few minutes for a Moroccan Airlines aeroplane to take off before we could walk across the airport runway to enter Gibraltar proper. Neither of us had ever walked across an international airport runway before so it seemed quite weird. It was easy to spot the tourists because we were all taking pictures and videos of ourselves right by this plane! The locals weren't at all fazed.

To be honest I didn't much like Gibraltar. After the relaxed attitude of Spain it was difficult to immediately adjust to the British all-in-a-rush style. Even things like pedestrian crossing etiquette becomes British - in Spain cars nearly always voluntarily stop when a pedestrian appears to want to cross the road. On Gibraltar (and in Britain) cars won't stop unless they have a red traffic light and absolutely have to. The shops are predominantly British chains - Marks And Spencer, Costa Coffee, etc - aI was overwhelmed by just how packed and busy it is. And expensive! We had been told that the monkeys at the top of the Rock are essential viewing, but it was going to cost over €15 for the return cable car ride. €15 each! And I hate heights!


Instead, we kept walking just past the cable car base station and climbed a crescent-shaped flight of steps into a welcome oasis of calm - The Alameda Botanical Gardens! The Gardens were founded just over 200 years ago, in 1816, but had been allowed to fall into disrepair in the 1970s. The Gardens we strolled around are a result of rehabilitation started in 1991. There is an outdoor theatre, a small wildlife area which houses exotic pets confiscated by Gibraltar customs officers, an allotment area where local children are growing their own food plants, an outdoor art gallery with additional sculptures dotted around the Gardens, and, of course, an impressive array of botanical specimens from countries around the world. We didn't visit the wildlife, but did spend a while admiring the art which, at the moment, is a selection of winning images from the Photographer Of The Year competition. Our favourite was this photograph which was taken in South America:




Ingenious irrigation system in the allotment 
Alcaidesa Marina at sunset

14 comments:

  1. I can understand that you didn't like Gibraltar. It seems to be indeed very british! And how strange to walk across an airport runway. It was such a great idea you visited finally the botanical garden as I see it is beautiful there. Thanks for sharing!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  2. I like Gibraltar. It IS very British and I agree it's quite jarring crossing straight from/after time in Spain but I found the surrealism of it amusing. And I liked the monkeys. :)

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  3. I visited Gibraltar as a 14year old, a little shy of 50 years ago. The border with Spain was closed and it felt very different to the UK in those days although it used the same currency. Mind that might just be because I was a very novice traveller. The shops were independents and the locals spoke English with Spanish accents or, in the case of the taxi driver who took us to see the monkeys for only a few shillings, very little at all. Despite driving along the southern coastline of both Spain and Portugal on a number of occasions, I have never been back and, after reading your comments which confirmed my suspicions, am not now sure if I would want to.

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    1. There are still some independent shops now, but they're mostly selling duty free booze that isn't particularly cheap

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  4. Loved the pictures. I've never been there.

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  5. I like that tree sculpture! Any time I've been to Spain, nobody stopped for pedestrian crossings and you took your life in your hands every time you tried to cross a road. Quite a few tourists were injured or having near misses. I'll stick to safe traffic light crossings in the UK thank you!

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    1. The tree is incredible art. Not sure it comes across in the photo, but it really felt as though the eyes were glaring at us!

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  6. I love visiting botanical gardens! We have a few out here in Southern California and the plant life above reminds me of the arid/desert portion of the grounds. Beautiful photos! Nice that you found something to enjoy despite Gibraltar not being a total win.

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    1. I'm a fairly recent convert to the delights of botanical gardens. Not knowing a lot about plant life - though I like to learn - I especially love gardens with extras like artworks or geographically-themed areas

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  7. Your photos are gorgeous but I understand your issues with this trip. The general attitude of an area can have such an impact.

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    1. We just weren't prepared for the sudden increase in pace of life!

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