Seville, Gibraltar, Granada, Oh My!

December 15 – Haven’t You Always Wanted A Monkey?

King of the Apes by Justin Korn

The Rental CarToday we departed Seville, but without first grabbing a chocolate croissant for breakfast. Before leaving, I checked on our car rental paper work and noticed we were suppose to pick up the car at the airport (as opposed to the train station which I thought was the case). We checked out of our hostel. jumped on the bus and made our way to the train station where we were suppose to grab another bus system and head to the airport. Instead, I thought we should check to see if we could pick up the car at the train station. The worst, they say no and we still have to make our way to the airport. Well, everything worked out perfectly and we grabbed our car from the train station. While filling out the paperwork, Jeff and I thought it would be a good idea to add on the GPS system. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any more left and we were sent on our way with just a highway map of Spain.

Luckily, last night, I looked up general directions from Seville to Gibraltar to Granada via Google maps, but nothing with exact addresses. With that and the map we had, Jeff and I figured out how to make our way out of Seville and onto the freeway. Once we made it onto the freeway, the drive was an easy 2 hour cruise down to Gibraltar. We first passed through lots of farmland which slowly turned into hills covered with energy producing windmills (what are they called?). We knew we were close when be broke around a corner and saw a single gigantic mountain standing alone across the water.

Little Monkey Do by Justin KornWhen we arrived at the border (Gibraltar is technically part of Great Britain), we parked the car and walked across. On the Gibraltar side, there was a tour desk setup, so we stopped there to see what the situation was. The English fella behind the counter started by telling us the cable car that takes you up to the top of the rock was closed due to high winds. He continued to tell us it would take us over 30 minutes to get into town and the cost of the bus and cable car would be nearly 60 EUROS, but if we took he’s tour, he’d charge 65 EUROS (for both of us) and it would include all the highlights. Jeff called shinigans and we said we’d come back later. We walked out the door, hoped on a bus and headed into the center of the city of Gibraltar. In less then 15 minutes, we were getting off the bus and walking up to the cable car to get to the top of the rock. The bus cost 2.50 EUROS and the cable car, which was not closed, was 8 Pounds each (27 EUROS for both of us). Jeff and I wanted to turn around, go back to the border and rip that guy a new one…but we didn’t have time.

You Scratch my Back, I'll Scratch Yours by Justin KornOn the rock, we checked out the crazy monkeys.  We visited St. Michael’s Cave which is a natural cave that was used by the British to hide and entertain themselves.  There was an entire musical hall setup, playing classical music while we were there, within the cave.  It was quite spectacular.

After walking around and checking out the monkeys (I think I have 200+ pictures purely of monkeys), we took the cable car back down and decided to grab a quick bite at the bar/restaurant that was around the corner from the cable car. After that, we jumped back on the bus back to the border. By the time we got back to the car, the sun was pretty much gone and we had a 2+ hour ride ahead of us to Granada. Again, between the directions on my laptop and the maps we acquired, we were able to figure out how to get to Granada, but once there, things got a bit crazy.

Either Granada is HUGE with several different parts or we just didn’t know where we were going. As we approached the city, there were several signs for Granada, but they all had a little name after them, like “Granada (Alche)” – This is a made up name since I can’t remember a real one. So, we exited and drove around in a few circles around the center of what we thought was Granada and eventually got completely lost and stopped at a gas station to try and get directions. The most frustrating thing about driving around was that the streets are either not marked with street signs or, the ones that are, are impossible to read while driving since they are so small and not well lit. After we got directions from the gas station, we got even more into no-mans-land and more confused. At one point, Jeff jumped out at a bus stop to look at the map provided there…that didn’t do much good either. Finally, I just let my instincts take over and we found our way to a freeway. We jumped on and sure enough, we were heading the wrong way. Now, getting off and on a freeway is not as simple in Spain as it is in the US. After a minute or two, I found an re-entrance back to the freeway going the correct way. At this point, we finally saw a sign for another highway/street the guy at the gas station had mentioned. We took that exit and in about 10 minutes or less, saw an exit for Granada (no extension). We got off and drove down the street looking for any signs or indications we were going the right way. Sure enough, we eventually saw a sign for our hotel! We parked the car on the street and checked in without an issue, after 1 hour of circling around…

We went up to the room (which is the nicest room we’ve stayed in so far – big, comfortable, big flat screen tv, etc.) and settled in briefly before heading down to the hotel’s bar for a much needed drink and some light food.

Lesson taken from all of this…if you rent a car in a foreign place, at the very least, make sure you have accurate directions to each of your destinations. If you don’t, you’ll end up confused, angry and lost.

Till next time…

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Categorized: Travel Diaries