23/07/2013 - 25/07/2013
After a long day of travelling and sitting around it was a relief to arrive in Algeciras. As it was late we just checked in to our hostel, had a cup of tea on the rooftop patio and then went to bed. We stayed at Lisboa Hostal, which was decent enough. We were only there a couple of nights and had our own room for a decent price. We only really stayed in Algeciras as we wanted to visit Gibraltar but it's really expensive to stay there.
So our one full day in Algeciras was spent going to Gibraltar. You take the bus to a stop near the border and then walk over into Gibraltar (going through a very brief passport control). It was quite a surreal place to visit; like someone took a part of the UK and plonked it down in Spain. There were red telephone boxes, lots of fish and chip shops, a WHSmith and a Marks And Spencer (amongst other things). Plus there were loads of British tourists. It would probably be a really great place to live if it wasn't for the huge swathes of tourists. I'd not realised it was such a popular place to go.
First of all we headed to the cable cars to go up the rock and see the monkeys as that's the big touristy must-do. Unfortunately that meant there was an enormous queue. As there are only 2 cable cars, which are pretty small and take 6 minutes in each direction, the queue moves quite slowly. In total it took us just over an hour and a half I think it was. Annoyingly, once we got close enough to see the ticket office, we discovered you can pre-book online and skip some of the queue. Still, we made it up there eventually. And yes the monkeys are as mischievous as you've heard. We were just off the cable car when one casually sidled up to the woman in front of me and then grabbed a bag of crisps from out of her bag, very forcefully. They weren't even obviously on display but the monkey spotted them instantly. Pretty impressive but also a tad unnerving. Thankfully none of them hassled us.
We just bought a one-way ticket for the cable car and then walked back down the rock. We then caught a bus to the coast to see the lighthouse etc. before catching a bus back to the main square and having some food. The food was decent once we got to order it - the guy serving us was useless. We then got the bus back to Algeciras.
The following morning we were catching a coach from Algeciras to Lisbon. We'd booked it online through Eurolines who are affiliated with National Express in some way. We were seriously unimpressed by the whole experience though (I can't see anyone writing jolly songs about them). It wasn't obvious where we were meant to pick the bus up in Algeciras, though we did locate the right area. At the time our bus was due, a different company's bus arrived. I went to check it wasn't our bus and the lady told me that our bus would say Linasur on it. This wasn't something that Eurolines had told us, so it's lucky we asked her. A Linasur bus eventually arrived, though it was half an hour late and just said it was going to Seville. Our bus tickets said nothing about needing to change in Seville, we were expecting a direct journey, but as it said Linasur we went and asked and were told that it was the right bus and we'd need to change in Seville. Joy.
When we arrived in Seville we had no idea what bus we were meant to be getting or what time it might be leaving. There weren't any departure boards either. So we just looked at the front of all the buses to see where they were going. Only one was going to Lisbon, though it didn't mention Eurolines and wasn't a Linasur one either. I was nervous it mightn't be the right one, but thankfully the driver accepted our tickets and we got to Lisbon safely. No thanks to Eurolines! I knew there was a reason I prefer trains...