The Runway with a Pedestrian Crossing
If you’ve never flown to Gibraltar, it’s almost worth it for the airport alone. We initially arrived by car, from Spain, and were very surprised when we had to stop and wait for a plane to land. The road, and path, go right across the runway, and all traffic and pedestrians are stopped before the planes can land. Football matches in the nearby stadium also have to be paused, just in case a ball should escape and roll into the pathway of an incoming plane.
It is both bizarre, and rather wonderful. We weren’t there long enough to walk across it (my family were keener to see the wild monkeys) but it’s on my ‘one day’ list.
When we left Gibraltar, we managed to experience the little airport from the inside. I checked the Google ratings before we left, as I wanted to see if there were cafes. I was interested by the one-star ratings (they’re always the most interesting reviews to read, and often tell you more about the person writing it than the establishment being reviewed). Most of the one-star reviewers for Gibraltar airport were Spanish and based their rating on the belief that the airport was on land stolen from Spain, so shouldn’t exist anyway. (Not getting into the politics here, but am tempted to whisper the names of the cities in Morocco owned by Spain even though they are clearly within a different country.)
There was also however, an interesting review by someone who admitted that they had never actually landed in Gibraltar—as every time her flight had been diverted to Malaga. We investigated further, and discovered that unless the pilot can clearly see both ends of the runway, they will abort the landing and fly to Malaga. Which means of course that the aeroplane is then in the wrong place for the departing passengers and they all have to be bused to Spain. This caused a little consternation for Husband who tends to arrive at the airport 16 hours before the flight (just in case) as the family (all strangely strong-minded given their submissive parentage) were not easily persuaded to travel hours before the flight to a little airport which we could walk to in twenty minutes.
All was fine though. We arrived at the airport a couple of hours before the flight, and the check-in desk was actually open (a rare novelty for my family). There was then an excited few minutes when the boys spotted the price of the alcohol in the duty-free shop (I didn’t know it was even possible to buy Vodka in bottles that big!)
We walked from the airport to the plane. I was lucky enough to be sitting between chatty daughter and chatty husband, so it was quite difficult to finish reading my book. Daughter then looked at her holiday photos, and spent a happy hour deleting all the selfies that the boys had taken when she left her phone unlocked for a few minutes.
Final checks were done, the crew took their seats, and I concentrated hard on my book as we hurtled down the runway, trying to not think about all those cars and people who had been crossing a few minutes earlier, or about the length of the runway and the deep blue sea that was waiting at the end. Then we were up, Gibraltar was falling away behind us, and our holiday was finished. Thank you for sharing it with me.
Thank you for reading anneethompson.com
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I have always written a diary on holiday, so last Christmas, I decided to find all my old diaries and blogs, and make a book for my children. However, several other people also asked for a copy, so I have written a public version – it’s available on Amazon and has been described as “The Durrells meet Bill Bryson”!
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