INT. TRAVEL ARCHIVE:
677: The Little Island
Escape the late-winter blues with a tropical blast from the past
675: Scenic Spirituality
Commune with religion and nature in an ancient land
673: Aoni Onsen
Return to a forgotten time at one of Honshu’s most remote getaways
671: The Golden Rock
One of Burma’s many splendid attractions hangs by a hair
669: Hida Takayama
For personal trips gentle to the soul, seek out the old-time charm of Hida Takayama
A serene stroll through history awaits at this seaside retreat
663: Cruising the Bay
Ha Long Bay offers a breath of calm away from Vietnam’s urban rush
Fox fires and bar codes help a rural Niigata town reinvent itself
535: Hotel California
Mark Parren Taylor kicks up the desert dust in Palm Springs, the perennial
Hollywood star retreat.
531: Race through time
The Xterra Saipan triathlon journeys through tropical jungle, up steep mountain
paths and across the sands of history. Tama M. Lung joins the chase.
527: Bohemian rhapsody
No visit to Paris would be complete without taking in the Montmartre district.
Bon vivant Simon Rowe dusts off his French to go exploring.
523: Slow Motion
Mark Parren Taylor touches down in the timeless former seaport of Lukang, Taiwan.
519: Rock of ages
From ancient times to the present, Gibraltar has always been an island of
legends. Stephen Mansfield sifts through its history.
515: Go west, young man
Simon Rowe takes in the big skies and dust trails of Western Australia's
East Kimberley region.
511: All mixed up
Mark Parren Taylor makes land on Macau and finds an enigmatic blend of cultures,
cuisine and heated competition.
505: Earth, wind and fire
A historically imperiled town in Papua New Guinea holds the keys to a magical
getaway. Carlo Niederberger splashes ashore.
501: Off the rails
Braving the 2,010 kilometers of Vietnam's Reunification Express from Ho
Chi Minh City to Hanoi is quite the adventure. Simon Rowe goes along for the
493: Rites of passage
From firecrackers and cheek piercing to divinations and buffalo races, Thailand's
most colorful customs come alive at two annual festivals. Mark Parren Taylor
joins the crowds.
489: Paradise found
Beaches, battlefields and a colossal casino provide tropical pleasures on
the Pacific isle of Tinian. Carlo Niederberger touches down.
485: Through the grapevine
Stephen Mansfield drinks up the delights of the Château Monbazillac
in southwest France.
481: Pleasure island
Saipan awaits the young and young at heart with its pristine beaches, pointy
peaks, and perfect amount of entertainment. Carlo Niederberger checks in.
477: Reservoir of dogs
Simon Rowe visits the Kingdom of Tonga, where storms burst without warning
and wild canines rule the night.
473: Into the bat cave
Sarawaks Niah Caves are home to hairless bats, birds on the brink
of extinction, and lots of bugs, according to Simon Rowe.
469: A fork in the river
Laos ethnic minorities battle the forces of time. Stephen Mansfield
goes upriver in search of them.
465: Action scene
Sick of the short, humid Japanese summer? Tired of the winter? In NZ its
summertime and the living is easy, the food and drink inexpensive, and the evenings
long and lazy. Mark Devlin heads south to explore and party.
457/458: In living color
Simon Rowe soaks in the glow of Samoa's kaleidoscopic streets.
454: From Jamaica with love
Michael McDonagh soaks up the atmosphere in James Bond's balmy birthplace
449: See worthy
Dan Grunebaum drops oar in the stunning caves of Thailand's Phang Nga Bay
445: Great heights
Simon Rowe packs his hiking boots and sets out for Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu
441: Split personality
There are few cities with such an exacting dividing line between past and present
as Lijiang in China's southwestern province of Yunnan
438: Fierce creatures
Simon Rowe introduces us to the untamed charms of Australia's Kangaroo Island
434: Leap of Faith
Simon Rowe dives into a tropical island paradise of waterfalls, reefs and bush
rugby on the Fijian archipelago
430: A week in Provence
Stephen Mansfield explores the historic festival city of Avignon, a medieval
diamond in the south of France
426: Outer space
Surreal sites, lunar landscapes and UFO sightings go with the territory in Chile
422: The Big Easy
The Moorish streets of Granada, Spain are alive with a new Bohemian rhapsody
418: Small awakening
414: Fowl play
The animal kingdom comes alive in the Galapagos
410: The river of spirits
Wading through soulful waters in Varanasi, India
406: Heading north
Marching to the beat of a modern drum in North Korea
Santa's lap - enjoy saunas, Santa and sightseeing in Finland’s Lapland
Seeking the past in China's megacity
Rising from the ashes
Mary King explores the rich history, culture and art of Croatias phoenix
The betels and the stones
Simon Rowe rolls with the tropical exotica on the obscure island of Yap
World heritage site
Land of hope
Salt of the earth
Tour the Uyuni Salt Pan
Suzhou and Hangzhou
The river mild
Top of the world
Memo from the Lower Mekong
Call of the wild
Mad about Madurai
From ancient times to the present, Gibraltar has always
been an island of legends. Stephen Mansfield sifts through
To the people of ancient times, Gibraltar marked the boundary
between the civilized world and the Western void, consisting,
as far as anyone could guess, of the Isles of Hesperides,
the lost continent of Atlantis and the uncharted horrors of
the purple sea of Hades. To the Greek mind, the chaos and
darkness of the underworld lurked beneath these outer waters,
into which no mariner ever ventured.
According to legend, Heracles (Hercules) passed through here
on his journey to capture the Red Oxen of Geryones, opening
up the strait by placing two massive rocks, one on the European
side, the other in North Africa. Gibraltar, together with
Mount Abyla across the Strait in Morocco, were known in Roman
times as the Pillars of Hercules.
If the legend is impressive, the geological reality must,
despite the absence of human witnesses, have been an even
more spectacular sight. Five million years ago, the land-locked
Mediterranean, its waters long evaporated, developed a fissure
where the Strait of Gibraltar is today. As the waters gushed
in, a massive, 10,000-foot waterfall formed at the entrance
to the strait, discharging the Atlantic spill into the basin
for the next 100 years.
Fellowship and community
Attached to mainland Spain by a low isthmus, Gibraltar takes
its name from the Moorish commander, Tarik ibn Zeyad, who
took the Rock in 711 and named it Geb-el-Tarik (Tarik's
Hill). The Rock was finally recovered in 1462 after more than
700 years of Arab suzerainty, only to be lost to an invasion
force of British and Dutch troops in 1704. Gibraltar was acquired
by the British with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in
in Main Street, a pedestrian shopping area running through
the center of the peninsula
Today there are both Jews and Moors (North Africans) living
in Gibraltar, co-existing to all appearance, on far better
terms than they do in many other parts of the world. The presence
in Gibraltar of a hundred or so families of Sephardic Jews,
Moroccan laborers and stevedores, and the occasional sight
of a woman in yashmak passing by on some domestic errand,
hint at the cosmopolitan, Middle Eastern fabric of Gibraltar
society, its varied sources of Mediterranean ancestry.
There are also people here of Maltese, Asian, Spanish, Portuguese,
Minorcan and Sicilian extraction, besides servicemen and their
families and other British expatriates working and temporarily
residing in the colony. The mortar unifying all these disparate
racial and linguistic allegiances is the sense of being Gibraltarian,
and the fellowship this inspires in this small and, by international
standards, marginal community.
Father Donavan, an Irish priest I ran into while staying at
the Bristol Hotel, the Rock's oldest hostelry, claimed
to know everyone, "irrespective of color, creed or
denomination," in the colony. It was small enough for
this claim to just be conceivable. I got my first look at
Gibraltar as a child in 1966 when the cruise ship I happened
to be on, after negotiating its way passed several ominous
looking British warships, docked there for two nights. One
would have expected a place like Gibraltar to have changed
beyond recognition since then. This time I drove in, joining
a queue of other vehicles, most with Spanish registration
plates, waiting to have their documents checked before being
waved on to Gibraltar's British ruling, left-side traffic
A sense of how confined space is in Gibraltar is immediately
apparent while crossing the narrow isthmus from the border
across an asphalt strip known as the Neck. Apart from being
the only overland passage into Gibraltar, the Neck also serves
as the colony's only airport runway. When a plane is
due, a barrier is swung out and the road is cordoned off.
When the aircraft has taxied across the road, an all-clear
signal goes out and the barrier is raised.
|A view of the shipyards
from the top of the Rock
Aside from a good climate and a few, easily exhausted tourist
sights, Gibraltar's draw card as a tourist destination
is its curiosity value, the sensation of being in a cozy,
slightly tacky, middle-class English seaside resort. Compressed
and self-contained between border and sea, Gibraltar fits
this image of a safe but lackluster British coastal town rather
well, at least on the surface. Any British person will recognize
the familiar signs for Afternoon Teas, Real Ale, and Fish
'n' Chips, identify the little fluttering Union
Jacks, Hindu tobacconists, shops like Marks & Spencers,
and note its respectable public houses, replete with dart
boards and cheerful bar maids from London.
The Rock itself, given that the total land mass of Gibraltar
is only two-and-a-quarter square miles, appears disproportionately
large, throwing everything at its feet into miniature, including
Gibraltarians themselves who, as travel writer and novelist,
Paul Theroux, once put it, "seem like a tribe of tiny
idolaters, clinging to their mammoth limestone shrine."
Gibraltar is now Britain's only remaining possession
to be ruled directly from Westminster. These days, Gibraltar
seems more of an anachronism than ever. "I perceive
a distinct sense of solitude amongst my Gibraltar friends,"
the Spanish journalist, Juan Rubio, recently wrote, "as
if history, slowly but surely, is leaving them exposed."
For the Spanish who live on the other side of the fence the
Rock is history, and they want it back.
Currently, there are no direct flights from Japan to Spain.
The fastest way is to go via Amsterdam with JAL or KLM and
then transfer to Iberia Airlines.ÊFrom Madrid or Barcelona,
you can take a train or busÊto the portÊof Algeciras,
the closest city to Gibraltar. From here, youÊcan either
walk into Gibraltar, drive or catch the bus from the station
called Empresa Comes.
Where to stay
Miss Serruya Guest House is a popular and cheap lodging, but
the rooms are small (92-1a Irish Town, tel: 732-20). For middle-range
accommodation, try the Cannon Hotel (9 Cannon Lane, tel: 517-11)
or Queen's Hotel (1 Boyd Street, tel: 7740-00). They
both have good-sized rooms, and adjoining bathrooms.
An Office of Tourism can be found at 18-20 Bomb House Lane,
and an information center in the Piazza Building along Main
Street. Both have good maps and other data. A cable car runs
to the top of the famous Rock, but it's a fairly easy
climb by road. Passports are still required to cross into
Gibraltar. Both Spanish pesetas and British sterling are accepted
everywhere. British food is also well represented in pub grub
and at places like Smith's Fish 'n' Chips
at 2995 Main Street. There is plenty of Spanish and Moroccan-style
couscous as well. Bourbon Street, an international eatery
at 150 Main Street, has a good general European and American