Gibraltar

Monday, November 16

There were more painters on our balcony this morning.  It looks like they are going to do a lot of painting today so it is a good day for us to be away.  We are going to visit Gibraltar so we drive near to the bus station and catch the ‘La Liena’ bus which takes us to the border between Gibraltar and Spain. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory so this will be the fourth country we visit this trip: Spain, Portugal, Morocco and now a territory of England. We walk across the border into Gibraltar and then spend some time trying to figure out the best way to see the sights.  Although we did do internet research before we arrived it turns out it wasn’t really much help.  We finally decide to take a taxi tour which includes the four main tourist sights.  It is a bit expensive, 80€ for 1 1/2 hours but we realize we don’t have enough time or energy to take the cable car and then walk 7 km down the rock which is what we would have to do to see the sights. That wasn’t mentioned in any of our internet research! Yesterday we only paid 120€ which included our bus and ferry rides, lunch and the 6 hour guided tour of Tangier. We drive up the winding roads of the Rock of Gibraltar and stop at a viewpoint where we can see the Spanish coast and the city of Algeciras where we are staying.imageWe then visit St. Michaels Cave, where we are treated to a sound and light show in a huge cavern with many smaller side chambers and great rock formations.  I’m not sure if I like all the bright colours on the rocks as they are quite spectacular on their own. See this link for more information about the caves.  They have a rather interesting history, http://www.gibraltar.com/sightseeing/st-michaels-cave-gibraltar.html
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There is a stalactite that has been cut in half which was very interesting as it has growth rings much like a tree does.imageWe drive to a high point on the rock and we have great views of the Sea of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean as the rock is very narrow here, but even more interesting than the ocean views are the monkeys.  The monkeys of Gibraltar are tailless Macaque Monkeys.  No one knows how they got on the rock but they are now one of Gibraltar’s big tourist attractions. They are managed and taken care of and they are the only monkeys living outside of captivity anywhere in Europe. There is also a feeding station which has improved their health and helped to stop attacks on tourists for food, although nearby residents are still careful not to leave their windows open, or they will find monkeys in their kitchens looking for food! I love the mothers and their babies. They appear quite tame but they are still wild animals and they do have rather large teeth…

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Next stop, the Great Seige Tunnels.  This is the only part of the tour that was a bit rushed. The tunnels are quite extensive and we almost had to run to get to the end and back again in the time we had.  Too bad, but at least we got to see them.  Here is more info if you are interested.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Siege_Tunnels

imageI took this photo of Gibraltar’s airport runway from one of the tunnel openings.  Do you notice anything unusual about it?imageOur tour ends in the older part of town and we have tea and lunch before slowly making our way back to the border checking out the streets and shops along the way. Many of the buildings have balconies with plants but I thought these two were particularly pretty.imageIn this picture of the rock you can quite clearly see the tunnel holes where the cannons were placed.  There is also a flag right at the top that is at half mast in memory of those who died in the Paris attacks.image

Now, doesn’t this look like I should be in England?

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There were many big fancy shops but then there were also the smaller not so fancy ones.image

Now, do you remember that picture of the runway?  Well here I am walking across it!  Yes, the road and sidewalks go right across the runway, and just after we begin to walk across the sirens start blaring and they close the road right behind us.  We are the last pedestrians to cross, and as we stop to take this picture an announcement is made for all pedestrians to clear the runway!  They meant us!imageAs we wait for the plane to take off, the one you can see behind me in the picture above, we have a great view of the Rock of Gibraltar.  image

There goes the plane, right where we were standing just a short time before. It was quite something to see.image

On the bus home we are treated to a pretty sunset.image

 

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