Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gibraltar, UK by Margot Justes















My first visit to Gibraltar was fantastic. I took 2 tours; the morning one was given by an Italian expat, who has only lived in Gibraltar for less than 3 years, new to the job, but knew her history rather well. She had a hard time keeping track of her people. At one point, she said. “I can’t keep losing tourists.”  Among other things, she originally counted herself and the driver in the mix, where in reality, she only had 13 tourists, but still hard a difficult time keeping us all together.

We drove by the British and Spanish border, a rather busy place, many people cross the border daily to go to work in Gibraltar. The economy is booming, real estate is quite expensive, and it is much cheaper to live in Spain and commute. 

On the way, we crossed the runway for the airport, and when a plane is scheduled to land they simply close the road, and all traffic stops. It is also one of the most dangerous airports in the world, runway is about a mile long, and after that it is a wet landing.

We visited the Kings Bastion, a fort that unfortunately has been converted to a modern entertainment center, and little remains of the original fort. My first thought was it could have been converted using the resources already there, and to keep the integrity of the building. It would have been a far more interesting place.

We also visited Europe Point, it is the southernmost point of Gibraltar, and the views include the Strait of Gibraltar, and North Africa’s tip.  “I can see Morocco from here.”…and indeed I could.

The walk down main street, and Casemates Square was filled with tourists and locals alike, the place was bustling, and a few British pubs advertised fish and chips, and by then the smell was mightily delicious, along with many of the usual souvenir shops.

The one thing about touring like this, the appetite tends to increase. I would have loved to stay in town, but had to get back and pick up the 2nd tour. Would love a repeat visit to see more of this bustling and vibrant place.

This tour included a visit with the Barbary monkeys, the delightfully curious and friendly creatures that live up the hill. They are always looking for food and are quite brazen in their search. We were warned not to feed them, and not take any food items with us; they seem to be better at finding food than the customs agents.

The monkeys don’t object in looking in your shirt pocket if something smells particularly delicious to them.  They are protected and receive fresh water, veggies and fruit daily, that is in addition to the food source that is naturally available on the upper rock. They are friendly, but we were warned that they are wild animals and will bite if frightened and provoked.

We visited St. Michael’s Caves, I haven’t seen too many caves, so have no basis for comparison, but these seemed spectacular to my untrained eyes. The colorful lighting added to the wander.

Then we trekked up, and up in the Great Siege Tunnels, and then we made the return journey down. My knees haven’t been the same since. These tunnels were dug in the late 1700’s, by the British from solid limestone,  an incredible accomplishment given the tools used, mostly sledgehammers and crowbars were used, with the help of gunpowder, under horrific conditions. The siege was an attempt by both Spain and France to wrestle Gibraltar from the British.

Gibraltar is one of those places that is still on my bucket list for a return visit, given the history, and the fact that it is a huge inhabited rock adds to the mystique and uniqueness of the place.

By the time I was back on board the only thing I wanted to do was sit, not move, and watch us sail to the next destination.

Happy travels, wherever they may take you.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com



6 comments:

Morgan Mandel said...

Those monkeys are cute!

Margot Justes said...

Morgan,

They really are, quite bold, and used to people.I love the fact that they are protected, and well cared for.

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Blondean Friend said...

Hola Margot,

Yesterday, I tried to contact you vía Internet. I would like to exchange some ideas about traveling and History of Spain with you. In case you can't figure out who I am, here are some hints for you to dispell the mistery:

The monkeys are kept healthy because the British believe that if they die out their masters will, at last, return the Rock to their true owners (United Nations dixit).

If you are interested about caves, you can call at Málaga port and I will personally drive you to Nerja.

The airport of Gibraltar is illegaly built on Spanish territory. In this respect I can give you first hand information.

When you visited Cartagena I saw you shopping at "El Submarino". Did you know that the Navy officers who run that NATO's submarine base were my high school classmates?

Please check Internet: nothing else would make me so happy.