The Big Rock – Gibraltar
Finally. Got the see this big rock. From our cruise ship, The Regent Explorer, we took a bus for a scenic ride through bull-ranch country and crossed the border into Gibraltar, a British territory.
Upon arrival, you have to pass through both Spanish and British customs, a process that can be tedious, but this day was a breeze. Arrival of an Easy Jet, however, did slow our entry, since the runway crosses Winston Churchill Ave, the main road into town and of course, planes get priority.
Once there, we were on our own but only had 3.5 hours. We decided to forego the gondola to the top and hired a shared tour van that would not only get us to the top, but to the caves and a few other notable scenic points. It turned out to be an excellent choice since winds shut down the gondola later and people were stranded at the top.
Walking down the main commerce street, we met Chris whose family has owned a tour company for several generations, “Official Rock Tours”. This engaging young man, a Gibraltar native, was a great guide and a lively commentator. We went in St. Michael’s Cave, stopped at an area where the famous Barbary Apes (actually macaque monkeys) congregate, enjoyed the views of the town and airport as well as across the straight towards Africa at The Pillars of Hercules. Legend has it that Hercules split the land creating the Straights of Gibraltar.
We enjoyed walking around, and as it turned out, it was the opening day of parliament so there was a big police presence and a bit of additional excitement in the area. We settled on a typically British pub, The Angry Friar, for a Ploughman’s lunch for me and fish & chips for my husband. As entertainment, we watched the guards change duty at the Governor’s residence just a few yards away from our outdoor seats.
BTW, when you leave Gibraltar you do it on foot. You have to cross the border on foot because they search the vehicles looking for cigarettes and liquor that may have been purchased to re-sell at favorable prices in Spain. That would not be proper.
A typically British misty rain started just as we were headed back to find our bus and make our way across the border.