Gibraltar. A visit there with the family on our trip to Spain. It’s a strange old world in the end because although I had an excellent education, and came from an Old Colonial country. I always thought that Gibraltar was an island in the Mediterranean. Well it is in the Mediterranean alright but whether it is an island or not I’m still a bit lost? You see we drove there from Marbella in Spain, battled to find parking, waited for Bruce, Max and their lot to arrive, then walked, came across a border post where we flashed our passports and then we where in. People were going in in droves both cars and pedestrians. I was still under the impression that we were going to catch a ferry to the rock. After all, I only went to a Plumtree school. Now I am a very slow walker, always have been, but am now at the advanced age of 60 and very unfit. The long and short of this is that I was miles behind everybody else. So they stopped with an exasperated, ‘where is Spook’? I call it luck, or the art of knowing how to box very clever like. You see they stopped at a taxi rank and by the time I arrived they were already being hassled by one of the drivers. Now hassled is the wrong word because he sure knew his onions and everyone was mesmerised by his pitch. The long and short of this is, that he had us. So we hired one of his Combi’s and the Knobel family hired one of his mates. Thus began an amazing trip in and around Gibraltar.
The Rock of Gibraltar.
Photo courtesy of Max Knobel.
Now that is the rock of Gibraltar which can be seen from miles away. Now I found the whole experience fascinating as had read so much about Gibraltar during the war years. Now that I was there I finally began to see the importance of it all. The hills of Africa can be seen in the distance and the ferry ride to Morocco takes about 20 minutes if my memory serves me correctly? I must add I never knew any of this before so it was wonderful to be there and have such a knowledgeable guide. I kept on thinking to myself that during the war years they must have been sitting ducks and I knew Gibraltar took a terrible pounding in the war. However they stood firm and all credit to them and a stiff upper English lip. Our guide is giving us a running commentary on the history of the island and has a couple of drop down small TV’s which show us pictures of it all. He has his back to me so I missed much of the commentary still needing to lip read. Fascinating stuff it was to. Steve fills me in a bit when we stop and I never knew how much the Spanish and British detested each other, largely over this which has a long and chequered history of control by both sides. I’m mainly fascinated by how narrow, long and twisting the road up here is and often am left wondering how the Combi can even make it. Our first stop is what I remember as being called Saint Michael’s Cave. The rock is made up of Jurassic limestone and herewith some photos taken by us of the cave.
Now it’s a bit blurry but shows an auditorium within the cave and the stage is at the bottom of the photo.
Photo’s taken by my wife and they appear a bit blurred, maybe because of the special lighting effects or all the stalagmites and stalactites. Be that as it may it is all that I have got. Outside there is a great flurry of (says in heavy American accent), ‘stripe assed Bayboons’. It always amazes me how people love monkeys and watching them play. Even Winston Churchill was concerned about them during and after the war years. As far as I can remember they are no others in Europe and keeping them from extinction is an ongoing task. Even I had to laugh watching them during my smoke break especially the little ones. They are so human like after all. Barbary Macaques is the correct name for them but Americans cannot get their tongues around this (winks).
Photo courtesy of Steve Geach.
We keep on going up the rock and get to a place of tunnels hacked into the Rock years ago as a system of fortification many, many years ago, with cannons hauled up there and small apertures cut for them to fire out of. I was fascinated once more but was going through a stage of I no longer care about my blog so wasn’t carrying my camera where I would have been snapping away at everything in sight. It was mind blowing how they got them up there, not least the tunnels themselves. Further down one could see cannons strategically placed during the second world war years. It appears none of the others was interested in taking pictures of it either, how sad. One day perchance I can download some from the Internet? So herewith another breathtaking photo of Gibraltar taken by Steve once again, and I trust this gives one another view of the importance of the cannons?
Blimey, having said all that, have just found some courtesy of my brother in law Steve, so am going to add them after the fact. Sighs, poor old Dad eh?
Well our guided tour is finished and the driver takes us back into Gibraltar were we find a British pub come restaurant and settle down for some grub. I had a hamburger which made a welcome change. Slowly ever so slowly we make our way back to Spain, this time on foot. On getting to the runway we find the gates locked and an amazing scene is taking place. There is a British Airways jet waiting to take off and it goes down the runway to the bottom, then turns and it is all systems go. We have an iconic photo of it taking off right before our eyes. I silly you not.
I told you and that is our youngest Daughter Siobhan also trying to get a photo of it. Notice, front wheel is in the air. It zooms off, the gates are opened and one only has so many minutes to walk across the runway. Everyone zooms off leaving poor old dad miles behind, but, I made it in time. So ends our trip to Gibraltar, tomorrow Ronda and I trust you are all holding your breath in anticipation?