Gibraltar: The Rock and The Monkeys

Look! Off in the distance! It's the coast of Africa. We didn't stop in for a visit.
Look! Off in the distance! It’s the coast of Africa. We didn’t stop in for a visit.

At the southern tip of Spain lies the tiny peninsula of Gibraltar, that is actually a British territory. They drive on the right side of the street, speak several different languages and have an airport that is crossed by a heavily trafficked street. It’s an oddly charming place.

On our sail into the port, we passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and had a glorious view of the coast of Africa, as well as many cargo ships and cruise ships. The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. It was a beautiful morning, but we could see the clouds rolling in.

Even the apes enjoy the view from the Top of The Rock.
Even the apes enjoy the view from the Top of The Rock.

The Rock is the thing to see here. The Rock of Gibraltar is a 1,400-foot high limestone, well, rock, with a nature preserve, 300 apes, and a series of tunnels. We began our exploration by strolling through the town to the cable car to the Top of The Rock. (It seemed an unnecessary climb when there was a perfectly good alternative.) We did manage to get a bit lost and walk an extra mile or so around several apartment buildings en route to the cable car, but we made it eventually.

After a short fifteen minute wait, we were inching up way to the top of the rock.  It was cold, windy and slightly rainy. Naturally, we decided to take the long way and walk down. After all, our ship was not scheduled to leave until midnight, and I was severely in need of exercise.

Selfie with an ape, because I could.
Selfie with an ape, because I could.

Barbary apes greeted us as we exited the cable car, and we would continue to see them throughout our stroll. From the top, we made our way to St. Michael’s Cave to view the impressive stalagmites and stalactites, complete with colored lights and music. Despite the crowds arriving via taxi, we were able to walk right in and enjoy the surroundings. There we saw more tailless apes, jumping on taxis and trying, with limited success, to steal people’s hats. Tip: Don’t bring any food with you to the Top of The Rock as the apes will try to steal it from you, and they are crafty little suckers.

Our view from the top.
Our view from the top.

We continued our trek down and came across what looked like a steeper trail option, and a shortcut. By that point, I was willing to take any type of shortcut available to me. (By the end of the day, I had logged about 10 miles on the fitbit, and did not need any more steps.)  The Rock itself is not terribly user-friendly. Walking down is an option many people choose, yet the trails are lacking many markings. Fortunately, we made it.

The color-changing lights in St. Michael's Cave gave the stalagmites an eerie vibe.
The color-changing lights in St. Michael’s Cave gave the stalagmites an eerie vibe.

Our time in Gibraltar was lovely. The weather cleared by the time we got to the middle of The Rock, making the rest of the trek quite warm. But the excursion to the top is something you really only need to do once.

 

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