2010 - Gibraltar
Visited 19th November 2010
(as part of the cruise aboard MV Discovery)
We had joined the Discovery the previous day at Malaga. Our upgraded cabin (7124) was very attractive and twice the size of our previous ones. We were also delighted to see a notice from Waveney and Milton affixed to the mirror – welcoming us back after our meeting on the Greenland Cruise three months earlier.
We tackled Gibraltar on our own as we thought that the size and British culture would make this simple. It did, but it was hard on the feet!
In the morning we took a taxi tour from the harbour with half a dozen others – on a pre-defined route which took in the Pillars of Hercules, St. Michael’s Caves, the Barbary Apes, the Great Seige Tunnels and then a brief tour of the town as we descended – finishing at Morrisons to buy water and health bars!
The Pillars of Hercules is about half way up in the ascent of the Rock and afforded some good views even though the mist was only just beginning to clear.
St. Michael’s Caves proved spectacular, even though our expectations were low – bearing in mind the number of caves that we have seen around the world. Gibraltar is all limestone, which makes it prone to caves and to the formation of spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. There was even an auditorium to permit concerts etc in these amazing surroundings which the Queen visited in 1954.
Using the roads built by the British Army, we continued towards the top of the Rock and stopped for a group of Barbary Apes who starred in several of our photos. They are protected and are fed by the authorities – it is said that if they leave the Rock, Gibraltar will fall!
There have indeed been various attempts to capture the Rock and in the 1780s there was a four year siege. During this time, tunnels were built and cannon installed to defend it using narrow openings to fire on the very near by Spanish.
Our tour then took us past the Moorish Castle, dating from 1160 and back to the harbour.
In the afternoon, following lunch onboard, we found our way through the town and back streets (passing the Moorish Castle again at 100 metres above sea level) to the World War II tunnels. These were created over a three year period and extend to about 30 miles underground. There was accommodation for troops and vehicles and even underground hospitals and power stations. We were shown the massive dining room area and where the dormitories were. It was incredibly impressive. Men worked underground for six out of seven days a week.
On our way down, we made a brief visit to the Tower of Homage, being the only original part of the original Moorish Castle. We then again passed through the Casemates Square and Ocean Village where there was the most enormous yacht we have ever seen.
Altogether a very successful trip and only one quarter of the price of the tours offered by the ship!