Up on the Rock

GIBRALTAR. Have you ever heard of the Rock of Gibraltar? For some reason it conjurs up memories of life insurance in my mind! I think there used to be an insurance company with that name when I was growing up.

This is one of the last bits of the British Empire upon which the sun never set, Gibraltar is a quirky mix of Anglican propriety, "God Save the Queen", English bookstores, English pubs, military memories, and tourist shops.

Europe is only eight miles from Africa at this point, and the straits are 36 miles long. Whoever controls Gibraltar and the harbor at its base is in a good position to control the passage between Atlantic and Mediterranean waters. The Rock itselt is 1,396 feet high with a sheer vertical force to the east. Although the military history is rich, I was more interested in the astounding feeling that you had stepped into an English colony.

Gibraltar is less than three square miles and I think Don and I covered it all on foot. We had a full day here so had plenty of time to meander around enjoying the sites. We spent some time in Trafalgar cemetary - a reminder of the colony's English military heritage. Although, I have to admit, my mind was drawn to a dinner scene in Jane Austen's Persuasion wherein The Battle of Trafalgar was discussed.

I enjoyed my 'Fish and Chips' for the first time in the Gibraltar Arms Pub. Yummy!

The actual Rock of Gibraltar was the colony's best sight. We took a cable car ride to the top admiring views of the port and the Emerald Princess the whole way up. The views from the top were stupendous and homo sapiens were not the only admirers of it. There were many seagulls that I enjoyed taking photographs of. And, the quirky apes! Oh my, the quirky apes!

The Rock is home to about 200 apes (actually, tailless monkeys). The males are bigger, females have beards, and newborns are black. They live about 15-20 years. Legend has it that as long as the apes remain here, so will the Brits. We were advised to keep our distance from the apes and to beware of their kleptomaniac tendencies. We witnessed that tendency firsthand when one grabbed a candy bar away from a lady on our tour.

The cable car took us to the summit of the spectacular Rock itself. The large rock mass was nearly a mile long rising 1,400 feet high with very sheer faces. According to legend, this was one of the Pillars of Hercules marking the edge of the known world in ancient times. Local guides say that these pillars are the only places on the planet where you can see two seas and two continents at the same time. Don and I enjoyed the 360-degree view of Morocco, the Strait of Gibraltar and the bay. Awesome views!

Did you get my postcard?