Published: June 21st 2012June 21st 2012
Today was our first day of vacation, we got to sleep late! Our wake up was 7:30 Am rather than 6:30 as usual. Another buffet breakfast and we were off to the Rock of Gibraltar, a state of the British Crown. The rock is 200 million year old limestone formation separating Spain from Africa through the straits of Gibraltar. Since we are leaving Spain and entering Britain, we had to pass passport control both onto and off of the Rock.
As Rick put it, this was Security Theater as they really did not look at anything. They just looked at our passports and passed us along. Although simple, it was very confusing for some of our party who were 1not travelers. They wanted to know why we needed to do this but no explanation was sufficient. We just exited the bus and followed instructions. Without checking anything they just passed us through. Boy, I really do feel more secure!
On the Rock we had an excellent tour guide. He was an educated ornithologist, married to a primatologist. He was born on the rock and therefore a British citizen and proud of it. He was also informative and
Rock of Gibraltar
funny. He also gave us an excellent history lesson.
The rock had been a fortification for the Moors, the Muslims, the British and the French. It has been owned by the British for the last 306 years. The rock protects the strait of Gibraltar a passage that is only 9 miles wide and separates Africa from Spain. So this was a very important historical fortification. The British still maintain military control over the Rock.
Today was a little hotter, about 105 degrees but the wind was brisk and cool so the tour was very pleasant. We boarded small busses for our journey up winding roads to see the panoramic views. We then stopped as one of the caves, discovered by the Romans in 700 AD. The cave is both a natural wonder and a natural auditorium where they hold concerts. It also served as an American Hospital during WW2. General Dwight Eisenhower also commanded the troops from this location so even on more modern times it still played a pivotal role in protection.
Next we went to the animal sanctuary. Here we learned that there are over 300 species of migratory birds on the rock, as well
Rock of Gibraltar
Mosque on the rock
as over 3000 species of plants. The best part however was the population of monkeys known as Macaques. This monkey has no tail and is native to Africa. They came here on ships from Africa and have colonized the rock ever since.
The population exceeds 500 animals but the land mass can only sustain 300. Each monkey is tattooed on the inside hind left leg with their number and family group. This allows the keepers to monitor both population and health of the troop. There is a program underway to capture family troops and return them to parts of Africa from whence they came thus allowing the Gibraltar population a better opportunity to remain healthy.
Our guide did tell an amusing story. The folks on the Rock love being British and they adore the Queen but not her husband the prince. They feel he is a dolt. Recently he came to visit the rock to represent the queen and was met at the airport by school children who greeted him in English, of course. He commented how well they spoke English, where upon he was told “they should speak good English, since Gibraltar has been under British rule
Rock of Gibraltar
Monkey on our tour bus
for 300 years!” Oh well he is not thought of too highly because of that!
After the sanctuary and some more history our tour ended in the center of the city where decided it was time for lunch. We asked our guide for a recommendation and he told us to go to “the Little Rock Restaurant. So we did. And it was an excellent choice.
We dined on pasta with fish, garlic bread and salad, and Rick and Alla enjoyed a chicken wrap. The food was of high quality and high cost! The four meals came to 53 British pounds or $106 dollars! It was good but not THAT good!
After lunch it was back to the bus and our 2.5 hour drive to Seville.
There are more photos below