On the Friday morning as the snow started to fall and the UK started to grind to a halt with a few millimetres of the stuff I was told that we were ready to get going. Where's my backpack, my boots, hat, gloves, all my nice warm clothes!! All that I was taking was a rucksack with a few bits and pieces in, the clothes I had on, plus my non waterproof trail shoes, not going to Wales then!! :-) I sought of guessed that we'd be flying out somewhere but where I had no idea until we got to passport control. Now most of us have been there with the grumpy non smiling robots checking out the funny mugshots on the passports, well for some reason we had a cheerful, smiling person on duty who promptly told us to have a wonderful time on the Rock of Gibraltar!!! The look on Jills face was a picture and she could of hit him as I looked more than a bit surprised. Cheers mate :-) Now I'll be honest and say that Gibraltar wasn't on my radar at all, Barcelona came to mind as we have been twice before and liked it, even Paris came to mind on the approach to the airport as we have been there but Gibraltar to me has always been a rock with some apes on it and also a stop off for the cruise liners as they made their way around the med. This is certainly a surprise alright!
Luckily for us, Manchester being Manchester didn't suffer with snow so we managed to get off only 30 mins late, which was better than the flights from other airports in the UK, so it was round about 3pm we left the cold and wet conditions behind and arrived in Gibraltar about 6.30 local time and stepped off the plane in the cool evening light with a bit of a breeze. On looking at the tarmac it looked like we had missed some wet weather but the breeze started to pick up a bit. This is a small new Airport, only opened in 2011 and is very smart. The runway is small and they have to shut the main road that connects Gibraltar with mainland Spain everytime a plane lands or takes off. It ranks as the fifth most dangerous airport in the world and the most dangerous in Europe!!
We had a 25 minute walk to our hotel from the airport that took us across the runway with the Rock being the centre of attention
We did get out and about for some exploring on the Saturday after the rains stopped mid morning but the wind was as strong as any open mountain and it seemed that the whole of Gibraltar had shut down. We took in the new harbour with all the big fancy private boats and new apartments where a penthouse suite can cost £1.8 million pounds
So on the Sunday we set off to the lighthouse at Europa Point at the South of the Island. It was still very windy but we did have blue skies and sun and some good views across the choppy sea towards mainland Spain from Rosia Bay
We made our way round to Camp Bay & Little Bay via a couple of short tunnels in the rock. Camp Bay reminded me of the seaside places we visited as a kid growing up in the 70's. All concrete and not much in the way of health and safety :-)
Dudley Ward Tunnel it was getting warmer due to the lack of wind and so coats and jumpers were coming off. We were quite surprised to see the "no pedestrian" signs at the entrance but was told by a local it was ok to walk it as long as we stayed close to the sides!! We did notice quite a few joggers and walkers using it and also a police car passed us halfway through and didn't stop us!
We also came across our first taste of a proper beach area at Sandy Bay and you can see why the beaches are on this side as they must be well sheltered by the sheer cliffs rising steeply above
Catalan Bay , a small bay that seems to be named after the Italian city of Genoa. We did have a coffee and sandwich sat outide a cafe overlooking the bay. A taste of summer :-)
It was also very quiet in Casemate Square & on Main Street where our hotel was situated
World War Two Tunnels and along Queens Road to the Charles V Wall
Apes Den where there are quite a few hanging about around a feeding area.
Once at the top there were some great views down to Sandy Bay where we were in the warm sun a couple of hours before
O'Hara's Battery at the summit of the Rock @ 1400ft above sea level. Along the path I came across a lookout post that provide great views all around and also of how much the weather had changed from the morning!
Lord Aiery's Battery. Although there are tours around this place it all seemed a bit unused for a few years as it was barb wired up and all gates were padlocked and a bit overgrown. There are the Mediteranean Steps that you can use to get from the Pillars Of Hercules to the battery and these did look steep and unstable in places. I did see a few people on them though. I just had a good look round this very interesting area and a birds eye view of the walk Jill & I did earlier in the day
And where the apes were in a more sedate mood
To the apes den where the other troop were just as sedate
I made my way down past the Devils Gap Battery
Public Footpath back into town
Just a short walk back through the streets in time to watch Manchester United get a point away to Tottenham, well two points lost really. Sky Sports in our room :-) Walking through the streets made me feel more at home as I came down the Union Jack Steps on Sir Matt Busby Way :-)
Well I have now learned quite a bit more about Gibraltar and now know that it's not just a Rock with Apes or just a stopping off port for the Cruise Liners, There is so much history and a lot to explore on the Rock and it's surroundings. A pity about the weather but we'll just have to go back sometime when it's a bit warmer.
Nonetheless, a great weekend away, thanks Jill x :-)
A couple of videos.
O'Hara's Battery & Views