This port was added to get the ship out of the Schengen zone, to help with the visa issues I mentioned in a prior post. We only had a day here, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But it was a really interesting place to spend a day.
For those who aren’t aware, Gibraltar is a U.K. territory at the southern tip of Spain. The Straits of Gibraltar, which we sailed through, separate Gibraltar from Morocco (northern Africa). Here is also where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea, so after leaving, we are now sailing in the Atlantic.
So, Gibraltar (“the Rock”) is basically a small city at the base of a huge rock mountain. We walked through town from the ship, and took a cable car to the top of the mountain to explore. The town itself is quite pretty, and felt quite British to me, with pretty little parks and botanical gardens, lots of stone walls, red phone booths, and pubs.
The view from the top was spectacular.
Gibraltar was defended by the British for centuries, and we explored gun towers and some of the tunnels cut into the rock. You can certainly see far and wide to defend from here.
But nowadays, the tourists often come to the top of the mountain to see the Barbary Apes. They are the only wild apes or monkeys on the European continent. It’s pretty likely they were brought in from Morocco a long time ago. For decades, the British military actually took care of them, but now there is a local group that does. They are so used to tourists that they have become aggressive thieves, and we were advised not to carry any bags, as they associate those with food. And frankly, they are unsettling. They sometimes follow you with intent, they jump from trees onto people sometimes, and we were also advised not to make direct eye contact, which can provoke them. So adorable, but also a little bit the stuff of nightmares…
We are in Lisbon as I write this, and heading to Sagres, Portugal in a couple of days. This will be our last warm port, as we continue to head north from here. For now, cheers from the top of the Rock!