The Rock of Gibraltar

I have by no means travelled most of the world. I’ve covered a good few countries and definitely visited a couple that are perhaps more unusual for a Brit to visit  but I’m not a massive globe trotter. That said, when I told people I had a flight booked to Gibraltar, I got some puzzled looks.

Why wouldn’t I – a psychology graduate – want to go to a place that is synonymous with culture clash? And as if that wasn’t enough, a place known for its geology unusual and native monkeys? And they speak English and use pounds. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for an easier first ‘official’ solo holiday.

One thing I am having to get used to now I live in Edinburgh is connecting flights. When I lived in London, I took the many international airports absolutely for granted. This time around, I was looking at a regular 3+ hour flight to Gib as well as a flight down to Heathrow. But as I have, for the most part, been blessed by the travel gods, this went off without a hitch.

Gibraltar, being a spit of land jutting out into the Strait, has a somewhat… unconventional airport. Unconventional in the sense that the area it’s built on isn’t exactly wide enough and an artificial runway has been extended out into the sea and the road to Spain goes straight through the middle so traffic has to be stopped. Very disconcerting as a passenger when you find yourself getting closer and closer towards a body of water having just spotted cars queuing up. It felt a bit like an accident waiting to happen…

But I made it! And after grabbing a shuttle bus to the main town (the busses were super duper cheap – I was very impressed) I made it to my AirBnB (entire flat to myself – thank you very much, discount codes!). My flat was very cute and Mediterranean, with white linen curtains and a courtyard with leafy green plants in terracotta pots.

Nipping out for a bite to eat, I made my plan of action for the next few days. I didn’t have long to explore the unique territory.

First thing on my list, of course, was The Rock.

And that meant seeing Barbary Apes. 

(Although the animal nerd in me hastens to add that they are actually macaques and not apes.)

Any excuse for some wildlife photography, really! 

Not a bad view from the top either…

One side of the Rock bare while the other is covered in vegetation.

The Rock’s official flower is Acanthus mollis, commonly known as bear’s breeches, 

While I had chosen to take the (swaying more than I was comfortable with!) cable car up, it was a nice enough day that I decided to walk my way down. Map in hand, this offered great views of the Gibraltar Bay and across to Spain.

I also had a clear view to Europa Point at the tip of the overseas territory.

On my walk down from the top, I was eager to stop in at Saint Michael’s Cave. Prehistoric history nut that I am, I was extremely excited to visit a place where neolithic remains had been found!

The cave also often gets used as a venue so there was some amazing lighting inside!

Back outside, I encountered more macaques. 

The macaques had a bad rep in the past as people would feed them, so they’d be known to chase tourists down and pull at plastic bags. The Gibraltar government put a stop to that a few years ago with a £4,000 fine if you’re caught slipping them food(!) Only rangers are allowed to feed them now which means everything is a bit more relaxed on the Rock.

View over Gibraltar town.

A suspicious pup I met on my way down.

And some more views out to Spain.

And more macaques.

Part of my entry into the nature reserve got me into the Moorish Castle.

The castle has stood since the medieval era and was home to Gibraltar’s only prison until 2010! 

Gibraltar town itself is strange in that there are some things that are totally British – the many pubs, English is everywhere, pounds on signs, etc. – but then I’d round a corner and encounter an entire wall of Mediterranean bougainvillea. Culture clash!

Next post will cover the second half of this trip and my attempt to see North Africa (which has been on my bucket list since I heard about Gib!) but if you got through this blog post without once thinking of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, you’re a better person than I!

The Rock of Gibraltar | The Pillars of Hercules 

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