Cruising the world (14) - Gibraltar
Strong winds overnight impeded the Dawn Princess's arrival time to the port of Gibraltar adjacent to the Rock. There must have been 30 ships anchored in the bay. Most of them oil tankers waiting to unload their cargo of crude at the massive oil refinery in Gibraltar.
Although it is less than three square miles in area, the Rock of Gibraltar has become a symbol of durability and permanence. With its strategic location at the western entrance of the Mediterranean, the rock offers great value as a military strong point. Europe is only eight miles from Africa at this point and the straits are 36 miles long. Whoever controls Gibraltar and the harbour at its base is in a good position to control the passage between Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.
The rock itself is a natural fortress 1,396 feet high, with a sheer vertical face to the east. Gibraltar's population is 30,000 with an ethnic mix reflecting the history of this strategic crossroad: Spaniards, Moors, Arabs and British. Gibraltar is also the site of the Ape's Den, home of the famous Barbary Apes, tailless monkeys which have inhabited the rock for centuries. Legend has it that Britain will retain the Rock as long as the Apes live there. Migratory birds also find Gibraltar a convenient stop on their way between Europe and Africa. Commonly seen are honey buzzards, griffons, black storks and the unique short-toed eagles.
Our lads went on the' Rock Tour' by taxi which took them to the highest point of the Rock where the famous apes live. They had fun watching the tailless monkeys cavorting around the Apes' Den and enjoyed catching up with their ancestors!! (couldn't help myself!!) Unfortunately it was too misty for photo opportunities of Spain and Africa. Us girls weren't so keen on that tour so headed off to the main street of Gibraltar township and wandered around the very colourful shopping area. Helmeted Bobbies, pillar-boxes and pubs made for a bit of Britain in the Mediterranean. We drooled over beautiful diamond rings, pearls, watches - you name it - but all very expensive so no purchases were made. Decided to stay in the town square for a pizza dinner then enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the ship, ending the evening watching a Tom Jones concert. I wasn't the least bit enamoured with Gibraltar. After Cobh, Paris and London, Gibraltar seemed like dullsville!!