Dubai to London by sea part V

STANDING SILENT… Just one of the many cannons mounted on The Rock.

IT’S another relaxing day at sea. The weather is changing. Up until now it has been warm; in the mid to high 20s with fine and sunny days and a sea so flat it has been more like river cruising. But today we can feel it getting cooler and the seas have developed a swell with white caps, but our ship handles it well as we head to Gibraltar.

The Rock now stands before us. It’s a symbol of a British stronghold in this area that stands between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Gibraltar is a little bit of England from red phone boxes, fish and chip shops and that stiff upper lip but they do drive on the other side of the road. It seems they stuck to the left like the home country but with so many visitors from Europe, cars kept wondering to the wrong side causing lots of accidents, so they voted to change to the right for safety.

Many seem to think Gibraltar is an island, but it actually borders with Spain…and what a way to get there; as you drive to the Spanish border you drive across the international airport’s main runway.

As you near the other side there is the border. If a plane wants to land or take off they simply close the road. There are traffic lights for cars and loudspeakers to warn pedestrians to get off the runway.

The Rock is the biggest attraction for tourists. It has played a massive role as a stronghold in war and is not solid because of the huge number of tunnels running through it.

The English started burrowing in 1779 for protection as they and the Spanish fired an estimated 40,000 cannonballs at each other. Then in WWII more tunnels were dug, big enough to pull cannons through to fire down on the enemy. These WWII tunnels are amazing to see and they accommodated not only soldiers but hospitals, kitchens, bakery and all that an army would need.

After the tunnels a must see is the Barbary Apes. They are not actually apes but monkeys. Local folklore says that if the monkeys leave the Rock so will the British. It is said that during WWII Winston Churchill brought more monkeys in from Africa just in case.

The Barbary Apes have a bit of a reputation for stealing food from tourists…also the occasional camera and sometimes can give a decent bite.

Other must dos are a visit to St Michaels Cave filled with stalagmites and subterranean passageways, or a ride in the cable car to the top of the Rock and check out the Gibraltar Museum.

The main square is where people stroll the shops. They are friendly and the atmosphere is that of a wonderful place to be, but all too soon it’s time to move on.

To be continued…

Until next time,

Safe Travel’n,

Geoff Vallance.

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