“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal – Gibraltar and the Barbary Apes

When Lynette and I visited Costa del Sol, Spain in January, 2008, one of the side trips we took was to Gibraltar.  The drive from where we stayed was about an hour and the roads were surprisingly good.  I suspect in season (which is mainly July to September), it takes much longer and the roads are very congested.  A short portion of the road is a toll road, which cost us 1.70 euro each way.

To get to Gibraltar, you go through La Linea, which was named back in the 1700’s, when the British were protecting Gibraltar and their cannons would only shoot a certain distance which was referred to as "the line" ("la linea") so that’s where the Spaniards retreated to.  When the war was over and the town was settled, it retained the name La Linea.

Gibraltar is a good size city with a lot of tourist shopping and about 30,000 people.  The food was very expensive and so were the souvenirs.

When we got to the "Rock," we found that the cable cars were down for maintenance so we took a tour.  As it turns out, that really is the best way to see the Rock of Gibraltar because if you take the cable car, you can’t go as high and you have to walk up the mountain to see the Barbary apes and St. Michael’s caves, rather than riding in a comfy mini-bus.

The first stop on the tour was the vista.  you could look to the right and see the Mediterranean Sea and to the left and see the Atlantic Ocean.  You could see the coast of Africa!  It was beautiful!

The next stop was St. Michael’s Caves with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.  Amazing to think they have been forming for centuries–very impressive!  There is also a theatre in the cave where they hold classical concerts.  The acoustics are apparently wonderful.

Next it was on to the Den of Monkeys, where we saw the Barbary apes.  They just stood in the middle of the road as we approached and, when we stopped, they hopped right on top of the mini-bus!  We were told not to open the doors because they would try to get in the bus!  The full-grown ones were about the size of a 3 or 4 year old child.   Be sure to check out our Photo Gallery for the picture of me with the ape–very funny.

The last stop was the Tunnels of the Great Siege, which is where the Biritish set up their cannons to defend Gibraltar.  On the way up the mountain, they put large rings into the side of the mountain, anchored in the rocks, and then threaded rope through the rings and attached the ropes to the cannons.  Then the mules and men hauled the cannons up the mountain by pulling on the ropes.  Hard work!

Then it was time to go back down the mountain as our tour, about an hour and a half, was over.

The tour was definitely worth the money!