At the southernmost tip of Spain, originally an Arab fortress city from where the Muslim conquest of Spain began in 711 AD, fought over for centuries as the natural connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, a part of Britain since 1713.
Im not sure what we were expecting on our first visit but what we found was a feeling of the familiar, as we crossed the airport runway through the customs barrier driving into Gibraltar we were waved through by policemen in the traditional 'bobbies' uniforms, following the signs to the Botanical Gardens we saw the red telephone boxes, red post boxes and english road signs.
We parked up just 40 mins from leaving the apartment in a large car park at the bottom of the cable car housing, and free parking, what a refreshing change. Then a leisurely stroll in the in the warm sun through palm trees with the cry of seagulls and the spectacular dominance of the Rock above.
We headed for the heart of the historic old town which is pedestrianised, found a cash point for some Gibraltar pounds (although we found more value in using the Euro) then had lunch in the beautiful cobbled Casemates square once the site of public executions which is now filled with bars, outdoor cafes ( food and service excellent ) and performance street artists.Then we walked along Main Street which runs the legnth of the town with its many quaint lanes and alley ways leading off, a shoppers duty free paradise with no VAT to pay.
We browsed the many shops - jewellers, fashionable boutiques, leather goods, electrical, computers, watches, perfumes, glassware ( Gibraltar has a crystal factory ) and last but not least Marks and Sparks and did our Xmas shopping ! After storing our goods in the boot of the car we took the cable car to the top of the Rock and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the African coastline, the Costa Del Sol and a panoramic view of the City below. Then into the air conditioned cafe for a cool drink and souvenirs in the shop. If your'e unsure of the cable car you can walk or take a taxi most of the way.
The last car down was 8pm giving us time to have a look at the Apes den, the famous Barbary Apes the only free roaming primates in Europe. They are completely wild so the advice is don't annoy or feed them (they get fresh food each day) and dont carry the ubiquitous plastic carrier bag - they associate it with food !
Gibraltar has a great military heritage, the seige tunnels (there are 50km of them) complete with graffiti from the time of Nelsons Royal Navy ( here in Rosia Bay Admiral Nelsons body was brought on board HMS Victory after the Battle of Trafalgar ).By Rosia Bay stands Napier of Magdala Battery the home of Gibraltars 100 ton gun, there used to be two on the Rock the other being at Victoria Battery which is where the Fire Station now sits. I personally found the experience of Trafalgar Cemetry, as the sun set, very atmospheric.
There is the spectacular sound and light of the natural caverns of St Michaels Cave also dolphin and whale watching in Gibraltar Bay. Beach side cafes, Moorish Castles, a Cathedral, botanical gardens, a heritage park, the list goes on...there really is so much to do and take in, one day is just not enough
( Click on Dolphin Safari page in left menu for further information )