Gibraltar

Trip Start Apr 02, 2011
1
13
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Trip End May 15, 2011


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Tahitian Princess

Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Today we stood on the Pillars of Hercules. We stood on the Rock. We stood on Tariq's Rock which is called "Gebel-Tarik" in Arabic a word which gives the rock its current name of the Rock of Gibraltar. To leave or enter the Mediterranean from or into the Atlantic, a ship must pass thru t 36 miles of the Straits of Gibraltar and while passing the Rock of Gibraltar the width of the Straights is just eight miles. Eight miles that separates the continent of Africa from the continent of Europe. We landed early just before daylight at 07:00AM and in the early morning light just before the sun broke over the ocean we could make out the Rock of Gibraltar outlined against dark clouds that filled the sky. The weather for the day was forecast to be rain-free and cool. The White Lady's luck would hold another day as we had bright cool weather the whole morning that we were in Gibraltar.
 
We would only be in port for half a day from 07:00AM until 1:00PM. That would be all of the time allowed for our adventure out onto the Rock. We left the ship early, just after the gangplank had been lowered into place. It was still too early to shop, but we wanted to walk into town and catch the cable car lift to the top of the mountain that is the Rock of Gibraltar. We walked quickly thru town as we would return later in the day after exploring the Rock. In that way the stores would be open and we could look around the town area at the base of the mountain. We arrived at the cable car station just in time to watch the attendant put out a sign saying the Cable Car would not be operating due to the strong winds that were blowing on the mountain side. We looked up the mountain and watch the lengths of cables that stretched from the small building we were beside, up the mountain ,up past tall towers that held the cable in place and even further up to the very top of the mountain where the cables enter another small building. Today we would not take the cable car ride to the top of the mountain.
 
Just outside of the lift building, was a set of tour vans, they were another way to go to the top. They offer a tour of the complete top of the Rock from the Pillars of Hercules to St. Michaels Cave on pass the Ape Den and out to the Great Siege Tunnels. We accepted the tour along with three other couples from the ship, thus we began our adventure on the Rock of Gibraltar. It was a small white van that held nine people including the driver. So off we drove, up the mountain and into our Gibraltar Adventure.
 
Our first stop was at the Pillars of Hercules, where legend says Hercules broke the land bridge between Europe and Africa and pushed the continents apart. This is the site that the ancient Greeks refer to as the Pillars of Hercules.
 
Out next stop was at St. Michaels Caves. This is a series of natural caverns formed by water erosion. They have found evidence of cavemen in the caverns and today it serves not only as a cave tour, but as a small theater for underground theatrical performances. We wander thru the cave and caverns seeing the large stalactites and stalagmites that make up a water erosion cavern. This was unexpected for us as the Rock of Gibraltar is not known for its natural caves.
 
From the natural caverns of St, Michaels Cave we drove along the mountain toward the far end of the mountain. About halfway across we stopped at the Ape's Den. This is a place where the famous Barbary Apes of Gibraltar are normally located. They can also be seen in lesser numbers all along the top of the mountain. As we go out of the van, I stood on the side of the road next to several large boulders. Suddenly something jumped on my shoulder and was holding my head. It was a Barbary ape that wanted to visit with the humans that had come up to his home. He sat there very gently and calmly as if this was just another perch for him to sit. I was immediately assailed with request to face every person who had a camera. I was now an attraction on the Rock of Gibraltar. Our guide patiently waited for all of the members of the tour to take a picture, then he waved his hand at the ape and it jumped back to the boulder that was its prior perch. Yes, we were in the Ape's Den. This is where the military feeds the apes so that they will not be a nuisance to the town or the tourists that frequent the Rock. The Barbary ape is a tailless monkey that is native to this area of land. Legend has it that Britain will retain the Rock as long as the Apes live here. Does anyone believe the legend? In 1944, the middle of World War II, Winston Churchill was concerned that the ape population was growing too small, so he sent to Northern Africa for ape-reinforcements. Today the ape population is approximately 60. Although they are wild they are also used to humans and know that they are protected and will not be bothered by humans. We hiked to the top of the Ape's Den, so that we could look in on direction and see the Mediterranean on the right and the Atlantic on the left. This really impressed on us the narrowness of the Rock of Gibraltar.
 
From our vantage point, we stood on the tip of Europe and saw Africa just eight miles away. From here you can appreciate the significance of this rock at the end of the European Contingent. The Ancient Greeks were here during their time of dominance on the stage of mankind. In 711, a Moorish army led by Tariq ibn Zeyad crossed from Africa and began the conquest of Spain on the Rock of Gibraltar. The Spanish recovered control of the Rock in 1462, just thirty years before they sent Columbus around the Rock and out into the Atlantic on his voyage to the undiscovered New World. The Rock remained in Spanish control until 1704, when the British Navy under Admiral Rooke took the fortress and the town. It was called Rooke's Rock for some time after the takeover by the British. The Spanish and the French tried to jointly recapture the Rock with the Great Siege (1779-83) during the American Revolution. The siege was to become one of the greatest sieges in history. The British dug tunnels in the side of the mountain to protect themselves during the siege.
 
These Great Siege Tunnels were our next destination on the tour. It is estimated that in one day of heavy fighting there was over 4,000 rounds fire in total by both sides. The British Army tunneled into solid rock to escape the bombardment. They dug tunnels that went over 300 feet into the mountain. From these tunnels they were able to fire down on the harbor and the enemy ships. We walked back into the tunnels and imagined the fierceness of the battle. Large rings were seated in the side of the tunnel. These rings were used to move the large siege cannons thru the tunnel. Today the smoke and smell of gun powder was not evident, just the cool silence of history. The height of the roof in the tunnels was varied from one inch shorter than I am to a few inches taller than I am.  Along the side of the tunnel were periodic openings to allow for cannon and observation of the siege occurring below the mountain.
 
After leaving the tunnels we headed back down the Rock to the town that lies between the Rock and the ocean. It is a small town of about 30,000 inhabitants that are part of the British Empire by referendum requested by the United Nations in 1967. The town is a mixture of a military town and a tourist town. Its main street is mainly a walking street and is called Main Street. We had a leisurely walk back thru town and toward the harbor and the White Lady. As we approached the end of the town there was a large military parade occurring in the main square of town. As a British Army location, all of the pomp and ceremony that the British Army is known for was present at the ceremony. It was a ceremonious reminder that this is still a place of military significance
 
 
We returned to the White Lady in time to have a nice lunch before the crew removed the gangplank and slipped the ship gently from the dock and out into the Straits of Gibraltar toward the Atlantic Ocean. We will cruise for the rest of the day and night to awake tomorrow morning in Lisbon, Portugal.
 
Hunt for Harriet Results:
Linda, Sharon, Brenda, and Chrystal were able to located Harriet amidst the crowds of St. Paul de Vence. Today she is on the streets of the Town of Gibraltar waiting to be discovered by you.

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Where is Harriet? Hunt 

Today she is on the streets of the Town of Gibraltar waiting to be discovered by you

Brenda on April 25, 2009

Another really tough one and hard to describe. I think Harriett is standing behind the people sitting at tables on the left of center picture. She is to the left of the person standing in the red top.
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