Gibraltar on my own sounded like not so bad an idea. I had always intended to get there while stationed in the UK and just had not managed. The Jewish Military Group had talked about repeating a successful trip from a few years prior but it didn’t happen during my tenure. I should have known that the ticket price was going to include more than the transportation. We were gifted with a very opinionated wizened little Spanish man. Glad to have my iPod and music with which to drown him out, I managed to knit the almost two hours we spent on the road. The photos following are in the order mentioned.
Yes, I already knew that Gibraltar had changed hands a number of times. Most Americans have a familiarity with The Rock which unfortunately comes from a certain insurance company. A “piece of The Rock?” When middle and older men decide to fight about who owns what piece of groups, it is the young men’s blood that makes the soil red. (If you want – insert March of Cambreadth here – the Heather Alexander song seemed very apropos). The tip of the Iberian Peninsula, Gibraltar is the dividing line between the Med and the Atlantic. Across Straits you can see North Africa on a clear day. (and yes, I know this is the other side of the rock from what is used in the ads. If you want a picture of the other side – go see the night photo from early in the trip).
Anyway – this tour guide decided that we had to know about all the wealthy people who had moved into the area, how the locals can trouble affording decent housing and other tales of ex-Pats. Considering all of this, one of the Germans on the trip finally asked if there was much industry locally besides tourism? Well, as it turns out, tourists, ex-Pats (Brits, Scans, Germans, Dutch) and avocados form the basis of the economy. The Avocados going into various beauty products rather than being for food stuffs.
He got back on his rant and didn’t shut up again the whole away. Not being Spanish – I don’t mind that the UK won’t give the land back.
There are more workers in the surrounding area than there are residents in Gibraltar (30k) so that a large amount of the work force comes in through the border every morning and leaves every evening. It is still a British possession which explains the English in a sea of Spanish.
Escaping the bus at the Coach Terminal with slightly under 4 hours to explore I headed for the Cable car figuring a nice view from the top would be great. Tues is maintenance day. Being already part way down the peninsula, my trusty map and I decided to head toward some more of the military fortifications. Frankly, the whole place is a fort. There have been tunnels, gun emplacements and lookouts for most of the centuries. (Prior to guns – well entrenched fighting positions and look-outs were still a great idea). Most of the fortifications are still there, car parks are critical on such a small bit of land.
Turning down multiple offers of guided tours to the top, I hiked up Engineer Road to the Nature Conservatory. As I was headed up and up and up, I was more than grateful to the last seven days worth of hours spent on the treadmill’s cross country program which made hiking up the mountain at a rapid pace within do-ability.
Just past the entrance on this end at what is know as Jew’s Gate is the Pillars of Hercules Monument essentially proclaiming Gibraltar as the center of the modern world. Jew’s Gate Cemetary is just beyond on the uphill side of the road. Parts are extremely old, others a bit more recent. Similar to what I noted in many places in the UK (unlike Germany and the US) most of it is not in good repair. Of course, limestone is not exactly a sturdy long term material for gravestones, especially when exposed to pollution.
I decided not to spend the rest of my time hiking another couple of miles to St Michaels Cave. the Apes’ Den or the military sites (Siege tunnels, WWII tunes, Military Heritage Center, or various gun battery emplacements) which are all on the Upper Rock. Hiking past the MOD (Ministry of Defence) property, please note the swimming pool winking behind the barbed wire.
Trafalgar Cemetery is beautifully laid out and well tended; the graves date from the late 1700s through the 1800s and is sited just outside the 1883 gate and wall.
There is an active orthodox presence in Gibraltar in what to me sometimes feels like classic modern mode (kippah, cellphone and cigarette) as well as a busy herd of younglings. Windows, doors and signs mark a community which has been present in one form or another for centuries with the Flemish and Great Synagogues.
There are libraries, both military and civilian, there are museums and I will close with the inscription off a Naval Monument. With the length of the post and number of pictures, the fiber and knitting related materials are posted separately.