DAY 30 – GIBRALTAR – GUNS N’ MONKEYS

I love a little History and Gibraltar has plenty, a tiny outcrop of land originally part of Spain but taken by the British in 1713. There have been many battles, blockades and sieges between England and Spain over the Centuries to recapture Gibraltar, the rock has a commanding view over the entrance to the Mediterranean sea from the Atlantic Ocean, the entrance to the Med. is only 8 miles across between Europe and Africa, who ever controls the entrance, controls the Med. the rock is of  vital strategic importance during war time.

et001_935x701

There are very few road signs for Gibraltar and they only begin a couple of Km’s before the border.

et002_935x701

et004_935x683

et005_935x669

et006_935x694

et008_531x701

Some Spanish remain very unhappy that every attempt to recapture the rock both militarily and politically over 300 hundred years has failed, the border has only been fully open since 1985 but can be closed during tensions. Anyway, we just came to see the old guns and the  wild monkeys that are native to the upper rock.

et009_935x701

et010_935x701

et013_935x701

PIC_0026

et018_935x701

PIC_0034

et016_518x701

We chatted to a couple of motorcycle police about where to go to find the monkeys, and more guns.

et014_492x701

To find the wild monkeys you have to go to the top of the rock, the roads in Gib. are very narrow and are the steepest I have ever come across, the old girl pulled us up there. About two thirds of the way up the mountain there is a check point and you have to pay to go to the top, I did not want to leave the bike and also I did not want to walk miles up the steep hills, so I paid for the bike to go to upper rock also, 18 Pounds (25 USD) for the three of us.

et021_935x701

Next to the check point are the pillars of Hercules, this marks the place that in ancient times was known as  ”The end of the known World”

et024_507x701

PIC_0059

et022_935x701

et026_935x701

Africa is only 8 miles (13 km) away and can be seen in the distance, we rode higher up the narrow roads until we saw our first monkey.

PIC_0058

PIC_0064

PIC_0065

We were very apprehensive at first, having seen what monkeys can do to your car in a Safari Park, but this was a happy, chilled monkey, we starred at the monkey for a while…..and nothing happened, we felt he was a cool monkey and safe to approach.

PIC_0067

PIC_0069

PIC_0070

PIC_0071

Overjoyed that we had seen a monkey we carried on along the road and then saw two more, some people come up here and don’t see any monkeys, we couldn’t believe our luck.

PIC_0073

PIC_0077

PIC_0079

On up to the next gun emplacement, near the Great Siege Tunnels the usual gun crew were relaxing in the midday sun.

PIC_0085

PIC_0086

PIC_0087

Next it was in to the Great Siege Tunnels, there have been over 10 sieges altogether in Gibraltars violent and turbulent History, but the Great Siege was something else, it lasted from 1779 until 1783, in 1780 the French also joined forces with the Spanish against Gibraltar. Most of the women and children were evacuated by The Royal Navy to England before the outpost was cut off by both land and sea, some women remained to be with their husbands and their role was to tend the wounded.

To escape the daily barrage of cannon fire  from both the French and Spanish land and sea forces, The Royal Corps of Engineers began tunneling in to the mountain, all the roads were  dug up, all tall buildings and towers were demolished so that there were no targeting landmarks for the French and Spanish artillery, and every square inch of soil  on the hill sides was used to grow food, goats, chickens and monkeys were used for meat.

PIC_0093

PIC_0094

PIC_0098

PIC_0095

PIC_0107

PIC_0112

PIC_0099

PIC_0105

gib035

Back outside in the sunshine, yet more monkeys, we wondered how we had been so fortunate to see so many monkeys around us…….not being able to shower daily, we most probably smell like monkeys now !!

PIC_0089

PIC_0090

PIC_0091

PIC_0092

PIC_0116

PIC_0120

PIC_0122

Something we found interesting at the exhibition was the graffiti carved on the walls by soldiers Centuries ago.

PIC_0124

PIC_0125

PIC_0126

PIC_0127

PIC_0128

Gibraltar has swapped hands many times in the past 1000 years, Moors, English and Spanish but has been consistently in British hands for over 300 hundred years, there is a legend in Gibraltar that when the Monkeys leave the rock so do the British. In 1942 during WW2 the Ape population dropped to such low levels that it received the attention of  Winston Churchill, he imeidiatly orderd the capture and transfer of more Monkeys from Morocco to boost the ape population……the power of legends !

PIC_0137

Next we had a look at the old Moorish castle, first built by the Moors (Arabs) in 711 and then re-built in 1333, not much remains today of the origonal Castle complex that used to stretch from up here and all the way down to the sea.

PIC_0150

PIC_0141

PIC_0138

PIC_0145

PIC_0146

PIC_0149

PIC_0148

After some time on upper rock we headed back down the steep narrow roads to the town, the petrol here is only 0.65 Euro per litre and ciggies are the cheapest around, we filled up with both !

PIC_0151

PIC_0155

gib003

PIC_0159

PIC_0160

We finished wandering around Gib. town and now we had to head back to Spain to the port of Algeciras about 25km further along the coast.

PIC_0161

PIC_0163

Another unique thing about Gibraltar is that you have to drive across the runway to get in or out, barriers come down when the planes are either landing of taking off, the airport here is both military and civilian.

PIC_0164

PIC_0167

Back in Spain we headed to the port of Algericas to find a ferry over to Morocco, its only a very short ferry ride between Spain and Morocco, talking to Dave in Marbella last night and Wim on the Internet plus general research before I left on the trip, the ferry ride should have been less than 50 Euros.

PIC_0169

PIC_0170

The port was quite large and had many one way road systems, I parked the bike near the ferry terminal and left Linda watching it, we were approached by many African people offering us this and that !! They all spoke French for some reason, most were kinda sleeping on pavements or generally just lounging around, I walked over to the long row of ticket offices and began asking for tickets to either Tangiers or Cueta, now bear in mind this should cost me less than 50 Euro.

The first ticket bureau wanted over 300 Euro, and the guy only spoke French again, on to the second and third office etc.etc. you get the picture, they were all quoting me far higher prices, so after an hour or so of trawling around the ports ticket offices  dealing with these French speaking African thieves (Not a single Spanish person) I went back over to Linda and the bike, it was all pretty seedy down there, neither of us took photos because we didn’t want to show we had cameras on our person.

Having been left alone for over an hour with these characters Linda was very unhappy, we swapped stories of our hour long experiences with Africans (Neither of us has ever met real Africans before) and decided we do not want to go to Morocco alone, the people we met here did not leave us thinking Africa was a great place to travel alone, I will go to Morocco one day but not alone, with other bikes or on a sanitised package tour it would be great.

The port roads are  not designed for people changing their minds and I had to ride the wrong way along some one way road systems to get out of there, it was an experience !!

PIC_0171

We stopped at a small cafe and debated what to do next sice we no longer wish to go to Morocco, perhaps the solution is when you are at home in a civilised Country book your ferry tickets before you travel or book your tickets here as a group, I find that con merchants rarely take on a group of bikers,  safty in numbers springs to mind, anyway enough about that, where to next, I have been to Spain many times but Linda has not, so I thought she would like Granada and the Al Hambra palace.

PIC_0172

After starring at the map for a while we decided to head a little way North of Gibraltar towards Malaga and camp for the night.

PIC_0173

We were both getting hungery so I pulled of the motorway and we tried a local Spanish resturant, we had La burger and La chips.

PIC_0180

PIC_0181

We stayed on the old road and easily found a couple of campsites near each other, so I haggled the price down.

PIC_0182

PIC_0186

This campsite had a beach and a pool, also most of the campers here were nice and friendly Dutch and German people, so no noisy Spanish people singing, drinking and shagging until 3am, which is a feature of  most Spanish campsites, in Spain its better to go to more exclusive and expensive campsites where the Spanish don’t go in our experience here.

PIC_0190

PIC_0191

PIC_0192

We had a very pleasant evening here chatting to Dutch and German family’s, tomorrow Granada.

Advertisements

~ by travelswithmymotorbike on June 10, 2009.

7 Responses to “DAY 30 – GIBRALTAR – GUNS N’ MONKEYS”

  1. So far so good, hope you find the monkeys and a decent place to sleep

  2. Fantastic post, fantastic, love the monkeys, love the history.

    Stan

  3. Great post on Gibraltar, I visited there many times when my brother was stationed at Gib, nice to see the old place again.

    j

    • Same here, I went there with my father back in the 80’s, it was a trip down memory lane.

      Cheers

      Dave..

  4. Really great place Dave, you have really captured the history.

    Owen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: