The Rock – is not an island. It is joined to the land mass that is now Spain by a tiny causeway. The bit of land is now a runway! Really, a plane must land or take off (no large planes can land) and to make matters even more interesting, the runway is crossed about halfway with a six lane roadway. When planes come or go pedestrians and traffic must be stopped. We saw a takeoff and it is quite amazing.
Our Gibraltar guide Valeria told us the Churchill once said that the British would belong to the United Kingdom as long as there are still the tailless monkeys are there – they are the oldest living inhabitants of Gibraltar. However the monkeys began to die off and at one time leaving only 8. UK to the rescue, there is now a fleet of small trucks that bring fruit and vegetables to the monkeys morning and evening. Each monkey has a chip to identify them, the caretakers know each family and their location. There is also a program of population control including only two young to each lady monkey.
We learned this at the top of the cable car surrounded by monkeys and fog that seemed to enhance the romance of being at the top of Gibraltar. The Moorish fort halfway down the mountain was strategically placed to see the port and incoming invaders. The mountain has been vulnerable, but also has offered protection for centuries by means of tunnels into the mountain. The Great Siege of the 1779 – 1783 saw the beginning of the tunnel system built by Royal Engineers.
Another set of tunnels were excavated between 1939 – 1944 to house soldiers, hospitals and supplies. The tour through there convinced me again that I need sunlight. The air was surprisingly good and it was said that there are so many man made and natural openings the air clears through the Rock at all times. I was still happy to get to the end into the light.
The other treats was Saint Michael’s cave a stalagmite filled set of caves that open one into another, now fitted out with colored lights (!) and stairs with railings. The lights ad to the vision of forms colliding into one another and water dripping over millennia to form an reform the sandstone. It would have been lovely to hear a symphony inside, or a choir.