Thursday, August 11, 2016

Day 8 – Gibraltar – August 11th

We’re going to call this post “Adventures with Carol”.  This is a saying that has come about because I like to fly by the seat of my pants when adventures await, or I create adventures.  It really depends on the situation.  Sometimes I like to just see what kind of trouble finds me, while other times I like to plan things out.  But more often than not, we like to see what finds us especially when we’re on a cruise.  This is what Europe has been for us – adventurous.  Shawn doesn’t seem to like it too much, but he appreciates it when the adventures pan out. 

We got off the boat in Gibraltar with little to no expectation except to climb the gigantic Rock of Gibraltar.  We normally don’t book excursions with the cruise lines because they are so dang expensive, and this was no exception.  We decided to get off the boat to see what kind of trouble found us.  So off we went.

We walked down the pier and through town to a huge shopping area.  We passed quite a few shops as the downtown area is mainly shopping for tourists. 

Our next top was an old cemetery from the 1800’s that cataloged deaths the occurred in battle, among other things called Tarafalgar Cemetery.  It was interesting to Shawn and me, given that we live at the property line of a cemetery from the 1800’s.  We walked around and read some of the headstones.

Noticing how tall the rock was, the decision to avoid the 80 degree heat and 1,000% humidity was an easy one.  We needed transportation.  Outside of the sky-tram station were taxi drivers trying to sell their tour.  Tending to be a bit skeptical, I asked a lot of questions.  How much is it?  What’s included?  How much would it be if we did this independently?  Are all the tickets paid for?  What will we get to see?  Etc……  In the end, the decision was easy – let’s go!

We gathered a random group of 8 people for the van and headed up the insane drive to The Rock.  The driver and tour guide took us up to a high point where we could overlook Spain, Gibraltar and most awesomely, Africa.   Not knowing if we will ever visit Africa, this was a pretty cool experience.  Some pictures were taken, mostly selfies, the view was enjoyed, and we were soon on our way again.  In an air-conditioned van… 1,000% humidity.  I’d say our group got a good deal.

The next stop on our mini-tour was St. Michael’s cave.  From what we gathered they hold productions in the cave when it’s not rainy season.  When it is rainy season, the cave is understandably wet.  Obviously, this is how the stalactites and stalagmites are formed.  They have it designed such that there are lights (which turn different colors), and staircases so that you can get around to see different part of the cave.  This was super interesting given that we’ve visited a number of caves like this in California.  

From there we went to go see the monkeys.  Oh, the monkeys!  The tour was warned many times not to feed them or get too close because, well, they are wild animals.  And boy did they live up to that.  A number of people did not listen and fed the monkeys anyway, which was awful.  But thankfully what they fed them were mainly fruits.  However, one butt-munch decided to feed a monkey packaged cereal.  Yeah, not good for the monkey tummy I’ll bet.

The tour guide moved us from one family of monkeys to the next, which was where these guys were fed.  We hung out at the very top of the rock for a bit and took in the sights, all while monkeys were jumping on the vans, people and even fought with one another a bit.  All in all it was pretty interesting.

Our tour was nearly over with a brief drive by the old Moorish Castle, which was a lookout and defensive space that had cannonball marks from hundreds of years ago.  The walls are 2 meters thick, so the cannonballs did very little damage, but you could see where they hit.  However, the structure was built so well that it withstood many battles.  

Walking back to the boat we decided to stop by a food stand for a shawarma.  Oh – my – goodness this thing was amazing.  I find it a bit amusing that we had to go to Gibraltar for a shawarma, but it was super-duper good.  We also tried banofee pie, which was awesome. 

After leaving port Shawn noticed something pretty cool.  There were a couple of dolphins waiting by the boat just kind of chillin’ there.  The ship started to leave and they swam alongside the boat. Then a few more appeared, then even more came.  Once the boat really started to go and a wake appeared the dolphins began riding the waves of the wake.  It was one of the coolest experiences we’ve had on a cruise ship.  Hundreds of dolphins waited around for the ship to leave, and once it did they were having a blast just playing around.