Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Friday, November 27, 2015 – Gibraltar, UK – Clear – 67F

Distance from Barcelona to Gibraltar: 523 Nautical Miles

Port Facts.  Mostly known for the 1400 foot high Rock of Gibraltar, this city of about 30,000 people is a colony of the United Kingdom.  The official language is English but everyone speaks the language of the country’s arch enemy, Spanish.  Gibraltar guards the Straits of Gibraltar, a 15 mile stretch of water that separates Europe from Africa and the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean Sea.  The people of Gibraltar come from Italy, Spain, Malta, and Portugal.  There are four synagogues on Gibraltar serving 600 Jewish People.  There are also Muslims from Morocco (about 2000) but the country is mainly Roman Catholic.  Gibraltar has the lowest unemployment rate in Europe.  The Great Siege Tunnels were built mainly by hand and explosives in 1779-1783 during the great siege by the Spanish and French. The flag of Gibraltar is the one given to them by Queen Isabella (Red and White with the Castles).  Gibraltar is the EU but uses the Gibraltar Pound as currency (par with the BP).

A sunny and warmer day in Gibraltar…

We are on tour today - (one of us) - “The Great Siege Tunnels” with our tour guide, Adina.  Our tour started off with a bus ride through the town on our way to Europa Point.  Europa Point is the southernmost location in Gibraltar and home to several sights.  On the way, Adina pointed out what appeared to be a waterfall but it was runoff from a nearby desalination plant.


Faux Waterfall

The bus let us off and we walked to the various sights.  The first was an impressive mosque.  The Mosque of the the Two Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques (Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque).  The mosque was financed by King Faud of Saudi Arabia and is the only for-purpose mosque in Gibraltar.  It cost about $8 million and was dedicated in 1997.

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Gibraltar Mosque

The next spot we visited was the Trinity Lighthouse.  According to the guide, the lighthouse was built in 1841 and stands about 150 feet above sea level.  This allows the light to be seen for long distances.


Europa Point Lighthouse

Nearby was the The Sikorski Memorial.  There have been three iterations of this memorial, the latest dedicated in 2013.  The memorial commemorates the 1943 crash – in Gibraltar - of a B24 aircraft carrying Wladyslaw Sikorski, commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and Prime Minister in Exile.  Adina told us that the crash was suspicious.


Sikorski Memorial

From Europa Point, you can, of course, get a nice view across the straits at the north coast of Africa.


The Dark Continent in the Distance

The bus departed Europa Point and headed to our next stop – the aerial tram to the top of the Rock.  The trip to the top was amazing – combined with such a clear day, the view went on forever.

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Gibraltar Harbor


The Mediterranean Sea

From the platform, we could see the Journey docked at the pier.

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Azamara Journey Docked


The Harbor and Spain in the Distance

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Photo Proof that We Were at the Rock

We, of course, had to see the famed Barbary Apes.  We were warned not to get too close as they are aggressive and looking to snatch something.

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The Barbary Apes

Also visible from the platform is the Gibraltar Airport. The airport, fifth dangerous in the world, is short, subject to cross winds, and separates Spain from Gibraltar.  We saw an EasyJet do a go around due to the conditions.  Since he couldn’t fly over Spanish Airspace he headed toward Africa before returning about a half hour later. 

Also, note that a major highway (connecting Gibraltar and Spain) crosses the runway.  Traffic is stopped to let planes come and go. I wonder if that has provided some exciting moments over the years.

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The Scary Gibraltar Airport (and Highway)

The tour next took us to the Great Siege Tunnels.  We climbed up to the tunnel entrance but did not do the full downhill segment – enough climbing for one day.  Through a window in the tunnel, I could see the Jewish and Catholic Cemetery, which is located adjacent to the airport runway.


Jewish and Catholic Cemetery

As we made our way down the Rock to the city, we passed the Moorish Castle.    The Moorish Castle dates back to the 1333 when Gibraltar was taken back by the Moors from the Spanish.

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Moorish Fort (Castle)

In the city, the bus let us off and we visited the Gibraltar Museum, which displayed items from the history of the country.  What I found most interesting were a couple of mummies.

The bus headed back to the port and we saw more of Gibraltar – a modern, well kept-up country. 

We had dinner in the Windows Café.  Appropriately, it was British Night, which meant Fish and Chips and Salad.

Showtime tonight featured multitalented Joe West – Singer, Instrumentalist, dancer.  It was wonderful and maybe the best individual entertainer show yet on Azamara.

We spent a little time in the Casino Lounge with Max before calling it a day.

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