I am currently sitting by the pool on our holiday in a villa in Chiclana de la Frontera, Spain. Jealous? I know you are really. Having been here 8 years previously I have already seen the sights however the hubbo came with me this time so I thought ‘what can I show him? Gibraltar!’
As Gibraltar is only a 90 minute journey from our villa it seemed like the perfect day trip. Gibraltar is a funny place, it’s not somewhere I personally would go on holiday to or even live (sorry residents).
Other than being tax free if there’s one thing Gibraltar is famous for; it’s their monkeys. But first, our friends who were also holidaying with us had mentioned that you could get a boat trip to see dolphins.Sold!
The boat trip cost £25 each and lasted for an hour. I was told that if there were no dolphins around then you would be allowed to go out again later free of charge.
So, off we toddled to the boat and picked our seats (for the 3 minutes we HAD to stay seated). As soon as the engine started, we were off to the front of the boat. I am not going to lie to you my first instinct was to do the ‘I’M KING OF THE WORLD!!’ bit but I did resist…whilst quietly doing it in my head.
Being on the boat gave us a great view of the bay and had it not been foggy a really clear view of Africa. It was there and we could see it, just about. What I will say about the dolphin sight seeing is that you never realise how like waves the tips of their fins are. There were a lot of false alarms or just plain missing them due to the hundreds of other triangle shapes in the same water space.
As you can tell my photo timing leaves something to be desired. Other than a video all of my photos are like this. However, I did see the dolphins closer than this but I was too focused on dolphin spotting (and not falling off the boat/dropping my phone) to get better pictures. Watching a dolphin swim just underneath me with his belly up, just under the water was great to see and I am glad I went.
There are a couple (possibly more) of companies that provide these trips. They are the traditional ‘stop you in the street’ sales team and then take you to the office to pay. My friends knew who they were looking for and so did upset a gentleman from the rival company who tried to sell to them. Sorry mate!
After grabbing some food we headed off into the main street of Gibraltar up to the cable cars that we had also pre-booked. The high street is pretty crowded as most high streets are. Full of wandering, dilly-dallying shoppers looking for their tax free goodies.
Finally arriving after what felt like hours walking in the heat following google maps (actually 15 minutes) we saw a large queue ahead of us. The next part was easy.
There was a slight shortcut for those that had pre-booked but everyone had to join the long queue, in the heat, to get on the cable cars.
Our tickets cost £22 per adult as we got the combined tickets that included access into the Nature Reserve as well as there return on the cable cars. Apart from entering the caves there was nothing to stop you just enjoying the views and monkeys without purchasing the combined ticket.
I do not suffer from a fear of heights nor from a fear of plunging to my death but the little cars can be unnerving. For starters, they swing and sway when people get on them. Getting on last did help that we were by the door and in the middle as the ends filled up first. Momentum obviously makes it swing slightly as you see the ground getting further and further away.
If you can get by a window then you do get some stunning views rather than looking at your feet trying to avoid eye contact with the 7 people crowded around you.
Once at the top you climb the steps and turn left. If you are lucky.. monkeys! I warn you now, the monkeys are mischievous!
DO NOT take up anything in plastic bags or bags in general, if you have a handbag/bag then I would suggest one with zips. Whilst you are in the queue at the bottom and at the top there are signs that tell you the monkeys see plastic bags and automatically presume there is food inside so to hide them.
We had one monkey try to get into our satchel and after taking a picture with my phone I put it in my pocket and (whilst still holding onto it) had a monkey try and put his hand in my pocket. Cheeky monkey! He is cute though.
As we were waiting for the cable car to go down the Rock later on a woman stepped off the other cable car and within that step a monkey swooped across. He grabbed something out of the paper bag and jumped across the platforms to sit on our side, on the other side of the railings. Safe to say she was not impressed and neither was her husband. Unable to get to the monkey to get it back all we could do was watch them react to the monkey dropping the box down the mountain and smashing the bottle of whatever.
The views at the top of the rock are stunning and if it hadn’t of been foggy that day I could have just stared out at the views of the 3 countries for hours. Looking down at the private beach for residents made me super jealous and I cursed them having that little piece of luxury to themselves. Although it was pretty dangerous trying to take a photo looking down and not dropping my phone.
Whilst we were up there we decided that we would visit St Michael’s cave. It didn’t look far on the map and we were never going to come back so why not? Well I will tell you why bloody not, because it is steep, bloody steep! Even going downwards was hard work.
What was worse was coming back up when we realised we had to to get back on the cable car. I am so unfit.
We got into St Michael’s cave as it was combined in our cable car ticket however normally you would have to pay to enter.
Anyway, St Michael’s cave is often used as a concert venue these days due to the excellent acoustics. Beware you might have to sit under a drip! If you click the link above you can run a virtual tour which gives you an idea of the amazing stalagmites you can see there. Trust me the tour doesn’t do it justice.
On our honeymoon we went to the Meramec caverns in the US and were not allowed to, and told under no circumstances where we to, touch the stalagmites.
But of course, if someone tells you you can’t that is all you want to do. In St Michael’s cave we were not told this and there was nothing stopping you from doing so. As it turns out the Tour Guide in the US was right. It’s just wet rock. Boring.
After cooling down in the cave we made our way back up the hill of death. I actually thought I might throw up at one point. Need to work on my cardio.
Once back to our rental cars we filled up on cheap petrol and made the journey back to our little villa in the sun.
Now I’ve done Gibraltar twice I have to say (again) that I believe it really is a day trip kind of a place. You can do everything you want in a day. Which is not surprising considering Gibraltar is probably smaller than most towns here in the UK. In fact I’ve just googled my hometown and there’s only 5,000 less people living in it than in Gibraltar!
What I can say though is that I have been to Gibraltar and that’s not something you hear very often.