Thursday, June 30, 2016

Gibraltar | UK

The next place our cruise stopped was in Gibraltar, which is part of the UK. It is situated at the entrance of the mediterranean, close to Africa and at the very tip of Spain. The rest of the UK is nowhere near here so it was interesting to technically be in the UK, even though it was basically Spain. But they spoke english primarily and used the pound as their primary form of currency.
Richard and I successfully attempted to tour this city all on our own. This was one of the places I was most looking forward to and it was really easy to find information about it online so I felt like I had a good sense of what we were doing before we got off the ship. It took us a little while to figure out where we were exactly when the cruise ship dropped us off, but once we found main street we were good to go. We stopped at Costa Coffee for some real coffee for Richard, plus some free wifi for both of us. It is amazing how nice wifi is when you cannot access the internet at all on the ship.
When we were done with our coffee, we headed down the main streets to find the cable car station that would take us to the top of the rock. There were a few neat buildings to see and there was a wall that cut the city in half and the wall continued all the way up the rock.
When we got to the cable car station, there was a long line that we had to stand in that thankfully did not take too long. There were tour companies trying to convince you to purchase their tour to save you from having to do a whole bunch of walking, but we decided to spend most of the day hiking the mountain, and boy did we walk a lot. The cable car would take you up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar where you could see the apes that live wild all over the rock, and we also would get access to a few other fun things as we climbed down the rock. I knew this was the best way to get to the top of the rock without buying a tour of some sort.
The cable ride itself was so so scary. I am not a huge fan of heights, especially when there is a chance that you could fall and this cable car did not make me feel safe at all. I basically grabbed the handle and closed my eyes and survived the 5 minute ride to the top. The rock is just so steep that we were literally going straight up. The pictures below give an idea of what it looked like, but they don't come close to really showing how steep that trip was. You can see the black lines across the pictures and that was the cable for the cable car.
Once we got to the top, I was grateful to get out of the car. Right away when we unloaded there was an ape sitting on the edge of the railing just waiting for us. These apes were everywhere you looked and it was fun to see them interact with each other and us. They are technically wild, but you could tell that they were very used to hanging around humans. At the top station we definitely saw the most apes even though there was an ape den located halfway down the rock. I wish I would have known that was where we would see the most apes because I did not give them much thought at the time thinking that I would see them again in the ape den.
The rock was so amazingly gorgeous that we just stared at it for a good amount of time. So cool.

^^See the baby monkey??^^
^^This cliff was on the other side of the rock and the land in the distance is Africa.^^
^^"Let's take a selfie with Africa" - Richard^^
^^The lighthouse looking thing at the top of the rock is where our cable car dropped us off. I am telling you it was so scary steep.^^
One of the things we got to see while walking down the rock was St Michael's Caves. The description made it seem like these would be these intense caves that you could go exploring in, but they ended up being lit with different colored lights as part of an auditorium of sorts. It made taking pictures difficult and I feel like it took away from the natural beauty of the caves.

Once we were done in the caves, we continued our long walk down the rock toward the ape den. The roads down were quite narrow and there were constantly tour buses zipping past us at speeds that seemed unsafe for such a tiny road with such a huge drop off beyond the road. Not long before we arrived at the ape den, Richard and I both started to get hungry so we decided to eat a kind bar each to hold us over before lunch. Well we opened the plastic to the bar and all of a sudden there were three apes closing in on us. They warned us that the apes knew that plastic usually meant food and they were not kidding. Those apes came out of nowhere to try to find our food. It was funny and scary at the same time. We had to eat quickly and quietly so that they did not steal our food. Once we got to the ape den, there was only a few apes and so many people around that it was hard to even get a good look at them. The apes at the top were much better.
Everything after the apes was not really worth seeing, but we had time to kill so we were fine with it. We had to walk a few miles to go see some historic tunnels. We unfortunately could not get into the World War II tunnels because they required a pre-arranged tour and were sold out when we got there. Whoops. We also saw the Moorish Castle which was fun to explore. I wish we could have seen the front side of it a little better, but there were houses there. We walked through the castle and then took in the view from the top of the castle. We also saw an Alecia-sized door that we had to document.

When we were done at the castle we had to make our way down the never ending stairs that would lead us back to main street. We walked an equivalent of 38 flights of stairs on this day and almost 25 thousand steps. Basically by the time we were done with the steps we were so physically tired it was crazy. Both of our legs would not stop shaking for over an hour. Every time we stood still our legs shook. Richard has a pretty funny video of his legs shaking.
To finish out our day, we went to a lunch place that had fish and chips for Richard along with a burger for me. Sitting felt so good after the amount of walking we had done since most of it was downhill. On our way back to the cruise ship we decided to stop to buy a coffee mug and the guy at the store wrote down Richard's passport number which we thought was weird and it freaked Richard out. We then got lost trying to find the cruise ship while on a time crunch with being stressed out about our identity getting stolen. So the last hour was not our favorite, but we tried not to let it affect our memories of the amazing day we just had.
After spending the entire day in the sun, we got back to our cruise ship and realized our stupidity since we forgot to put sunscreen on. Richard's face was pretty burnt and luckily I was not too bad.

The next day was an at sea day so we spent most of the day laying in the sun reading. The amount of sun we got was deceiving because it was cool and windy so I did not feel like I was getting any sun. By the end of the day I was super burnt and the worst part was that it was in random patches instead of being uniform. I had to apply ice to the burn in order to get some relief. I won't make that mistake again.
Gibraltar was another one of my favorite days of our whole trip. It was fun just exploring the area on our own at our own pace. We did so much walking and even though we were exhausted I would not change anything about the day.

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