As lockdown slowly eases, there’s a salute from a British territory welcoming visitors to experience the history and culture of this overseas destination.
Gibraltar is often described as the Cradle of History with numerous statues and memorials to salute its past. There are 30 miles of World War tunnels snaking within the rock, dolphins circling, Barbary apes prying, playing and monkeying around, a spectacular cave underneath, and a cable car ascending its side.
The Rock is Gibraltar’s signature feature. Dating back over 200 million years, it is mostly formed from Jurassic limestone. Twisting around, up and down are steep, narrow roads, originally built for donkeys and carts. Today only registered taxis and mini-buses are allowed to transport visitors, although weather permitting, the cable car is another option. But whichever form of transport, the journey is rewarded with enviable scenery.
Armed in hard hats, the series of guided tunnel tours are factual and fascinating and definitely on the must-do list. They include The Great Siege Tunnels and can take up to three hours. The Mediterranean Steps walk is not for the faint-hearted. The Skywalk, opened by Mark Hamill from Star Wars fame in March 2018, is another look-out spot to take in stunning vistas. One word of caution, avoid carrying food – the monkeys will find it and will also throw in free entertainment along the way.
There are various organised tours which include the fishing village of Catalin Bay, Europa Point, the Mosque, the Moorish Castle and St Michael’s cave with a secret underground lake. As for wildlife, Gibraltar’s position between Europe and Africa, the Atlantic and Mediterranean make it an important crossing point for migrating birds, whales and dolphins.
The old fortress walls surround the city with gate archways into Casemates Square which is dotted with restaurants and bars leading to Main Street, the artery for shopping where familiar terms and signs such as Shepherds Pie, and M&S are giveaway clues to its Britishness. Popular too for tying the knot, Sean Connery and John Lennon chose to get married here.
But if you don’t want to travel around the Rock, then you can get a better view watching the opening sequence of James Bond’s Living Daylights part of which was filmed here or better still you can gaze up at its imposing height and stature from your own private cabin balcony.
The 5* Sunborn Hotel is an attraction in itself, floating aside Ocean Village, the harbour district of Gibraltar. It’s a novelty and can easily be spotted as your plane comes into land. Built in the design of an ocean cruiser, complete with engines and a bridge, it was the first of its kind and has a permanent residency here, providing a convenient place to explore Gibraltar with views over the sea to Spain and Morocco. And it’s easy to find – just turn left out of the airport, cross the runway, turn right to arrive at the gleaming white yacht hotel.
The entrance is like walking into Swarovksi headquarters with a glittering backdrop headlining the reception desk populated with staff wearing welcoming smiles keen to show off the floating services. The corridors are wide, fitted with carpets that foot a jazzy design leading to rooms and suites, not cabins. All tastefully designed with quality furnishings, marble modern bathrooms and technology that command mastery to operate the drapes, lights and sound. There are several room types with the most popular being those with views over the runway!
After dodging monkeys, climbing the Rock, exploring tunnels, VAT-free shopping and a brain overload of historical facts, you will soon realise that there’s more to Gibraltar than the Rock Welcome to Gibraltar, to its gigantic rock, to this British territory and travelling without quarantine.
All images courtesy of Visit Gibraltar