Resting in Gibraltar 6-10 Sept

Wed 10 Sep 2008 18:46
We had always planned to spend a few days in Gibraltar and I also wanted to be there to see the Gibraltar National Day celebrations on 10th Sept.
So after a night at anchor in La Linea, Spain, we crossed the end of the aiport runway into Gibraltar.  As our mast was more than 20 metres high and therefore a risk to incoming/outcoming aeroplanes, I was required to contact Gibraltar Harbour control on the VHF to be given clearance.  Then onto the waiting pontoon in Marina Bay marina and after completing the usual paperwork we moored 'bows to' to the concrete pile pontoons.  Although a pain to get on and off the boat, we felt this much safer, in so far as protecting the Hydrovane. We have known other yachts to incur damage to theirs when large swells hit the marina.  In fact whilst we were there an English yacht did incur such damage!.
View of the Rock from La Linea, Spain
The weather in Gibralter was very hot and humid and so was not ideal for sorting out the forepeak (the sleeping compartment in the bow of the boat), which is being used as our storage area.  However, this was a necessity as Michael's Dad (Den) was flying in later that day to spend a few days with us.
Nimue was only about 200 metres from the edge of the runway, so we thought we would see the plane land, but we missed it as it landed 45 mins early, as we were out shopping.  Luckily our paths crossed at the marina and the next few days were spent catching up on all the news back home and visiting the sights of Gibraltar.
Fortunately, we chose the clearest day to take the cable car up to the top of The Rock and the views over the bay were breathtaking.  Naturally we encountered one of Gibraltar's best known attractions, the Barbary Macaques (tailless monkeys), but took heed of advice not to take any plastic bags with us, as the monkey's think they contain food and can be quite violent towards you.
The Barbary Macaques
Various views from the top of the Rock
The next few days were taken up with bus tours around the island and wondering around the City Centre.  The main thing that struck us about the whole place was that it is fairly run-down and tatty and had a feel of the 1960's era.  However, it was noticeable, especially around the marina that alot of redevelopment was going on and some places were extremely smart.
One good thing was that everyone spoke English, which just made asking for things that bit easier.  I was also able to do a big shop at Morrisons and pick up some of those things you just couldn't buy in Spain or Portugal!
The restaurant fare overall was fairly bland (Fish & Chips and burgers), but after speaking with a lady at one of the bus stops, she recommended a restaurant in the marina, which did excellent Paella (altough needed to be pre-booked, as Paella wasn't officially on the menu).  We took her advice and I pre-booked the meal at the Little Mermaid and I think it was one of the best paellas we've  ever had, so was well worth the recommendation !
Gibraltar National Day is always celebrated on 10th September and commemorates the 1967 referendum when the people of Gibraltar voted to reject Spanish sovereignty by a massive majority.  The day is a public holiday during which most Gibraltarians dress in the national colours of red and white and among other events, attend a rally, which culminates with the symbolic release of 30,000 red and white baloons representing each person living on the Rock today.  This was an extremely colourful day and it made quite an impression, especially to see some of the Spanish residents dressed up and seemingly more patriotic to the Britain than some of the  British are??
Anyway the 10th also saw Den fly back to Blighty and this time I did manage to get a picture of his plane taking off!  The evening finished with a fabulous firework display and we then prepared Nimue for an early start the next day.
Bye Bye Den