Vasco da Gama
Sun 27 Jul 2008 09:04
Ian's experience of Main Street, Gibraltar was not very happy, but there are some interesting places, such as the Rock Hotel, a grand hotel built in the 1930's which still has a 1930's film starry glamour with terraces and gardens overlooking the Bay of Algeciras. The town is encircled by military installations carved into the rocks during the 18th and 19th Centuries, announcing themselves as BASTIONS, ESCARPMENTS and RIDGES in bold black letters, so you often feel you should be standing to attention. There is a beautifully kept cemetery where the men and boys who died in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 are buried. We were introduced to the Governor and his wife, Rob and Midge Fulton by mutual friends Roger and Maggie Bamford in Beaulieu, and H.E., as Rob is known to everybody, gave us a fascinating tour of the Governor's residence and botanical garden in the heart of the town. The residence, called The Convent, was a Franciscan monastery built in the early 16th Century. The cloister and stables survive and they are the administrative centre of the building. The residence was added in the Victorian era. There is a magnificent dining room in full-on gothic revival style, with penants and coats of arms of all the military governors going back through the British, Spanish and Moorish periods, hanging from the ceiling and decorating the walls. We saw the grand ballroom where investitures and concerts are held. Walking around the backstreets of Gibraltar in the evening after the tourists and cruise ship passengers had left we found the best Indian food we have had outside India in a tiny restaurant called Mumtaz in Cornwalls Street.
Sailing from Gibraltar to Puerto Banus was a pleasant day's motoring of 5 hours in fierce heat of about 35 degrees but made comfortable by a light breeze. Approaching Puerto Banus from the sea, and tied up inside you see the beauty of Jose Banus's original design, rather than driving into it by car through a concrete jungle set into a vast car park. We stay on board as much as possible and avoid the Port at night when it is full of thick hordes of people parading up and down. Can't decide who are more annoying - the crowds who gasp in astonished awe every time a Ferrari or an Aston Martin drives by, or the drivers of the Ferraris, Astons, Bentleys, etc. who drive slowly by, looking straight ahead with an _expression_ of smug contempt for the rest of the human race.
Still it's great to be here in the Mediterranean. We are waiting here for another part, this time a bit of the wind generator. The insurance company has replaced the DuoGen, as they accepted Ian's theory that it was bitten off the back of the boat by a whale.