Bec's 'Bring It Home' Tour de España travel blog




St Michael's Caves

This is out of focus but hopefully gives an idea of the...

Today I headed to Gibraltar via Alegeciras to find somewhere to stay and drop off my bags. You enter Gibraltar from La Linea de La Concepción and the border crossing is ridiculously easy; I don't think they even put my bags through an x-ray. Mind you, my bag went through an x-ray at the train station in Seville and the operator was literally reading the paper and not paying the slightest attention to the screen, so x-rays aren't always much use!

I stopped at the information desk to pick up a map and the guy was very friendly, and very quick to point out that the locals are Gibraltarians, not Spanish, and though they're British they very much have their own culture etc.

To get into town you need to walk or drive across the runway first! There's nowhere else they could really put a runway, and they've had to reclaim land to make it long enough as it is, so instead of making people walk all the way around it the road goes straight across the middle and they just block it off when the runway is needed for planes.

I didn't get off to a great start. It was early afternoon by the time I finally got there, so I stopped for lunch before heading up the rock. First, there was a fly in my drink when it was served to me, then they forgot about my order, then I was billed twice for it - the service was actually worse than in Spain, which is a pretty hard task.

The cable car up the rock was very fast which was a relief as I hate the things! I had planned on walking up, but it was getting late after my super-slow lunch, and I was later glad I hadn't because there was nowhere to buy water along the way so I was absolutely parched and my feet were killing me by the time I walked down - I think I walked twice the distance necessary because the map was hopeless! Anyway, it wasn't all bad...

The Rock is home to the Barbary apes, and they are fantastic. You can't feed them or try and touch them, but I did walk past a guy who seemed to have an affinity with a small ape and he put it on my shoulder for a quick posed photo that I'll add later.

The most impressive thing I saw was the Saint Michael caves. I nearly missed them thanks to the aforementioned waste-of-paper map, and I was glad I'd persevered. It was very surreal inside the caves; they were so amazing that it was hard to believe that they were real. Stalagtites and stalagmites thousands of years old made this more than just a huge cave - and it was huge - it was once believed to be bottomless! Now, thankfully, there are boardwalks. There's even seating set up in one area where concerts are sometimes held. One stalagtite had fallen down and so they cut the end off which revealed rings like on a tree trunk, and they believe the lines reveal dry and wet periods during the formation of the stalagtites.

I missed the other sights as they were closed by the time I found them, which really p'd me off as it wasn't particularly late and closing times hadn't been indicated anywhere, so I assumed that it'd be like in Spain, where most things are open until around 8pm, which seemed to fit with the closure of the cable car at about 7.30pm...but this isn't Spain, remember! There were WWII tunnels, an exhibition on something that I forget now but sounded excellent, and a Moorish castle.

Still, it was well worth the visit.

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