Monkey-Business on the Rock

Gibraltar, La Linea, Sailing

Fortress Gibraltar, key to the Mediterranean.

From La Linea it's just a short walk to the border into Gibraltar. Except for rush hour there's no real queue and inspections are brief to none. We waved our passports around, but nobody showed much interest. Once we came back with shopping bags and an officer wanted a peek, nodded and waved us through. After crossing the border, one must walk across the runway of Gibraltar airport, which is regulated by traffic lights. From there it's maybe a 15 minute walk into the town proper. There are buses too. Leaving the boat on the Spanish side and visiting Gibraltar by land saved us the hassle of having to clear into Gibraltar by boat and the marina was cheaper too.

How to get over boat damage.

Gibraltar successfully merges English and Spanish culture, and even languages. Most locals speak at least Spanish and English as well as a unique mix of the two called Llanito. There's a lot of commuters living in La Linea and working in Gibraltar, so the border has rush hour peaks and the dock workers we met all spoke only Spanish. We learned this by getting a bit lost in some large dock loading area and having to ask for the way back out. I did manage to remember "Salida" - Spanish for exit. That got us lots of helpful pointing up a set of unmarked stairs and we found our way back to the street. Alas it didn't go much further - we had reached the other end of the country after just a few hours of exploring.

Best of both worlds.

In the middle bit there's a very typical English high street with some overpriced tourist shops, a Marks & Spencer and lots of food places, one of which we stopped at and had delicious fish & chips, washed down with Spanish beer. The Llanitos know how to combine cultures.

I didn't have nearly enough clamps and had to improvise, but it worked out okay.

Back at the boat, I had a look at the smashed starboard side rubrail, took off the stainless protector, which turned out ot be fine and removed the broken teak, which was splintered pretty badly. A couple of the long screws holding it were bent too. After some online research (the teak profile is actually available as spare part) and a few emails with the insurance, it turned out it wasn't worth making a claim. Getting parts shipped while cruising is always tricky and would've delayed us too much, so I decided to just fix up the broken teak with some epoxy for now and deal with replacement parts later, if need be. This worked pretty well and I'm half tempted to just varnish the rail to protect the epoxy when we get to our winter berth by the end of the year.

Some monkeys might look cute, but they can bite. You've been warned.

Another day we ventured up the rock by cable car. We figured it would be easier to ride up and walk down. At the top there's of course the famous monkeys, but the botanical garden near the cable car base station is not to be missed either. It even has a small zoo, with a lot of talking parrots. I didn't really want to go, but Elvyra dragged me into there and I'm glad she did.

He likes to move it, move it.
These guys were perfectly content chilling like this all day.
Pretty things grow in the botanical garden.

On the cablecar ride up, we realized we hadn't really checked the weather before going. It turned out we were up the rock on a day with easterly winds (Levante) blowing, which meant the rock was operating its famous cloud factory at full capacity. So instead of a view over the Mediterranean looking east, we just stuck our heads into thick fog, and even on the recently opened "Skywalk" there was nothing to see but blank white. Oh well, the view of Gibraltar bay on the other side was fine too - once you got down a bit and your head out of the clouds.

Cloud factory.
Tourism really is monkey-business here.
They, too, had their heads in the cloud.

We walked along the top ridge of the rock, then down and all the way to a viewing platform near the southern end of the country, where we had a little picnic. Do not picnic in the monkey area - you'll end up hungry and on YouTube. From there we still had to walk all the way back to Spain and to the boat. Needless to say, we were pretty knackered the next day, and only wandered around La Linea a bit, which didn't seem to have much going for it.

Once you get out of the cloud, the view is pretty amazing.

On the last day here we went just across the border into Gibraltar. Almost on the border, there's a big Spanish supermarket. But unlike most of them, it stocks a lot of British products, so we could replenish some essential supplies that are hard to get elsewhere.

I did feed this monkey, now look what happened.