Monday, May 20, 2013

Stranded at one of the Far-corners of Europe

While visiting my brother in Spain, we took one excursion to the Southern edge of the Iberian Peninsula which is the British territory of Gibraltar.  Beside the military operations it contains the famous rock of Gibraltar which rises over 400 meters above sea level. 

We went there on a breezy day in May and since I wanted to see into Africa, we decided to take the cable car to the top of the mountain.  In the early 12th century, the Southern Iberian Peninsula was conquered by the Mores who left fortresses and castles including one on the lower part of the Rock of Gibraltar.  We were able to see it as we ascended in cable car. 
When we arrived at the top we were greeted by the rare Barbary Macaques, the only free living “monkeys” in Europe.  Even though they have their feeding places, they like to sneak treats from the tourists.  They jump unto the cars or buses and playfully show off their tailless bodies.  We were watching one older Barbary enjoy a box of crackers, while a younger monkey was eyeing him and trying to get his share.  Anytime the younger animal got close to the older one he would hiss at the young creature and scare him off. 

We went to the observation plateau and marveled at the beautiful scenery below and above where seagulls took pleasure in the currents of the wind coming up the mountain.  I was thinking of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s story.”  While I was trying to take a picture of a seagull above my head I notice that my balance wasn’t so steady, considering that I was standing with pretty much only air around me.  The wind was blowing hard and I had to hold on to the railing of the observatory.


After we had seen all the pretty flowers, saw some more monkeys and took pictures of the “other continent” on the other side of the strait of Gibraltar ( the separation is only about 20 miles, and on that clear day we were able to see the mountains of Morocco) we decided to take the cable car back down.   We were lucky as one car was just leaving and the operator even opened the door again for us, only to learn a few minutes later that they had to close down the operation due to high winds.  We were told to wait in the coffee shop for a bus to transport us down the mountain.  Since all the roads up the mountain are only one-way, we had to wait 3 hours for our turn, with the number 3 printed on our tickets.  While waiting we enjoyed free coffee, water and finally were given a certificate that showed us being present at the “Top of the Rock.”

Even though we were never in any danger, I was very glad when I had solid ground again under my feed when we arrived safely by bus at the bottom of the cable care station.

1 comment:

Yusun Abrahams said...

I still can't believe how close you got to those monkeys. Very cool experience... thanks for sharing!