"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gem of Gibraltar

This blog post is neither gargoyle nor graffiti, but about one of my other passions ... animals. Namely in this case, the gem of Gibraltar, or my very own Barbary ape that I fell in love with on the Rock of Gibraltar. Here is my wonderful friend.
My favorite Barbary ape

The first stop on the cruise was Gibraltar. I have to admit, I was totally apathetic about this stop. I toyed with getting a ship tour that went for afternoon tea, even booked it before I left but canceled as it didn’t leave the dock until 1pm and we got in to port at 8am. I thought, what would I do until then? I hate to have to return to the ship to pick up a tour after I am out and about, so I decided the night before to play it by ear.

Harbor in the morning

By the time I got off the ship the next morning, I planned on walking to the dolphin tour and I did walk to the marina but we got in early and everything was closed up tight, the only people around were bus and taxi drivers all hollering out did I want a ride to the rock?  I didn’t. I decided to walk.

With trepidation that comes from being a 55 year old woman traveling alone, I began my journey with the Rock in sight. I stopped along the way numerous times inquiring was I headed in the right direction. I could see the Rock but was scared to get lost. If I spoke in Spanish, they shook their head and answered in English. When I spoke in English, where is the cable car, they answered in Spanish, “Teleferico?” “Si, teleferico" .. the cable car and they pointed right or left and I kept on walking. Construction was going on everywhere, buildings going up, men in hard hats pointing and waving, digging ditches. Lots of activity.

I walked for about an hour and a half and finally came to the ticket office. With some confusion over the price of the tickets as there are a few options, I opted for the complete tour and paid and a kind-faced guy with a red cap said I was with his group, and we all shoved in tight on the cable car and were whisked to the top. The cable car was a thrill!

People say the Barbary apes can be mean and snatch things, but I saw no evidence of that. I spoke to them in Spanish, poor things I said, having to live at the tip of Spain and being under British rule and they let me snap their photos and they posed this way and that. All the crowd laughed as I spoke to them in Spanish.

Our guide Alan in the red cap and shirt.

Alan, our guide, was great. He took us to the Siege Tunnels and explained how they had been cut out by hand and we walked on the jagged damp rocks, sliding down as we went …. I took baby steps so I didn’t fall and it was so damn interesting. I enjoyed that tour so much.

I marveled at the air strip as we stood at the lookout point as a plane came in with a runway so short, I held my breath until the plane landed. I saw the mist over the Rock and watched it disappear and the sun came out and the day was crisp and perfect.

Siege tunnels

I loved the crazy cars that park so close together, each and every one is battered and dented, tail lights bashed out. I listened as Alan told us about the low crime rate and how not long ago, most everyone left their doors unlocked at night and even though now they do lock their doors, the crime is still pretty negligible. I loved when he spoke of living in Spain and riding a motorbike across the border when he went to work and he pointed to his house across in another country. He was so friendly and open and kind, a man born in England who moved to Gibraltar and obviously took great pleasure in showing us around.

I cannot say what I loved more ... meeting Alan or my new friend the Barbary ape!

A great blog on the apes…..

I took a photo of a beautiful woman behind one of the apes. This is for you, my friend. I am sorry I forgot to get your email to send you a copy. Hope you see it here! (Don't forget to check out my other post on the Barbary apes .... a contest to see which one you like best!)


  1. Love this post, Luh. Keep it coming!

  2. Great break with tradition. Those barbary apes sure are cute. I have heard they are actually a type of tailless monkeys.

  3. Nice blog. I'm glad you're in my class so I connected with you!

  4. Thanks, Jeanne. Can't wait to read yours too!!!