May 5, 2018
Our room was dark and quiet so we slept well. Finally we got up after 8 am, got our packs ready for the day, and went out to find breakfast. Just along the street from us was a café selling churros y chocolate, so in we went. The food came quickly and was hot and tasty.
We were here in La Línea de la Concepción because we wanted to visit Gibraltar, but we didn’t want to have to deal with pounds as well as Euros on this trip. Especially Gibraltar pounds. So we walked the 500 meters to the border; there were no formalities for us other than showing our passports to the Spanish and Gibraltar agents.
The first thing we did was to purchase a tourist map from a vending machine for € 1, so we could get our bearings. It was quite large so when we opened it up, it flapped about a lot. After walking across the airport runway we walked along the main street until we reached the Grand Casemate Square. It was a bit strange at first, having been in Spain for the last ten days, but soon the English signs became normal again. The square had fish-and-chip shops and the street had shops like Marks and Spencer.
We looked around the square briefly and then continued towards the cable car terminus, stopping briefly and the Trafalgar Cemetery. The cemetery was mostly for people who died around the battle of Trafalgar, but it had some birds too. Sure, they were just ordinary birds like European Robin, but we hadn’t seen them in Spain yet.
It wasn’t far to the cable car, and the line-up went very quickly despite what the taxi drivers were telling people—they said it would take 45 minutes to get onto the cable car, but it really only took about 10 minutes. And then it only took us six minutes to reach the top. Up there a cold wind was blowing clouds over the ridge, so it was lucky we had brought some warm clothing. We looked around the various viewpoints and then started out on the trails.
Soon we found the “apes”, the Barbary macaques, but they didn’t seem too interested in people. They were fun to watch, though, jumping and playing around. And one was having a lot of trouble separating the silver paper from a chocolate bar! We carried on along the trails so that we could stop at the various historical sites, and we also looked at birds, of which there weren’t many. With the wind from the east most migrant birds cross the strait via Tarifa, not Gibraltar. We did see a Eurasian Blackcap but we had to play its call and then watch for it to respond. We certainly heard many more than we actually saw.
One of the highlights on the way down was St. Michael’s Cave. The cave is huge, with many beautiful and intricate limestone formations. And besides that there were multi-coloured lights and music illuminating it all. It was much more than we had expected.
The next stop on the way down was the Great Siege Tunnels. Inside there were various displays describing the history of the tunnels, which were built in the 18th century to defend Gibraltar against the Spanish and French. Imagining what it would be like to be in one of the tunnels when a cannon was fired was almost impossible! There were a great many more military sites on the Rock but they didn’t seem that interesting.
Lower down we visited the 8th-century Moorish Castle, which is now only a shell. From there the route down to the town followed the Castle Steps, which were quite long and also awkward to walk down; we finally got down to the main square at 2:30 pm and both of us were very hungry. We went to a fish-and-chip shop in Great Casemate Square, our main meal of the day in Spanish style, and the fish and chips were very good and took care of our hunger.
Back in La Línea we had a siesta before going out for dinner, again at La Bodeguya. We each had a pork bun, and then decided to splurge on dessert. But we both decided that the savoury part of the meal was much better. We headed to bed early tonight because we needed to be up early tomorrow; our taxi would arrive at 8 am to take us to the San Roque station.
Postscript: May 5, 2018 was eBird’s Global Big Day. Naturally we put our bird sightings (only 12 species) into eBird. When they posted the results for the Big Day we checked them out to see how many other people had entered reports from Gibraltar. The answer: Nobody. It was just the two of us with our miserable 12 species representing Gibraltar to the world!