Mon 30 Dec ‘13 – day 16 It was still dark when the Pilot boarded the ship as she passed around Europa Point, the southernmost place in Gibraltar and on which is situated one of the lighthouses that helps guide ships safely through the straits.
I spent a very enjoyable few days here a few years ago when I stayed at the Rock Hotel and walked the length of the Rock as well right up to as high as I could go. The highest points on the Rock are military radio and radar installations, but it is possible to get some fantastic views down into town or across to the border town of La Linea.
As this is just a ½ day call I am off in to town and have walked the length of Main Street before the shops have opened. So I located a café near the Governor’s Residence which is called the Convent and proceeded to have a cappuccino and toasted cheese and onion baguette – delicious.
In the Gibraltar Chronicle, the local newspaper, the front page had a picture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II leaving St Mary Magdalene church on the Sandringham estate and stories covering the Governor’s Christmas message, Ed Miliband supporting Gibraltar remaining British and an article about Spain stepping up border controls. So it was not hard to see where the sympathies of this newspaper lie.
The Governor is always a senior retired British military office and the current incumbent is Sir James Dutton, who was a Royal Marine officer and had only been in post for two weeks.
Having finished writing my postcards and reading the newspaper it was time to make my way back down Main Street. Next to the Residence is the Chapel and further down the street is the Catholic Church; it was easy to see the British influence here; the local police wear UK style uniform and there are the familiar red telephone and pillar boxes; I am not sure which GR the symbol on the front of the post box refers to.
In Casemates Square which was the parade ground when Gibraltar was a military garrison, a stage had been erected as the locals are getting ready to celebrate the New Year.
Today a BBQ lunch was being served by the Riviera Pool and as this was a sheltered spot, crowds arrive to have a meal in the sun.
The passage through Straits was excellent as you could see the Pillars of Hercules on the European and African shores very clearly. The ship then passed the lighthouse on Punta de Tarifa, the southernmost point of mainland Europe, where the fast ferries dodge the shipping in the Straits of Gibraltar as they shuttled between Algeciras and Tangier, before changing to a north westerly course as we headed for Cabo Trafalgar.
Tonight was yet another black tie night and the occasion of the P&O Peninsular Club Cocktail Party where the Captain welcomes the frequent cruisers and gives them an update about what is happening in the Company.