Day 2. The top of the Rock, Gibraltar

Pulling back the curtains we witnessed the most beautiful sunrise over the bay and it made me so happy to be spending time in wonderful Gibraltar.  Breakfast at The Rock Hotel takes place in the Terrace Restaurant where we tucked into a large buffet selection of fresh fruit, cold meats, cheese, bread and pastries.  Eggs are cooked to order in any way you wish and my poached eggs on toast arrived promptly and were just as I like them.  Attentive waiters were on hand to refill our coffee cups setting us up nicely for the day ahead.

Alameda Botanic Gardens, GIbraltar
Alameda Botanic Gardens

We didn’t have very far to go to reach our first activity as it was just across the road in the Alameda Botanic Gardens.  The gardens are free to visit and cover an area of 15 acres.  They were established in 1816 when the British Governor General commissioned a park for the soldiers stationed in the territory to enjoy relaxing in whilst off duty.

British telephone box and Cable Car, Gibraltar
A British telephone box and a view of the Rock Hotel taken from the gardens

Nestled in one corner of the gardens is the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park.  It’s mission is to care for exotic animals confiscated by Gibraltar customs and unwanted exotic pets.  The park also receives animals on loan from international zoos to raise awareness of endangered species through conservation.  Entrance to the wildlife park is a nominal £5 and a small selection of souvenirs can also be purchased at the kiosk to help fund the project.

The Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park, Gibraltar
Being shown around by Jessica, the Wildlife Park Manager

We had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Leaper, the Wildlife Park Manager who showed us around explaining how the animals had come to be there.  Jess is very passionate and during the last 12 years has introduced many new initiatives to the zoo.  Set amongst lush vegetation, we wandered along narrow winding pathways observing some very chatty parrots, inquisitive otters running around, bats hanging upside down, snakes, tortoises, lemurs and numerous other species.

Otters in the Alameda Wildlife Park, Gibraltar
Otters in the Alameda Wildlife Park

My favourite, surprisingly were the pot bellied pigs one of whom was having oil rubbed into his back to help relieve a skin condition.  I also fell in love with an adorable rabbit called Billy who had the most appealing eyes.  If I wasn’t away from home so much I’d just love one like him.

Pot bellied pig in the Alameda Wildlife Park, Gibraltar
A pot bellied pig in the wildlife park

After leaving the wildlife park we spent some time strolling around the botanical gardens.  For such a small territory Gibraltar isn’t short of green spaces and in this oasis of calm we spotted locals participating in tai-chi beside the lake with its koi carp and exotic water lilies.

Ornamental lake, Alameda Botanical Gardens, Gibraltar
The ornamental lake

Winter temperatures are significantly warmer here than home but reminding us of its Britishness, there is even a traditional red telephone box.  An open-air theatre completes the picture, seating almost 450 and home to a host of concerts, shows and weddings.  With the proximity of the gardens to our hotel, hopefully we’ll find time to pop in again during our stay.

South Bastion City Wall, Gibraltar
The South Bastion Entrance Gate

A short downhill walk followed to stroll through the old city walls at South Bastion, one of the three 16th century fortification Southport Gates.  This brought us out onto Main Street, the main artery through the city stretching for almost 1 km all the way to Grand Casemates Square.

The Convent, GIbraltar
The Convent, Government House, Gibraltar

Not far from the city gates stands The Convent, the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar since 1728.  The building takes its name as it was originally a convent of Franciscan friars.  Between 1903-1943 it was known as Government House until King George VI reinstated the name convent during the Second World War.

Number 6, Convent Place, Gibraltar
Number 6, Convent Place

Facing The Convent is the Convent Guard House at Number 6 Convent Place.  It’s Gibraltar’s answer to London’s 10 Downing Street and the headquarters of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and is where the Chief Minister’s Office is located.

Main Street, Gibraltar
Main Street with its British red post box and branch of Marks & Spencer

Main Street is a shopper’s delight with its VAT free prices and mix of British high street names including the likes of Marks & Spencer & Debenhams rubbing shoulders with local stores such as the upscale Trends department store.  Also to be be found are a mix of small independents, Spanish retailers, Moroccan greengrocers along with numerous bars and cafes.  Above the shopfronts, Gibraltar’s rich heritage can be seen with decorative Portuguese tiles, Genoese shutters and elegant British wrought iron balconies.

Sacarello's Coffee Shop, Gibraltar
Sacarello’s Coffee Shop

Running parallel with Main Street is Irish Town, it’s not a town but just a narrow lane with a good selection of bars and cafes.  We popped into Sacarello’s, a coffee shop/ coffee roasting business in a former merchants house on the corner of Tuckey’s Lane, which has traded there since 1906.  The cafe is arranged over two floors and exudes old world charm.  We settled down at a cosy corner table to sip our delicious cappuccinos, rest our feet, and soak up the convivial atmosphere for awhile.

Cable Car to the Top of the Rock, Gibraltar
The Cable Car to the top of the Rock

A highlight of a visit to Gibraltar is undoubtedly to take a ride on the cable car to the top of the Rock and with clear blue skies, the weather couldn’t have been better for our trip.  The bottom cable car station is located near the southern end of Main Street close to the Botanical Gardens so we headed there next.

The Gibraltar Cable Car
Getting in the cable car

Round trip cable car tickets cost £17 for the 6 minute journey, taking passengers 412m to the top of the Rock.  For those feeling energetic it might be a good idea to just ride the cable car to the top and then walk back down by following one of the signposted trails through the reserve.

Views from the Gibraltar Cable Car
View from the cable car

The views from the cable car are breathtaking and on reaching the top station we were greeted with a troop of Barbary monkeys.  Having taken part in the Monkey Talk experience the previous day, we put our knowledge into practice and by keeping calm and standing our ground the apes merely gave us a passing glance and then continued with whatever they were doing.

View from the Top Cable Car station, terrace, Gibraltar
Views from the top cable car station terrace

If the views had been stunning on the upward journey, then they were even more spectacular from the top station terrace.  We gazed down in wonderment over the town below, and standing on the edge of two continents were in almost touching distance of both Spain and Morocco.

View from Mons Calpe Restaurant, Gibraltar
View from the Mons Calpe Restaurant

Our table reservation was at the Mons Calpe Suite perched on the summit of the Rock and boasting the best views in town from its 360 degree restaurant windows.  Mons Calpe means ‘hollow mountain’ as the Rock contains a warren of tunnels hewn out over time to defend the historic fortress.

Main course, Mons Calpe Restaurant, Gibraltar
My main of Iberico Secreto at Mons Calpe

The restaurant menu offers a wide selection from lobster to the more humble fish and chips and our selected mains of Prawn and Mushroom Risotto and Iberico Secreto (a tender slice of ham served on a bed of leeks and potato) tasted delicious.

Barbary macaque on top of the Rock, Gibraltar
A barbary macaque sitting on top of the Rock viewed from our window table

The ambience and setting of this iconic restaurant coupled with delicious food and friendly service creates a thoroughly memorable experience.  With views to die for and being able to watch the Barbary macaques through the floor to ceiling windows, I’ve had no difficulty rating it as my favourite sky high restaurant ever!

Barbary macaques at the Top of the Rock, Gibraltar
Barbary macaques near the top Cable Car Station

Before taking the cable car back down we spent time exploring the area around the top station.  If you wish to combine a cable car ride with a visit to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve its necessary to pay an entrance fee of £13.

Sunset views from our balcony at The Rock Hotel, Gibraltar
Sunset views from our balcony at The Rock Hotel

The views were equally good on our way down and with few passengers on board the cable car we had photo opportunities aplenty.  After such a wonderful experience we wandered back up the hill to our lovely hotel taking no more than 15 minutes from the lower station.  Here we enjoyed more sublime views looking out to sea from our balcony.  The end of another splendid day exploring Gibraltar.

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71 thoughts on “Day 2. The top of the Rock, Gibraltar

  1. Pingback: Day 6. Paddle boarding & dolphin watching in Gibraltar – Love Travelling Blog

  2. The whole vibe of the Rock reminds me a bit of Cape town. Interesting. I never had desire to go there, but these pictures make me wish to go. Also, it’s so close to Africa… It might be easy to cross. Is it?

    And those monkeys, sometimes they can be a real danger, I’m not sure for those in Gibraltar but in Cambodia we were scared and run away the moment they felt we have food. We gave them the peace and then bunch of cousin monkeys showed up and started attacking the food.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Oliver for your kind words,I’m certain you would enjoy visiting Gibraltar as it’s a fascinating little place. It’s quite easy to get across to Morocco either by ferry or 25 minute flight so you could perhaps combine both in one trip. I’ve never been to Cape Town but would love to get there when it’s possible again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cape Town is quite beautiful place on its own. It’s very picturesque and the Table Mountain was an experience, especially the hiking up. It was a bit challenging, but when you get up, it’s worth all the effort. Similar like your adventure. But way wild and untouched, and then you can actually feel and see the effect of the confluence of Atlantic and Indian Ocean together.

        The only downside of Cape Town, it can be quite dangerous, but if you are with the trusted locals, it’s safe.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The cable car is perfectly safe but I can understand that it’s not for everyone. Visitors can reach the top by tour bus, taxi or walk if preferred. Have you ever visited Gibraltar on any of your cruise trips as it’s a regular port of call? Thanks for taking an interest in this post Anna, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think I would not mind the walk up to the top, I like hiking and I am a bit scared of heights. Unfortunately, I have never been to Gibraltar. I have never given it much thought tbh, but maybe I should after seeing what you can do there!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Gibraltar is such an amazing small territory Andy and I’m happy to be able to spread the word with my recent visit. It’s actually quite accessible both with its own airport or by visiting from the Malaga, Andalucia region of Spain. Hope your week is going well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  3. jasonlikestotravel

    Ah, I’m pleased to read that you were able to take the cable car. I’m sure I saw somewhere that it was seasonal and I didn’t think it’d be operating by the time you visited. Some wonderful views up there 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This brought back some memories. I played some gigs out there in about ’89 or ’90 and loved “The Rock”. In truth, it does not seem to have changed much. I didn’t stay in a fancy hotel, they put me up in the Toc H!

    Great piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Gibraltar Cable car is a very impressive ride Ian. I’ve travelled along the funicular up to Victoria Peak numerous times and enjoyed that too. I’m yet to visit Rio or anywhere else in South America but hopefully one day I’ll get there! So pleased that you are continuing to enjoy my Gibraltar posts, thanks for commenting. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What a beautiful day in Gibraltar. Those animals at the zoo are incredibly cute, especially the pot-bellied pig! Views from the top are stunning, and it really is fascinating to see literally the edge of the land straddled between two countries, let alone a continent. I hope to see this beauty for myself someday. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Rebecca for your kind words about my visit to the Alameda Gardens and the Top of the Rock. Both were delightful but the views from the top cable car station absolutely spectacular. I d hope you get a chance to experience Gibraltar for yourself one day, I’m sure you will! Take care, Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I went to Gibraltar in 2015. I had left the car at La Linea de Concepcion, I crossed the border on foot and I took a bus to the city centre.
    I see the monkeys are still there! Beware of them, as they can sometimes be aggressive for food.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How lovely to read that you visited Gibraltar five years ago and arrived from Ka Linea. The monkeys are still thriving and as much a part of Gibraltar as it’s famous Rock. It’s a wonderful destination with a surprising number of things to see and do. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love cable car rides! those red telephone boxes and post boxes, cool! it is after all, a British territory. but I wonder for how long? I’ve read before something about becoming a part of Spain

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Gibraltar is very British and its residents fervently so. It’s highly unlikely to become part of Spain and legend has it that as long as the monkeys remain on the Rock, it will always stay British. I love the traditional red phone boxes and post boxes too. Those phone boxes are few and far between here in the U.K. now though some have been repurposed into mini community libraries, etc. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s lovely to hear from you.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. That’s the tour I did! I remember the view very well and it’s also a picture I would like to print and hang on the wall. Gibraltar is so unique, with a british atmosphere but a spanish climate and appearance. Green spaces and variety of animals give Gibraltar a reason to be visited at least once in our lives

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m so pleased that this post reflects your day in Gibraltar. Taking the cable car is definitely an unforgettable experience and you have summarised this small British territory beautiful. Thanks again for your welcome thoughts and enjoy the remainder of the weekend. Marion

      Liked by 3 people

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