Our final day in Gibraltar gave us an opportunity to explore more of the territory. From our base at the Rock Hotel we took a morning stroll all the way around to Camp Bay, a small rocky beach overlooking the Bay of Gibraltar.
Due to its location at the southern end of the bay, it benefits from more sunshine than other parts of the Rock that can sometimes be shaded. Camp Bay features a lido with two pools and is also home to an artificial reef popular with divers, and a haven for marine life.
Overlooking the bay is the fortress of Parson’s Lodge Battery. Strategically placed, it covered the entrance to Rosia Bay and is still in use today as a training area for military exercises.
At the southern end of Camp Bay lies the smaller and aptly named Little Bay, a natural cove with its own pool. On the cliff facing Little Bay we admired a waterfall that we later discovered is artificial. The cascade is actually salt water on its way back to the ocean after having been processed in a water desalination plant. Owing to Gibraltar’s small size, this is the only means of supplying water to the territory.
We continued through a short tunnel hewn out of rock and soon reached Rosia Bay. It’s Gibraltar’s only natural harbour and the former base of H.M. Dockyard Gibraltar, built at the end of the 19th century and used extensively by the Royal Navy until the early 1980’s. This was where HMS Victory was towed following Admiral Horatio Nelson leading the British navy to victory in the Battle of Trafalgar. The Nelson’s Anchorage memorial commemorates the historic spot where his body was brought to shore before being transported to the U.K. and of where warships once anchored.
Our morning stroll continued onto Grand Casemates Square located at the north end of Main Street, a place we’d enjoyed visiting numerous times during our week long stay. It takes its name from the British built bomb proof barracks at the northern end of the square. With its numerous cafes and bars, it has a relaxing vibe and stunning views of the Moorish Castle on the Rock.
Located just south of Grand Casemates Square is Irish Town, a narrow pedestrian thoroughfare and one of Gibraltar’s oldest streets featuring a variety of shops, bars and cafes. We’d experienced a wonderful mix of dining options during our stay so it seemed only fitting that before returning home we should include a visit to a traditional British pub.
We settled on The Clipper, a popular pub along Irish Town with a nautical theme and decided to sit outside, making the most of the warm weather while we could. Service was friendly and our freshly prepared sandwiches filled to the brim with prawns arrived promptly and tasted delicious. The pub was doing a roaring lunchtime trade and it was just as well that we had opted to sit outdoors as all the tables inside the pub seemed to be occupied.
After leaving the pub we had one final wander through the shops on vibrant Main Street and on reaching the far end our attention was drawn to the brightly coloured façade of the Inces Hall Theatre. Ben Eine, a prolific street artist from London who is noted for his alphabet lettering in England, France and Sweden was invited to decorate the façade with the words “That’s Entertainment by him”. It certainly looked bright and cheerful as we passed by.
Glancing at our watches, we decided there was ample time to take another stroll through the Alameda Botanical Gardens as they were close to our hotel. On our visit earlier in the week we’d concentrated mostly on the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park so this time we explored more of the gardens.
The plants contained in the gardens are a combination of native species and others brought in from overseas. These are mainly from former British territories such as Australia and South Africa with which Gibraltar had maritime links at the time of the British Empire. Since the early 1990’s many new varieties have been planted, some of them growing in Gibraltar for the first time.
The gardens are terraced into the steep hillside and laid out with interconnecting winding paths. They contain interesting features such as a traditional British red telephone kiosk and a whale’s jawbone used to create an archway.
The Giuseppe Codali bridge with its shady pergola spans the Dell and Sunken Garden affording superb views down onto the Gibraltar Coat of Arms set into its lawn. The crest, comprising a three towered red castle with a golden key hanging beneath it is a really beautiful sight. Do make time to visit the gardens as they are easily accessible being close to the town centre and adjacent to the cable car lower station.
It was then reluctantly time to return to the historic Rock Hotel to collect our luggage and make the short journey back to the airport. The hotel had been perfect in every respect and we had been made to feel very welcome by its dedicated staff.
In less than fifteen minutes we had arrived at the airport and after checking in our luggage we took the escalator up to the open-air viewing terrace to take in the dramatic views of the Rock for one last time and to watch a Wizz Air plane come into land. Eastern Airways will shortly commence operating flights into Gibraltar joining British Airways, EasyJet and Wizz Air who already have regular services from the United Kingdom.
Before we left home friends questioned whatever we might find to do for an entire week in an area covering only 6.8 km2. Although it’s undeniably tiny, Gibraltar punches above its weight with its wide range of top attractions, activities, accommodation and high quality dining options.
Would you believe that there were actually so many fun things to do in the territory that we didn’t find time to complete them all. Still, its a good reason to return, not that we needed one as our stay in this small outpost of Britain on the Mediterranean has already won a lasting place in our hearts.
During our stay in Gibraltar we were guests of the Gibraltar Tourist Board but as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.
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