Travel.P #64 – Gibraltar for a few days, getting sacked and back

Look round, my boys, and view how beautiful the Rock appears by the light of the glorious fire.

George Augustus Eliott, at the end of the sortie, 27 November 1781.

Before going to Gibraltar, I spend some more time with Lorna and finally left. It turned out that Gibraltar was amazing, but there was no boat anymore. The crew left a few hours before I arrived. It was very confusing for me, so I sat down and thought for hours, when I decided to explore British nearly the island a bit. I was shocked, but Gibraltar beauty caught me falling. It showed me how I don’t have to be depended on others and can manage very well by myself, so I decided to leave the crew and my friends. I lost the trust, an important factor on the water, especially on a big crossing like an ocean. In the end I can look back to a great experience and things I learned and will take with me. I lost loads of my belongings on the boat and till the day nothing was posted back to me, I was happy to pay for postage. The whole thing twisted and picked on me for a while, even after Gibraltar, but I accepted it.

Gibraltar is a strange interesting place. Alone arriving with a plane was crazy. There is the main road crossing the airport, and only small flights from the UK till 2006 are allowed. Once a plane is arriving they block the road and open it after the plane landed. Its located at the bottom of Spain and you can look across the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea to Afrika, Morocco. Gibraltar is running in Pounds, not Euros, and even the food is British, the apples were from Peru in the supermarket, where as the ones in the Spanish supermarkets, 1km further on the Spanish border site were from Spain. Crazy world.

Gibraltar is pretty much a massive rock, emerging from the sea. It is so rocky and impressive that when you stand close to it, it is hard to believe your eyes. Since I had nothing to to I explored the area for three days. At night I slept on the beach, where the cold fog was compensating on my tarp, that I rolled my sleeping bag in. Sometimes I got woken up by dogs, or passing people. I was surprised at what time during the night, people went for a walk. I also got scanned by the lights of the patrol boards, that are catching of immigrants on the water. It all felt a bid weird. Like I shouldn’t really be there. The relationship between Spain and Gibraltar is since 1830 a British colony.

The Great Siege of Gibraltar was the last unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the Brits. From 1779 – 1783 for 3 years and 7 months. The Aftermath was huge, the British garrison during the three years of siege had sustained a loss of 333 killed and 1008 wounded, which included 219 of the garrison’s gunners. Between 536 and 1,034 men died or were sick from disease. In addition, 196 civilian employees were killed and 800 died of disease. Between 12 April 1781 and 2 February 1783 Gibraltar was hit by 244,104 artillery rounds from guns ashore and 14,283 from cannon afloat. The guns of the defenders had fired 200,600 rounds and British ships had hurled another 4,728 shells and in total had expended 8,000 barrels of gunpowder. The besiegers had lost in excess of 6,000 killed or wounded, with many others sick or dead from disease. In addition many guns were destroyed, and the combined allied fleet lost a total of ten floating batteries, with one ship of the line and many gunboats captured. Together both sides fired nearly half a million rounds of shot during the Great Siege. Elliot’s defence of the Rock had tied down large numbers of Spanish and French naval and military resources that could have been valuable in other theatres of operations. Still today, Spain and Gibraltar are having tensions, resulting in closed borders, but 99% of the 35 thousand Gibralteans voted to stay British. What I really liked was that there are Muslims and Christians living together.

After a first night on the beach I went along the east side of the half island. A more remote part, way less buildings, with lovely beaches. At some point I ended at a tunnel I didn’t know about and since no one gave me a lift I was running through it. A crazy tunnel. Btw tunnels, due to the WW there are tunnels through the massive rock from west to east. Some of them available to tourists now. Once on the other side of the tunnel I saw Morocco and explored the south bit of the island with some beautiful gardens on the west bit. Later fog covered the whole area again. It so crazy how you can hear all the big ships using their fog horns to communicate. What a strange atmosphere for a place to live, very unique I found.

Another night on the beach with the following day exploring the Spanish side more. It was way, way less touristic, poorer, less looked after but with a nice flair. I liked both sides, but I liked the English side more. Its more green and vibrant. This night I spend in a hostel, and from there I took a bus to Malta the next morning, from where I took a plane to Cologne. What I really liked to do was standing at the border and watching people finish their day. It seems like most of the workers in Gibraltar are living on the Spanish side from what it looked like. More and more people crossing over and walking home after a day at work. Another thing I found impressive was the old cruiser that got converted into a hotel on the water, very good idea I thought, and even though it was so early in the year, when there was no fog, it was already boiling hot, shirt weather, even swimming was fine.

Usually when I woke up I went for a run up and down the beach, with a little swim and a short workout afterwards. I never really felt threatened sleeping on the beach, ones a dog was quite scary, barking at me, but he seemed more shocked than me, so I said sorry, sat still and went back to sleep. I was a bit disappointed when on the first day I spoke to some people and later on came back to them, to ask if I could crash on their couch, but they said very clearly no, after I explained my situation. I found that very sad and try in the future not to let anyone feel like it.

More about my Covid – 19 experience in the UK and my job, lockdown, living not on purpose at friends in Bristol – which was awesome -, and Lorna and me living in the holiday cottage and repairing it from the bottom to the top next time, see you soon!

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