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The British territory of Gibraltar looms on the horizon long before your cruise ship approaches. You’ll see the limestone Rock of Gibraltar as your ship moves in to dock close to the city centre, and will have easy access to everything once you set foot on the land. The Rock contains a labyrinth of tunnels, linking more than 140 caves, and is covered outside by Barbary macaques that will steal food, plastic bags and anything you’re carrying that’s not attached to your body. Meanwhile, off the coast you’ll have the opportunity to see a great variety of marine life. If you’re not bored of time on the water, then two-hour boat trips allow an unforgettable opportunity to see whales, turtles, dolphins and flying fish.
Despite covering only four square miles, Gibraltar isn’t easy to navigate on foot. The Rock is 1400 feet high, and you’ll find that the city’s covered in an abundance of very steep roads. Within the Rock, a further 30 miles of road lead you through the limestone and up towards the top. As you make your way around, you’ll quickly see the influence of Britain on Gibraltar. The attractions are plentiful, and you’ll find it hard to see everything you want to experience:
Rock of Gibraltar Cable Car
There are a few ways to make your way up the Rock of Gibraltar. The easiest and cheapest is an eight-minute ascent by cable car. It’s the best way to enjoy the local scenery, and to see Africa and Spain in the distance. You don’t have to make the journey in one go, as there’s a stop at Ape’s Den which is the cave home of the Barbary macaques.
The breathtaking Upper St. Michael’s Cave is an echoing cavern that’s a concert venue and top tourist attraction. When live performances aren’t taking place, visitors can still appreciate the acoustics with classical music piped through speakers.
Being on a cruise doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the latest movie releases. Films in Gibraltar are released at the same time as in the UK, though cinema tickets are much cheaper. Once you’ve appreciated the island’s history and natural beauty, take a break and watch that film you’ve been hoping to see.
As it’s influenced by Britain, Gibraltar has many shops that you’ll recognise from home. Chain fashion stores and supermarkets can be found throughout, though they’re interspersed with independent souvenir shops that you’ll want to visit and enjoy. The apes are Gibraltar’s mascots, and so most stores sell ornaments and stuffed toys featuring a wide variety of monkeys as a reminder of your visit.
As well as ape souvenirs, you’ll be able to buy Gibraltar Crystal items including glasses and vases, from the glass factory in the town square. Other options include leather items, clothes and accessories, as well as colourful linen and material products of the type you’d find on mainland Spain.
Most of the foods you’ll find on your shore excursion are those that you’d also find closer to home. Traditional ‘pub grub’ ranging from pies to steaks and from fish and chips to a homemade shepherd’s pie are available on many menus. The paved streets of Irish Town are the best places to find your favourite pub meals.
If you do want food that you won’t find elsewhere, then you’ll have to make an effort to seek out Gibraltar’s staples. Calentita is baked chickpea flour dough that’s flavoured with salt and black pepper, whilst panissa is made of the same ingredients but cut into strips, fried in olive oil and often served with toppings. Before returning to your cruise ship seek out a japonesa, which is a fried doughnut filled with custard cream.
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