Location: Gibraltar

Blog: day 49
Monkey Business
Will Hammer (I’m talking about a hike again!)

Fun fact (just speculation): Gibraltar has the most cannons per capita of any country. I’m not sure if this is true, but there is quite literally a cannon every block, and the rock is literally full of them. The British really care about this rock.

Our day started early, far too early, judging by the speed at which we climbed the companionway for breakfast and packed lunch assembly. Before we knew it, we were tying our hiking shoes and setting out for the historical Rock of Gibraltar. Our climb up the tight city streets quickly helped immerse us in the dense yet beautiful architecture of Gibraltar.

The urban setting quickly transitioned to the well-known Mediterranean dry bush; small trees offered some spots for shade. After a quick stop at the viewpoint of the straight, we set our sights on the top. The Mediterranean steps certainly tested our glutes and quads, but small caves and shear cliffs kept us interested as we climbed to the top. A narrow section of switchback stairs and we were there, overlooking three countries, some of the most important stretches of ocean in history. It was a sight to behold.

After touring a decommissioned gun, which shot shells the size of us, the group headed to the caves. Holy s***, they were a sight to behold. Photos attempt to do it justice, but it’s hard to demonstrate the scale of the stalactites and stalagmites that hung for the top. The air was cool, the ambient lighting was tasteful, and the soundtrack was reminiscent of Interstellar. It truly felt like an alien world.

We continued to traverse the rock, testing our nerves on a suspension bridge and checking out countless abandoned structures that dotted the paths. After a short debate and some mild peer pressure, we choose more stairs! These stairs, however, were far more formidable. While the Mediterranean stairs were carved into the rock and winded up the cliffside, these were just stairs. A lot of stairs. Four pitches, a couple hundred meters, looking down at us ominously. After successfully destroying our quads and glutes (again), we had once and again summited the rock.

This was where our first true interaction with the other local primates happened. It was truly shocking and somewhat terrifying to see their comfort with the other tourists. I believe our group’s consensus was, “This is sketchy.” Doing our best to ignore the greedy and temperamental apes, we continued to the top, where we had rumors of a small cafe. Blessed by much-needed smoothies and air conditioning, we sat and admired the stunning views. After some time in the cafe and brief monkey-staining contests, we split. Some choose to ride the tram down to town and return to Argo. Others down-climbed, descending the stairs and walking down through the town. Sweaty, tired, and blistered, we returned to Argo and quickly put ourselves together for a delicious and well-deserved shore dinner at a waterfront restaurant in the marina. This was the only proper way to conclude a day of rock and cave exploration.