Gibraltar – More than the Rock

Map of trip from Jarez to Gibralter to Marbella
Via Google Maps

The day was still young when we once again boarded our bus leaving Jerez and heading toward our overnight destination; the Mediterranean seaside town of Marbella, Spain. This was a very busy travel day which began early.

Before we would arrive at our accommodations for the next two nights, we were going to take a quick tour of picturesque Gibraltar.


Gibraltar was captured by the British Fleet in 1704 during the war of the Spanish Succession. On 4th August 1704, an Anglo-Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral George Rooke took Gibraltar from the Spanish. From dawn on that day and for the next five hours, some 15,000 canons were fired from the fleet into the city. The invaders, led by the English majority, landed the same morning and not surprisingly encountered little opposition.

Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 Gibraltar was ceded to Britain. This treaty stated “the town, castle and fortifications were to be held and enjoyed for ever without any exception or impediment whatsoever.” This treaty was renewed again in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, and in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles.

Via Historic UK – learn more at the link!

As we approached Gibraltar, the famous “rock” came into view and the waters of the strait of Gibraltar provided a fitting backdrop.

Strait of Gibraltar

The shipping lane was busy with ships laden with their various cargoes. From the same vantage point along the road, we were able to view the Rock of Gibraltar in all of its glory.

Rock of Gibraltar - First View

Once our traveling companions had snapped their share of the landmark. photos, we quickly made our way back to the bus and headed for the entry checkpoint with passports in hand.

Crossing the Border from Spain to Gibraltar

I must confess that I knew nearly nothing of what tourists might want to see prior to our tour of Gibraltar and I was pleasantly surprised. Once across the border and after we connected with a local bus driver/guide, we pulled into a waterfront rest stop known as Europa Point.

Forget the sodas, snacks and ice cream! This is a beautiful, photogenic landscape at the very tip of Gibraltar overlooking the strait. On a clear day, visitors can see Africa as we did. Apparently this is the most narrow stretch of water separating the two continents.

The colorful lighthouse against the green-blue waters caught my immediate attention; stunning!

Lighthouse at Europa Point

Also picture worthy was the ongoing construction of the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque. Not only is it the the southernmost mosque in Europe, it is reportedly one of the largest Mosques in a non-Muslim country. King Fahd Al-Sau gifted this holy shrine to the people of Gibraltar and the world in tribute to the Moorish influence in the area.

Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque

Since our visit a year ago, the mosque has been completed. You can read more about it and see current photographs HERE.

After our rest stop, it was back on the bus with our very clever, funny and informative driver/guide. Our target was the Cave of St. Michael and the famous Barbary Macaques (think monkeys) that are protected and roam the area.

Here is a brief history of the Macaques in Girbaltar:

“The macaques’ presence on the Rock gained popularity during the Great Siege of Gibraltar between 1779-1783, during which Spain and France launched an ongoing assault upon British Gibraltar by sea and land. One surprise attack – so the legend goes – was thwarted by the monkeys who were disturbed in the night, and in turn alerted the night watch to the attack. This legend gave rise to the saying that as long as the monkeys remain on the Rock, so will the British. It is also known that General George Eliott, a governor of Gibraltar in the late 1800s, would not suffer apes to be molested or taken.”

via The New Statesman – learn more at the link.

Barbary Macaque

We were rightly warned to keep our belongings close as these clever denizens are quick to “steal” sunglasses, candy, ice cream or anything else they can get their hands on. One driver was very familiar to these macaques as they climbed on his window ledge to greet him as he passed by.

Visitors will want to take many pictures of the tribe as they are very cute and nonplussed by all the visitors. After all, they are the land barons at this location.

After taking several pictures, we ascended the walkway to the cave entrance. This is a beautiful cave HOWEVER, the natural structure and beauty of the attraction was, in my estimation, diminished by the use of strobe-like lights that continually changed color and cast hues across the cave formations. In addition there was music blaring in the background.

Cave of St. Michael

There really was no need for this as the natural beauty of this cave would certainly “speak for itself.” It was something to behold, but denigrated to a gaudy status. Sorry, but that is how I feel.

I was able to capture slightly more natural pictures during the lighting changes. You can see the color change shifting at the bottom of the frame.

Cave of St. Michael

After exiting the cave via a series of well constructed pathways, there was a bit more time for additional monkey business.

Barbary Macaque

This was a fun stop and I recommend it if you have a chance. The history is unique and interesting and the natural attractions are certainly worthy.

Barbary Macaque

Perhaps one of the best angles of the Rock of Gibraltar was from our bus window as we passed along the roadway traveling toward Marbella and a well-deserved rest!

Rock of Gibraltar - Best View


Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.


Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE



All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 –

Exploring Astoria, Oregon – Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post (see link below), we found much to do during our August, 2017 visit to Astoria, OR. We continued to explore the town and the nearby riverfront. The morning was very hazy/foggy; some of it caused by the abundant wildfires in surrounding areas.

Walking by the river, there were many scenes I found picture-worthy such as this shot of the sun poking out behind the crows nest of a small ship.

Waterfront ship's crows nest with sun

We were interested in a paddle wheeler, the American Empress, that was moored at a nearby dock. We headed toward the ship and met two passengers along the way. They explained that the steamship was sidelined because of the wildfires and was “stuck” in Astoria until the air quality and wildfires improved enough for them to head upriver.

Paddleboat Steamship anchored in Astoria

Even the moss covered pylons against the mossy green and grey of the rocks led to a few colorful snaps.

Moss covered rocks and pilons create a colorful scene

We often enjoy speaking with the agents at the local visitor’s center and I need to brag about the Astoria staff and facility. They had many varied and interesting resources and we enjoyed learning about some of the local favorites uncovered through our questioning of the agents. The bus below was parked outside and little did I know it was the living quarters of someone and not an attraction; sorry!

Fanciful bus outside the visitor's center

Even with the fog, the aura of the waterfront was alluring and picturesque.

The fog created an eeerie waterfront mood

We read about the Astoria Column and the staff at the visitor’s center encouraged us to visit. There is a small parking fee of $5 that covers a year of parking. The car ride was uphill and the road to the tower was curvy. The column was constructed 600 feet above sea level on Coxcomb Hill. It is 125 feet high and those electing to ascend it will need to climb 164 steps.

Once in the parking area, you can look around and notice some of the sights Astoria has to offer. The view below shows the Megler Bridge partially covered by fog.

walking up the hill to the Astoria Column

You can see a person walking to the tower. If you don’t need to park, the visit is free!

Below is another view from the parking area.

Another view from the Astoria Column's parking area

Leaving the car, we hiked up the small hill to the base of the tower that commemorates the major events in Astoria history.

A closeup of the lower portion of the Astoria Column

It took a while to ascend the tower’s steps, but it really wasn’t too difficult (IMO).

Asotria Column circular stairway

The bird’s-eye view afforded by the column’s vantage point was very interesting.

Bird's-eye view from the top of the Astorial Column

There was a young man doing his morning exercises on the grounds and he ran up the tower and handed small, wooden gliders to the visitors so they could be tossed into the wind. He explained that he will later go around to collect them.

Small model gliders flung from the top of the Astoria Column

I enjoyed this view (below) of the tower against the cloudy blue-grey sky.

Partial closeup view of the top of the Astoria Column

I can recommend a visit to the tower if you are in the area. There is a small gift shop and I am sure when the skies are bluer and brighter, the views will be even better.

Moody sky and visitor at the Astoria Column

Here is a short paragraph from the Astoria Column Website Organization’s webpage:

“Standing above the city–600 feet above sea level to be exact–the Astoria Column unleashes an unrivaled view of Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the mighty Columbia River, and in the distance—the Pacific Ocean. Its light shines each night as a silent testament to the pride, fortitude, and resolve of the people who settled the Pacific Northwest, and to those who live here today.”

This was just a small portion of our day exploring Astoria. will soon have more stories about Astoria and other adventures in Oregon.


Read previous posts about our adventures hiking and exploring in Oregon:


Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017 –