A stroll around Gibraltar No 9: A trip on the cable car 

Hello there, I’ve not taken you out for a stroll for a few weeks, so I thought it was high time we went for another explore around the place I call home. A few weeks back, my parents came over for a visit and we took the opportunity to do a few of the touristy things in Gibraltar which we haven’t done for a while. 

When we first arrived in Gibraltar, we used to frequently take a trip up in the cable car to the top of the Rock and take a leisurely walk down the roads on a Sunday afternoon. When we were suffering from homesickness it felt almost like we were in the English countryside on a summer’s day (well if you don’t look too closely at the olive trees and other Mediterranean vegetation!). 

We hadn’t done that for a while so one weekend day during their visit, the whole Postcard family accompanied by the Grandparents bought our tickets for the cable car and went for a ride.

I took this photo of a poster at the cable car base station. Not the best map I’m afraid and there’s a nice bit of product placement on the modes of transport but it gives those of you unfamiliar with Gibraltar a clearer idea of where we went. 

To the right of the centre of the picture is the label Alameda Gardens that was the subject of my Stroll around Gibraltar No 7 and is right next to the cable car base station. Follow the line (or cables) from there up to the Upper Rock and that’s the destination for the cable car.

The photo above shows the main entrance to the Alameda Gardens as the cable car begins its ascent up to the top of the Rock. I’m afraid I didn’t get the chance to take too many pictures as it was rather busy and we were packed in a bit!

It also just takes about six minutes to rise from the base station to the summit, during that time it’s very easy to get transfixed by the view, trying to spot out familiar sights, schools, houses and parks which we visit regularly.

It was such a lovely day and we had a slightly hazy view of Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar ahead.

And then we arrived!

Of course there’s no show without punch, and naturally the moment you step off the cable car, the apes are waiting to pounce and one did. A tourist on our trip up carrying a plastic bag full of food got off behind us. An ape used our eldest’s head as a springboard to grab the bag. It was all over in seconds and so quick I didn’t even see it despite being about a metre away! 

There are many signs warning you not to take food up to the top, and to keep your bags closed and not to feed the apes etc etc, but of course there are always a few people who don’t bother taking notice and then get a fright when their sandwiches or sweets get pinched!

It’s well worth taking your chances with the apes though, because check out the view! This is looking north, to the left of the Rock you can see the Gibraltar airport runway and beyond that is La Linea de la Concepción the nearest Spainish town to us.

I can’t make my mind up whether Gibraltar looks smaller or bigger than it feels from up here, a bit smaller I suppose because it’s all so tightly packed. Down below us here in this picture is the town centre with M&S, British Home Stores and all the delights Main Street has to offer. Also Commonwealth Park, Morrisons supermarket, St Bernard’s Hospital, several schools and housing for thousands, not to mention the cruise ship terminal, a new marina for dozens  of small boats and offices for countless businesses.

Beyond Gibraltar in this picture shows Campamento (which lies beyond La Linea) and the delightful oil refinery at the head of the Bay of Gibraltar.

The apes are clearly unimpressed with the view – they get to see it every day after all. A bit of mutual grooming and flea picking is far more preferable!

Down on the eastern and less densely populated side of the Rock you can find Catalan Bay (home to a fishing village and the Caleta Hotel) in the picture  above, and Sandy Bay, home to a retirement village and a few holiday homes, in the one  below.

After taking in the views and admiring our home from above, we decided to begin the leisurely walk down the hill  and homeward bound. In order to get down though, you have to walk through one of the official ape feeding stations where they get their fruit and veg 5-a-day from the conservation workers who look after them and keep them healthy.

For obvious reasons this is a big hot spot for tourists and we had to negotiate quite a few taxis and tourists stopping to take photos, so I thought it would be rude not to pap a few of the performers myself.

It’s so much easier walking downwards than climbing up!

We were really lucky to have a lovely warm day for our ramble down the Rock, almost like a British summer’s day. This really is my favourite time of year in Gibraltar, not too hot and not too wet!

Despite there being a fair few other visitors to the Upper Rock that day, it didn’t take us long to have the meandering roads down to town to ourselves, it was so peaceful.

This little chap was making the most of the sunny weather and was doing a bit of sunbathing on a rock as we passed. I have seen quite a few lizards (or geckos – I’m not entirely sure what their correct title is) so far this spring, it’s so nice to see them out and about, scuttling away into the undergrowth or into cracks as soon as they sense they are no longer alone!

There was a fair bit of flora on show as well as fauna, these strongly perfumed wild freesias were in abundance and have been for weeks now, although they are less common in the last week or so, there were also some beautifully scented lavenders in flower too.

  

And finally, do you remember this picture from my Stroll around Gibraltar No 6: from sea to summit (in the rain!)…  

 

…well, it was a much clearer day when we took our trip up the cable car – just look at the view now!!

Thank you so much for joining us on this stroll down the Rock, do pop back again soon!

Gibraltar Garrison Library

The Gibraltar Garrison Library is an impressive colonial building in the centre of town opposite the Elliott Hotel. It’s a building I pass almost daily during the week and one I have been meaning to pay a visit to for years but just hadn’t got round to it. The Gibraltar Literary Festival begins tomorrow and the place to get tickets is here (if you don’t take the online option), so a couple of weeks back when I ventured in to make my ticket purchases it reminded me of my intention to visit it properly. So while my parents were over, before the midterm holiday, a tour around the Garrison Library was a lovely way to spend a morning.

  
The tour began in the ‘Gibraltar Room’ (above) which, as the name suggests, holds all the books pertaining to Gibraltar.

The Garrison Library is a beautiful building (as the photos illustrate) and steeped in history. It was founded in 1793 by Colonel Drinkwater after the Great Siege of Gibraltar. During  the siege it became obvious to him that there was a dearth of decent reading material. So in an attempt to keep officers attentions away from the unseemly pursuits of women and drink, the library was established.

  
Reading rooms were initially set up at a different location and work began on the construction of the current building in 1800. The materials used were locally sourced, exceptionally strong cork oak flooring was used which looks as good today as when it was laid and the fireplaces were designed to burn coke which could be found in the Campo area across the border in Spain.

Some books were purchased when the library first opened but most of the collection of up to 50,000 volumes and artifacts were gifted to the library by officers from their own private collections as they headed home or onto their next posting. A considerable section though, was ‘acquired’ by the navy when they seized ships and passed on any books found onboard. For this reason there is a sizable Napoleonic Collection (all in French) taken from French ships.

These photos show the edition of the Gibraltar Chronicle (our local newspaper) reporting on  the Battle of Trafalgar and, as you can see (on the right hand side of the photos) shows the article in both English and French as the editor of the Chronicle was a Frenchman.

This impressive staircase leads upstairs to the upper reading room, which is now used for public events like Government press conferences and lectures by visiting academics. The portrait in this room is of Colonel Drinkwater the founder of the library.

Among the many volumes on its shelves are first editions of novels, major works of science and religion of the time and even Ghengis Khan’s Autobiography! There is every edition of the Gibraltar Chronicle since 1800 to the present day. Some of the books, due to their age, are in a pretty fragile condition. The library relies on a team of volunteers to support the staff in the care and recording of the books.

Also on the top floor of the building is a ballroom (a strange room to find in a library don’t you think?). The rules governing the library meant that only men were allowed in, so in order to get around this, and allow ladies to join the officers when they held balls and parties in the ballroom, they built a special stair and rear balcony so that the female guests could join, them avoiding the main entrance and staircase.

I’m not sure how easy it would have been to negotiate that metal spiral staircase in a big ballgown and dainty shoes, it was clearly designed by a man!

A telescope sits before a window at the front of the ballroom so that officers could keep an eye out at sea and make sure no funny business was going on in the bay while they were enjoying their R&R. It’s hard to imagine there used to be a sea view from the window as today the development of the town and harbour area (not to mention the trees) rather obscure any view of the sea from here today.


The flooring up here in the ballroom is particularly beautiful, especially in the window recesses and door thresholds.

   
 
To the rear of the library lies a tranquil garden.

   

It would be a lovely peaceful place to just come and sit. Unfortunately for us it was a little damp on the day we visited so it wasn’t quite the weather for such lazing about, but hopefully I’ll get the chance to take advantage of the garden at some point in the future.

  

If you ever find yourself in these parts I would highly recommend a visit to the Garrison Library, the guided tours are free and begin at 11am each Friday.