Well! We almost met some YouTube superstars and Magnus wore the pavement thin in front of their boat as he walked past at increasingly frequent intervals in case they were on deck to say hello to. Unfortunately not..
And as far as rocks go, Gibraltar is a good one to be on, and the rocks north west of Malaga are not too shabby either.
Some new experiences included:
- Seeing a boat that we follow on Youtube in REAL LIFE! We saw Polar Seal, but unfortunately not its Captain or crew. (Although Magnus thinks he spotted the first mate huddled incognito under a cap at a bar, hoovering up the wifi, no doubt uploading Youtube videos that we will soon watch)
- Cycling across an international runway, while migrating briefly to another country for dinner!! Gibraltar International Airport’s runway is built out into the sea, and to enter or leave the British Territory from Spain, you have to cross the runway as boom gates permit, just as we usually cross a train track. As you do.
- Doing two incredible rocky walks – El Caminito del Rey, and scaling the Rock of Gibraltar! (serendipitously, we were on Gibraltar on the day I turned 51)
- Steering Almazul by hand for more than 24 hours.
- Meeting another friendly Aussie who is attempting to document some fun travels.
- Walking El Caminito del Rey. I have been looking longingly at this walk since 2013, in a book called “1000 walks to do before you die” and so at 51, am glad to have another one ticked off! It is a one meter wide walkway along a narrow gorge near Malaga in Spain, and was known as the world’s most dangerous walk until its repair and reopening in 2015. (disrepair claimed 5 lives in about 2000) Its purpose was to service local hydroelectric plants, and it once bore the footsteps of King Alfonso XIII hence its name;”The King’s little path”
- Seeing, breathing in, and climbing the Rock of Gibraltar. I remain incredibly impressed by this iconic monolith…. especially for an Aussie who has not seen seen Uluru…and have taken far too many photos. As we approached from the east by sea I was like a kid at Christmas time, and still feel like that as I look at it from the boat hatch each morning.
- Visiting the ancient precinct of the Alhambra near Granada. Remarkably well preserved monuments from another time abound – some shrouded in that peculiar damp smell that shaded ferns and ancient stone exude. The hardy olive trees nearby growing under the harsh sun only exaggerate the softness of the ancient city I think… that’s Spain I guess. As an aside, I was especially taken with fine herringbone patterned footpaths, made from carefully sourced pebbles, placed meticulously side by side 1210 years ago.
- Autopilot intermittent and then complete failure, near the beginning of a 24 hour hop from Almerimar to Gibraltar. Good practice for manual night steering though.
- Straining repeatedly unsuccessfully to join a bubbling conversation with my family in Oz. Internet is a blessing – but sometimes raises our expectations unrealistically. 😮
- The monkeys on Gibraltar! We were delighted, curious and wary, but then I almost stepped on one, oops! When I noticed (oh pardon me!) and moved politely away, he followed me! I know, don’t run.. Easy to say. You try it! They were all over the place, and not shy. The Barbary macaque population in Gibraltar is the only wild monkey population in Europe – and we were very happy they were out in full force when we visited. 🙂
- Seeing very British sights very far from the UK. English bobbies, red post boxes, Marks and Spencer, cobbled streets and very English pubs ad infinitum…. but the traffic is still driving on the RHS. Easy to be mowed down by a speeding scooter while wafting along in a daze of familiarity. 🙄
Food and Bevvy highlights:
- Absolutely smashing fish and chips at The Stumble Inn at Almerimar. The fish was honestly the size of my shoe, and well encased in light crunchy batter. The fun conversation with a remarkably beautiful and interesting 68 year old Norwegian woman whose son lives in Sydney no doubt added to the flavour.
- An enormous golden Cornish pastie and Cornish pudding eaten on a birthday morning in the centre of Gibraltar town before tackling The Rock – just the sustenance required! The Cornish pudding was completely new to me – a kind of moist apple blueberry rhubarb baked flattish slice/bread and butter pudding thing, with some white chocolate thrown in for good measure? Pleasing to the eye and the palette, but otherwise a mystery.
- A crisp thirst quenching birthday Prosecco after a VERY big climb and quite a stressful day dodging monkeys! I was expecting Cava, a Spanish variety of sparkling white wine (now I know about it!) – but no, of course we had an Italian variety in a British Territory south of Spain. Duh!
- Autopilot, autopilot, autopilot! Taken apart – of course everything appears in working order, despite the fact that clearly IS NOT. TBC no doubt.
- Activated our Garmin in reach satellite communication tool, and established contact with Magnus’s friend and expert weather advisor; Anna.