Instead of a two week holiday in May, Eloïse’s school made the unusual decision to schedule a one week May holiday, followed by another week in June. This afforded us one last chance to get away as a foursome before the new baby is born.
Taking advantage of that fact, we flew to Málaga a few days ago, hired a cheap car and spent the night in Mijas, near Fuengirola.
The next day, we drove down to Gibraltar and spent a couple of great days on the rock, visiting St. Michael’s Cave, the Barbary macaques and the siege tunnels. The Upper Rock has been designated a nature reserve and a £10 ticket is now required to gain entrance. When I was last there in 1988, it was all free, informal and much less busy with tourists.
Whilst in Gibraltar, we also set aside enough time to go on a dolphin watching trip. Although we didn’t see huge numbers of these playful creatures, the ones we did see came close to the boat and made Eloïse and Lucas very excited.
Gibraltar has been developed quite a bit in the 23 years since I last visited. The new Ocean Village complex boasts restaurants and estate agents offering exclusive and extremely expensive houses and apartments on the rock. The yachts in the bay — one of which even had a helicopter on deck — hint that Gibraltar has come, amongst other things, a destination for the extremely rich. The sight of a yacht with its own private helicopter really puts things in perspective.
Annoyingly, the enclave appears to be the last remaining pocket of Europe in which smoking in catering establishments is still allowed. Being able to eat and drink in a smoke-free environment is something we take for granted nowadays, and Gibraltar is something of a rude awakening in that regard.
This morning, we drove to one of the East Side beaches to collect shells and then out to Europa Point. Morocco could clearly be seen across the water as we drove around the rock and back into town.
We arrived late in the afternoon, but the power of the sun was still formidable. After a period of brief relaxation in our room, we walked to the city’s main beach, which was so densely packed that one could scarcely see any of its sand. We remained there, amongst the quivering reams of scorched blubber, until the sun started to show signs of weariness, which wasn’t until after 20:00.
The children have easily made the adjustment to Spanish time, which means they now eat after 21:00 and don’t get to bed until around 23:00. Tonight, we had a lovely tapas dinner at a local restaurant, topped off with dessert and café solo.