June 21 – Leaving Gibraltar

I’m changing format a bit, now that the crossing is complete.  Gone are the daily stats of miles, fuel burn, sea state, etc.  when it seems appropriate, I’ll talk about that stuff.

We’re off to begin the next phase of the adventure.  For Bob and Kim (she’s joining us tomorrow), it’s all about living aboard for parts of the next three years.  For Shar and me, it’s a much shorter period.  We’ll be headquartered on the boat until July first, then hit the hard for 18 days before returning to the Pacific Northwest.  I will document our days until we head home from Porto, Portugal.

We didn’t do a very good job of exploring Gibraltar.  Between chores and sleep and the weather, we didn’t do justice to the history or the geology of the place…and we got a bit too much of the duty-free shopping corridor.  But recovery was important and we managed to do a good job of that.

From the water, Gibraltar looks old and worn.  It’s got the fortress thing going on, of course, but the modern buildings don’t seem recent.  On shore, there’s a different impression.  New construction is evident and impressive, and Bernie reports that it looks vastly different than 10 years ago.  I think much of the newer construction is just not very modern or exciting.  Apartment/condo high-rises that are less than 10 years old, have a style that looks 25+ years old.  And there are lots of those.

The population seems to be split between older Brits and young folk from everywhere, though my assessment capabilities have to be held in low regard.  We talked to young wait-staff, mostly, hearing stories of ‘where from’ and ‘why there’.  The weather plays a big role, and it’s easy to see why.  It’s a bit hot for me, but I’m way out the bell curve on my preference for cool and cold.  The party crowd on the waterfront was vigorous, but not out of control.  On the flip side, there seemed to be lots of pale, older couples shuffling around (sorry folks, there’s just not much bounce in your step) with the cruise ship look in their eyes that we have seen so many places from Dubrovnik to Ketchikan.  It’s hard to tell which individuals are off the cruise boat and which are residents experiencing the early stages of detachment.  We’ve got no talk-talk stories, there, to help sort it all out.

We got off the dock at 0730, bound for the fuel dock (open at 0800), with hopes of beating any early crowd.  It kinda worked, but Angela and a large sailboat beat us.  We filled up with cheap fuel, said our goodbyes to all and were on our way just prior to 1000.

The dramatic side of Gibraltar is opposite the city, facing east and the morning sun.  There are two peaks, with a rugged ridge between.  The whole area is pot-marked with holes and caves of various sizes, of which there are thought to be over 200.  The caves have been used as shelter during sieges and attacks on the islands for hundreds of years. They have also been used to store water and ammunition on a routine basis.  Historically, Neanderthals lived in a number of the caves.  The holes appear to be man-made military gun emplacements.  But what’s with the structures?  It’s a mystery to me.

The large cave on the water is called Gorham’s Cave, which is one of the Neanderthal habitats.

There are two huge guns on top of the southern most peak.  I’ll bet those suckers pack a punch!

Arrival in Spain, destination Benalmadena 

Just south of Malaga is Marina Benalmadena, our spot for 4 days.  It’s along the Costa del Sol, Spain’s busy beach resort area.  Our med-mouring, the first without a gaggle of geese from the fleet to assist, went smoothly enough.  We are situated in the outer portion of the harbor, where it looks pretty normal: breakwater, fuel island, rows of boats, palm trees and park benches on shore.

Shar and I decided on dinner out, while Bob’s focus was “absolutely nothing.”  So, off we went, unsuspecting as we were…into bizarro-land.  Kinda like Disneyland, only different.  A picture will do:

This is the inner harbor.  There are four of these condo (?) pods in a row, with gated car access from two points, one on each far side of the cluster.  It’s backed by a crescent of buildings that house restaurants and shops of all (tourist) sorts.  It stretches for, maybe, half a mile.  There is an opening between the two center pods for boats to come and go, to/from the outer harbor, which is the ‘normal’ one I described.  Our restaurant was on the far side, so we got to experience the full effect of the crowds: hawkers, mesmerized kid stoppage and selfie snappers, included.

In any case, we had a very nice dinner on the second level, overlooking the whole scene.

Tomorrow, the two of us are off to Granada for two days, while Bob and Kim catch up together on the boat.

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