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A little bit of Britain – the surreal Gibraltar – John Alwyn-Jones on board Sea Dream I

July 16, 2014 Global Travel Media TV, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59While sailing into Gibraltar on Sea Dream I was another stunning “sea-dreaming experience”, although a rather grey day, with Gibraltar perched on the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, as we sailed through the Pillars of Hercules that separate Europe from Africa, I was reminded of I think the last time I was in Gibraltar, in 1979 on our honeymoon!

More about that in the video below, but with Sea Dream I dwarfed by the massive Rock of Gibraltar I found Gibraltar a tad surreal, a rather sad and jaded time warp, with its red pillar boxes, British pubs, British beer, fish and chip shops, policemen wearing British police helmets and much more that signified that Gibraltarians see themselves as absolutely and unquestionably British!

Gibraltar has been described a microcosm of ”Britishness”, as if a British town, probably a port had been disconnected from Britain and towed south, with its time warp architecture and barbary apes, in such contrast to Spain, with Gibraltar also having been British longer than the United States has been American.

If you were wondering why the rock of Gibraltar is so important, the reason is that it controls the exit from and the entrance to the Mediterranean, with 4,000 years ago ancient mariners not passing the rock for fear of the currents, the Phoenicians sailing past it and using it as an important landmark marking the entrance to the Atlantic, the Greeks giving it the name Calpe which means urn, possibly because of its shape, with the present name Gibraltar coming from the Arabs who invaded Spain in the 8thcentury, with Tarik the leader of the invading army, hence Gibel Tarik, which became Gibraltar.

The city of Gibraltar was founded in 1160 by the Sultan of Morocco, Abd-al-Mummin who built a castle and citadel, with the present line of Main Street almost the same today as it was 600 years ago when it was built, with the Castillians capturing Gibraltar in the 1300’s, when Gibraltar became a substantial city, followed by the British with Gibraltar becoming a British garrison a colony in 1830.

Spain never really accepted the loss of Gibraltar and tried to recapture Gibraltar twice in the 18th century without success, including the Great Siege that lasted four years, with Gibraltar held on to by the British ever since, vitally important in both first and second world wars and also the cold war as most Russian naval ships and submarines had to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar.

It was great to be back in the arms of the luxury of Sea Dream I and as we sailed out of Gibraltar, I could not but wonder how long the Brits would fend off the Spanish – if it was up to the Gibraltarians, I suspect for ever!

Check out Gibraltar by clicking on the video box below and remember to join me over the coming days on my Mediterranean and Atlantic Sea Dream itinerary including Portimao in Portugal, Funchal in Madeira, Gomera in the Canaries and Tenerife, also in the Canaries, by watching out for other on location articles and videos this week and next from Sea Dream I in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.

John Alwyn-Jones reporting on location on board Sea Dream I with Sea Dream Yacht Club.

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