Approaching and Visiting Gibraltar

Two evenings ago we had some excitement around our dinner table. Our assistant waiter, Gustavo, told us that he would have to leave at 9:30 because he was going to propose to his girlfriend that evening in the Crown Grill.

. Gustavo is from Mexico City while his girlfriend Lydia, now his fiancée`, is from Bulgaria. Lydia is a masseuse at the spa on board the Ruby Princess and this is the third contract they are working together. The following evening Gustavo showed a brief film of his proposal and I must say he did it right. He had a young lady come to the table with a bouquet of red roses, and then presented Lydia with a desert plate on which “Would you marry me?” was written with chocolate and a heart made of cut strawberries completed the picture. Of course the answer was positive and then Gustavo gave her the ring. He is really a nice guy and deserves good luck.

Gibraltar has had and continues to have extreme strategic importance since it dominates the entrance to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic. The problem with visiting Gibraltar for the third time is that we have been here twice before. A few years have passed since our last visit, I would guess six in fact. I remembered it as an elegant, out of the way place with a charm derived from a mix of British propriety and Spanish Mediterranean warmth. In our previous visits we had toured all the tourist attractions, so this time we only walked around the town. Unfortunately the growth in importance as a cruise ship destination has not served Gibraltar well. Instead of elegant shops with friendly owners, we found an array of shops offering overpriced jewelry or cheap T-shirts and assorted souvenirs. In my opinion Gibraltar is now a destination to see once just to add to your list of places you have been to. It no longer is the welcoming embrace of firm land after the long Atlantic voyage.

But if you have never been there you can visit the British fortification with their interminable assorted tunnels, a great example of engineering feat, ride the cable car to the Top of the Rock, admire Northern Africa from Land's End, and of course make your acquaintance with the native monkeys. As for the latter keep a safe distance and do not be snacking when close. They are quite aggressive when it comes to food. During our past visits we got a fabulous selection and great prices on Lladro pieces: not anymore I am afraid.

I did see something new on the Spanish hills just north of Gibraltar. Wind mills generating electric current. I counted 11 of them, but there could have been more. Another reason I love cruising: the opportunity to see progress in different settings.