Five years had gone by since we last visited Gibraltar, somewhere extremely close to my whole family’s heart, and on our relaxing trip back last month, we realised how much it has changed in that time. Modern complexes, plush hotels and fancy restaurants have been built up, turning what was once a quiet and unheard of place into a tourist haven. But despite the changes, as soon as we stepped off the plane I felt like I had come home.
After asking the friendly airport security for a stamp in our passports (because passport stamps are extremely important to us travellers!), we walked across the airport runway – one of the only runways in the world that cars and pedestrians can cross. We made our way to our hotel knowing exactly which direction to take like we’d never even left. I recognised the flats where our family used to live, Casemates Square where we went for drinks at night, and the restaurants we used to eat at on the marina.
As we walked along the water towards our hotel, I remembered wandering along here 8 years ago, hand in hand with my new husband.
This is still one of my favourite parts of Gibraltar today for its lively cocktail bars, great restaurants and the close up view of the planes taking off and landing on the runway nearby. The stunning sunsets over the water are also a reason why I love this spot so much.
Last time we were here we spotted the colourful sunset just as we were heading out for dinner but this time the blogger in me had to get up in the middle of dinner and run along to the end of the jetty. I could not miss capturing a shot of the gorgeous orange sky!
I could easily have sat on the edge of the marina watching the sky changing colours all night, but our favourite restaurant, Bianca’s, was waiting for us as always. I remember sitting outside in the sunshine when I was little, eating cheesy chips with my nan and grandad, my mum trying to convince me to try calamari under the pretence that they were onion rings. Thanks mum, this is probably why I have a huge dislike for seafood!
Aside from the calamari incident, we love this restaurant so much that Mr Ayla and I even had a feast of pizza here for our wedding breakfast due to Mr Ayla being a slight pizza fanatic. I say slight, but he really could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day if I let him. So our stomachs were extremely happy that they still do the tastiest pizzas in Gibraltar!
Even though we were staying in a newer hotel closer to the centre of town this time, we still visited the Caleta, a lovely secluded hotel right on the Rock edge, overlooking the sea and Morocco in the distance. It’s the place we normally stay when we visit Gibraltar and it’s where Mr Ayla and I got married.
The hotel is undergoing some major refurbishments and the pretty little garden where we said our vows won’t be there for much longer so it was lovely to see it one last time. We’ve already agreed that a return trip to the new plush hotel, perhaps to celebrate an anniversary, will be on the cards once it’s all completed!
Right next to the hotel is Catalan Bay so we wandered down and spent the rest of the day sunning ourselves on the beach. The sand was so scorching hot that I’ve never seen my nan run so fast to get across the sand!
For years we have been sitting in the same spot, where I would play in the sand with my sister and cousins, swim in the sea with my grandad and sunbathe with my mum.
Because we’re super snap-happy (and also maybe a little bit cheesy), we attempted recreating our wedding photo on the beach but this time in our swimwear!
After a few hours of relaxation and burning our feet on the sand some more, we went off exploring the centre of town, wandering along Main Street, stopping at pubs we’d been frequenting for years, and visiting the new pretty park. We didn’t spot any Barbary Apes on this visit though but we’ve had plenty enough encounters with the cheeky monkeys before!
The cannons dotted around Gibraltar always seemed to be an attraction when I was smaller and I used to clamber up on top of them with all the other youngsters in my family. This time we decided we were perhaps a little too old to climb up on top so we just stood by them like the grown ups we
are meant to be are.
I have always had such wonderful holidays with my family in Gibraltar and return trips always bring back the best memories. Building sand castles with my cousins, jumping over waves with my sister, trying sangria for the first time, and becoming the mini adventurer that I am today.
You can read more about our time in Gibraltar here including lots of relaxation and celebrations!
Do you have somewhere that fills you with good memories? Let me know where you like to reminisce in the comments below or at: