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As mentioned earlier Catalan Bay was (and still is) my favourite beach in Gibraltar and whenever I think about why that is I suppose it’s partly to do with the mystique of the place. The first time I ever went there I walked the beach and then wandered around the little village with its coloured houses and church but didn’t see a soul. Looking back there was probably a perfect explanation for that (for example it may have been ‘siesta’) – I don’t know – but the whole place was very enigmatic to me. If you ever walk around a place and don’t meet anyone it can be a very surreal experience; in the absence of people or knowledge your mind fill the gaps and make things up. 
(With my daughter Tracey. Catalan Bay 1976)

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Looking up at the water catchment on the Rock behind Catalan village my creative mind would go into overdrive. Had there been a landslide that had sent all the people into the sea but left the buildings empty but intact? Pompeii or what? No, of course not but I guess some places just capture your imagination and Catalan Bay did for me and still does. I don’t think I ever did meet a real live Gibraltarian ‘Catlander’ until 40 years later in 2016.


(A stock photo. Catalan Bay)

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Something that added to the mystique of Catalan Bay (particularly for Tracey) was when we would walk through the tunnel to get there. I don’t remember the name of the tunnel but it was quite a trek and literally went through the Rock from somewhere near Rosia (?) or the cable car to Sandy Bay. I must try to find it again when I return. For Tracey, as a little 3 year old, it was almost like something out of the ‘Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe’ walking through a very, very long tunnel to come out to a ‘Palace’ at the other end – Caleta Palace of course, now more mundanely named Caleta Hotel.


(My photo taken from the cafe at the top of the Rock. Catalan Bay. May 2016)

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Catalan Bay has naturally been developed since 1976 and today has several more eating places than in those early days – very good eating places I have to add. But regardless of progress there is still (very much) a captivating air about this little place that gets my whole hearted approval. For those brave enough (or daft enough like me) to take a dip – the water is a bit choppy to say the least. Once a year (I can’t remember if it’s Christmas Day or New Years Day) a load of locals charge into the water for a little self flagellation although I’m not sure why; but then why not? For those with good knees there’s a set of steps that go up from the beach between a few of the little houses to the top road where Caleta Hotel sits. I did go up the steps to check out the view but my endearing memories are of spending times there having picnics with my young family.

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READER UPDATE FROM NIKKY DANINO (Many thanks): Dudley Ward tunnel takes you from La Caleta to Europa Point. I don’t think they allow pedestrians nowadays.

(Photos I took at Catalan Bay May 2016)