The first experience of Benidorm was one of amazement, yes we had heard the stories of how it is Blackpool with the sun, or worse. But in fact as we came more often, and had a chance to explore Benidorm, and the immediate area, we found that as there was indeed an area that was like Britain, full of people who liked their British food, beer and entertainment, there was also the Spanish influence not so far away.
Our first stay was at the Prince Park Hotel and as the name suggests it was situated in a beautiful park area of Benidorm, Parque de l’Aiguera, which also happened to be nearer the Spanish influenced ‘Old Town’ rather than the British influenced ‘New Town’. So we toured the shops and tapas bars and I was smitten, smitten by the way the Spanish just sat and talked, often in groups but sometimes just two people chatting away merrily.
They didn’t need artists on stage, they were their own artists, discussions were often animated but of course I hadn’t a clue as to what was being said, like most Brits I didn’t know the language. From that moment on it was the preferred end of town for us, we did visit the clubs and bars of the ‘New Town’ but we always headed back to the ‘Old Town’ before returning to our hotel.
Over the years we explored more, helped by the well known ‘Blanket Trips’ which were coach trips organised and paid for by companies trying to sell their products, notably to those of advancing years to help with the many ailments they have. So comfortable bed mattresses, pillows, blankets (hence the term blanket trip) and other associated items. There was a sales spiel, lasting an hour or more and many people did swear by the effectiveness of the products but you were under no obligation to buy.
You got a drink, bucks fizz or a cup of tea if you so wished, then after the presentation you were taken off to some Spanish town or village. We saw some wonderful places for free and the more we saw the more we liked. Eventually we did our own trips, getting the train to places like Calpe and Denia, then the local bus to Alfaz, Albir, and Altea, all along the coast. Sometimes we would be away most of the day, having a meal and a drink at one of the many Spanish bars.
The lurid tales of Benidorm as the end of the earth were, as we found, just that, tales. Yes there has been some trouble, there always seems to be with alcohol, but not the wholesale carnage that is sometimes portrayed by the press. And I don’t believe it is just the Brits the Spanish police have trouble with, they seem to have their own troublesome youngsters and not so young.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times we have been now but it’s always good to go back, in fact its like going home, and if you are lucky enough to be there during a fiesta then you are in for a treat as the Spanish do this with aplomb. The big one we saw was in the November and what a spectacle that turned out to be, even though we were woken up at 8am to the sound of drums and trumpets passing by in the narrow streets of hour hotel. The climax to this glorious even was a giant firework display on the Levante beach, a video of mine which is on YouTube that is in one of the boxes at the side of this blog shows the display.
We hope to be back in Benidorm at some point, despite what people say about the tower blocks and the disorder, the truth of the matter is, Benidorm is a beautiful location to do whatever you want to do. Fantastic clean beaches, hotels to suit most budgets, bars, restaurants to suit most pockets, many nationalities enjoying the usually lovely weather most of the year, and if you wish, jump on a bus and travel further.
This is not an advert for Benidorm, it sells itself by the many millions who go every year, some year after year. It’s just a pity that so many believe the ‘tales’ instead of going to see for themselves, it seems that watching a TV comedy named Benidorm is all they need to convince them that it is not the place for them, their loss I’m afraid.