Christmas 2016, still Christmas but a different kind of Christmas.

For as long as I can remember the Christmas in the UK ritual has rarely altered, when a child it would be my family, mum, dad and brother, who used to tramp around to all of our relatives, in the snow in those day and walking all the way, no car. Aunties, uncles, grandparents, there were all visited where we were fed and watered and presents were exchanged, then lugged all the way home. Very rarely the family used to come to us so that we could stay at home by the fire, but not very often, but as I grew up we didn’t do the visiting so much, I had my mates to hang around with. So the sitting in front of the TV watching stuff I normally wouldn’t have had time for was a thing of the past and when in my teens presents were not exchanged as such as those presents became gifts of money instead. This enabled me to spend it something I actually wanted not something I had unwrapped, then feigned delight or pleasure at some useless object, which sometimes was a former present given to the person how now passed it on to me.

Then my own family came along, a boy and a girl, but still the visiting continued but not all one way this time. But the ritual more or less stayed the same, visiting, watered, fed, then lug the presents back home, until 2016 that is. My own children were grown up with families of their own and I announced that I had booked 10 days away, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day (a UK peculiarity) so all the present giving, visiting would be done over a couple of days before we went. We arrived in Spain in a monsoon, it had been like it the day before we arrived and was still like the day after we arrived and it wasn’t like Christmas at all. But after the rain the sun, blue skies and sunshine and a Christmas that seemed very low-key by UK standards. So come Christmas day and the sun shone, and it was in the 20 degrees centigrade area, was this real? Just to visualise Christmas for us this year her are some pictures.

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Now for those of you not used to the UK I have to explain that at this time of the year it is usually big coats, woolly hats, scarfs, gloves, and if you are walking about, an umberella is a must. For us, both my wife and I in our late 60’s, this was a revelation. But why wait this long you say, well all sort of reasons, none that I can argue with, our kids, our ageing parents, then our kids kids and it just never happened. Some of you will recognise this resort as being on Spain’s Costa Blanca, Benidorm, a haven for the British, and other nationalities. I have know people come here for 6 weeks at a time, and now I know why, but the Spanish have a different kind of Christmas and it’s not like the Brits at all, in fact I think theirs is around January 6th. Yes we have waited a long time, but it was worth it and no more excuses for not going, our families are grown up with their own families now so our ritual has come to a close. It was strange, no getting away from it, but our 10 days on the Spanish Costa’s went by far too quickly. We have been to Benidorm now in every month of the year and apart from the summer months, where the heat can be oppressive at times, we have experienced wind, rain, sun, but not snow, we have spent days sheltering from the weather and even more days basking in the weather, but this Christmas was both different and special.

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A return to Benidorm, Spain.

Here we go again, some more pictures of Benidorm, maybe these will turn out as intended, not keyholes. But Benidorm is still Benidorm only this time it was better than I expected. You may have read, or seen on the news, a thing called the Euro crisis, so many countries in the Euro zone are heavily in debt that the currency itself is at risk, although bankers and politicians tell you otherwise.

Greece has had some dizzying amount of money lent to it to pay off debts that were due to be paid so how lending them even more helps things I don’t know. So Spain, and Portugal, are close to the same scenario and I wasn’t expecting to see much activity in what is essentially a holiday resort. But what do I see when I get there? Much the same as in years gone by, the Spanish were in the bars, eating, drinking and talking, well that is a bit of an understatement as they debate with great fervour.

Tapas alley was as bustling as ever and bars and shops were being spruced up ready for another summers season of holiday makers. It all made for a great atmosphere and one that I love, even thought I cannot speak Spanish, or any other language, that is not a hindrance as you get a lot of help from the bar staff, shop assistants, to assist in your needs. Well I do know how to say Hola, dos, vino tinto por favour, pathetic I know.

Levante, with long sandy beaches and many bars.

One way of getting around Spain in this type of weather.

Amongst the high-rise apartments and hotels a lovely Spanish villa right on the front of the prom.

A more distant view of the sea front of Benidorm, there are actually 3 beaches, Levante (sunrise), Poniente (sunset) and a small beach in between called Malpas.

This is the Malpas beach, like a private cove and far different to its bigger brothers.

One of the many sand sculptures.

After the hustle and bustle of the day, peace.

Benidorm was built to its present position mainly for the hordes of British holiday makers who wanted some of that Spanish sun but still wanted the comforts of home. Like British food, beer, TV etc so a whole industry was set up to cater for these invaders. And invade we did, millions of us have at some time been to this lovely place, many time and time again, and although the place is occupied predominately by the British it is also a favourite with the Spanish themselves.

There are other nationalities, Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, and just recently Russians, not many from the likes of France or Italy, well they have their own Benidorm’s. It’s a peculiar thing in a way that the British attend clubs and bars, just like back home, and see entertainment, singers, comedians and the likes, whilst the Spanish just sit and chat, or debate. They make their own entertainment, ok a TV may be on in the background, but no one is watching, unless football (soccer) is on.

And not too far away are some lovely areas to explore if that is your thing or you fancy a stroll. At one end of Levante in the Ricon area, is a small mountain range, not too high, but there is a road to walk along in safety as no traffic is allowed. It leads to what’s left of an old fort that was used as a look out for foreign invaders, British or otherwise.

The road leading up to the old fort.

The fort, or what's left of it.

I don’t know what will become of the Euro zone situation but it seems as though the Spanish will still be coming to Benidorm and the tapas bars and will be eating, drinking and debating as they have in years gone by. But that’s the essence of Benidorm, enjoy the holiday and come back again soon.

Here we go …… fingers crossed.

I love Spain, so its no surprise that a lot of pictures I’ve taken are in Spain, and a lot of those on the Costas. These 2 pictures are from the Costa Blanca resort of Benidorm, a great resort visited by millions every year, especially those from the UK. I’m hoping that these pictures are seen as they are meant to be, here’s hoping.