Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In Defence Of Benidorm

I spent last weekend in Benidorm, a place that at one time I thought I was never very likely to visit. I had an image of the town as being the archetypal place for the cheap package holiday, largely based on a British documentary that I remember from quite a few years ago. This programme tracked a package tour group during their trip to the town, and the resulting portrayal was both funny and horrific at the same time. I still have this memory of one member of the group, who wore a huge straw hat and carried an enormous ventriloquists dummy duck (I suppose it could have been an ostrich) with him at all times! It showed the rituals of the package holiday in all its glory with bogus flamenco shows and rivers of cheap sangria.

Well now I have been, more than once, and I have to say I quite like the place. Much more residential than I imagined, and with a stronger Spanish flavour than the image presented, it's not an unpleasant place to go. The weather can be good at most times of year and the place has life all year round, unlike some other places that seem semi deserted outside of the main season. Admittedly, the average age in November or December probably gets close to 90 as it is such a favourite for retired people escaping the cold northern winter; but that doesn’t matter.

Part of what I like about it is the mixing of the cultures, not because I need to have a full roast dinner with all the trimmings in the middle of July; but it does make the place very easy to adapt to if you’re a Brit based in Spain like I am. You can go for an excellent Spanish lunch and then settle down in an English style pub by the beach to watch some Premier League football in the afternoon – now that’s what I call multicultural. In addition the surrounding area has some excellent walking routes, best done outside of the hottest months. Unfortunately, to get there directly from Madrid without a car means taking the bus, and the bus drivers of ALSA for the journey there and back are runaway winners of this month's China Railways Customer Service Prize for degrading and humiliating treatment of passengers. Sunday's driver was spectacularly nasty. Fortunately the train service to Alicante is fast and comfortable, and that’s how I'm going next time; because I’m going back.



6 comments:

Ian Curtis said...

Ahora que hablas de la Premier, te has enterado?:
Televisión Española va a emitir 2 partidos de la Premier por jornada la próxima temporada, uno el sábado (en La 2) y otro el domingo (en Teledeporte, en TDT).

Una buena noticia para los que amamos el fútbol inglés :)

Graeme said...

No, I didn't know - but its good news. Sadly, I will be focusing more on the division below the Premier League next season, following the decision of my favourites to change their category by not winning games. If I remember rightly you are an Atleti supporter, so you will understand my position.

Ian Curtis said...

Buff, qué me vas a contar a mí que no sepa... jajaja

Tom said...

I have had a similar experience with Benicassim, which while not quite as notorious as Benidorm, is probably fairly similar. Giles Tremlett writes in Ghosts of Spain that Benidorm is actually one of the best implementations of resort construction on the Spanish coast.

madrid teacher said...

There is a great mountaining biking trip you can take up to the old zoo on one of the mountains outside Benidorm,it takes in a lot of the old villages where you can eat Valencian food, but return to Benidorm later for good old fish and chips and El daily mirror

spanishben said...

I wish I could say the same about Gibraltar... just got back... never ever again... will write about it later...