I must admit visiting Benidorm has never been on my agenda. In fact, as a family we have done everything to avoid such busy places.
On our regular visits to Moraira, we used to gasp at the tower blocks as we drove from the airport towards the Northern Costa Blanca in disbelief that people would want a holiday surrounded by enormous sky scrapers.
As a Travel Agent many years ago, pensioners would be queuing at the door as the winter brochures went on sale for the 18 week holidays for a miserly few hundred pounds half board. Often within a day these types of holidays were booked up within 24 hours.
Over the years the TV programme ‘Benidorm’ became a huge hit and although I enjoyed the programme, it didn’t do anything to influence my view that Benidorm was a place for stag do’s and pensioners seeking a cheap life on a budget with nonstop entertainment. I’m no longer 18 and I’m not yet ready for my pension so it doesn’t tick any of my boxes.
Having moved to Spain and with my daughters love for the TV programme (it’s become seriously poor over the last few years but she still loves it) we promised her a visit.
Mother’s Day arrived and we have always tried to spend time as a family somewhere. In the UK, it was either Anglesey, Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, the Cotswolds or the Lakes but with Bener’s being 1 hour away we thought sod it, in for a penny in for a pound. My daughter was excited – I wasn’t.
I remember the old dears in Thomas Cook telling me the old town was nice so we headed towards Poniente beach and parked up.
On first impression, I was somewhat surprised. The beach and the views were lovely. Yes, I could see a few sky scrapers but they seemed less imposing than they did on the motorway driving towards Javea.
We walked along the beach 20 minutes towards the old town. We arrived at the marina and the shops and both wife and myself looked at one another accepting that we’ve clearly been a pair of portentous snobs over the years.
My daughter was in her element and I must admit I was too. Walking past the busy side streets full of tapas bars I just didn’t expect to Benidorm to be like this.
We headed towards Levante beach and the bars became livelier. Suddenly things changed quite dramatically. Blokes, red from the sun and often bigger breasts than the women on hen do’s and the music pumping from the bars – this was Blackpool in the eighties – we did a quick U turn.
Levante is not for us. Perhaps twenty years ago, but not now. We headed back to the old town and had a lovely menu del dia – starter, 2 mains, a desert and a drink for 11 euros and it was well worth the money.
We headed up to the church and the old pedestrian area and even though Levante wasn’t for us, overall Benidorm is. I was really surprised how lovely the place is. The beaches are stunning and there’s an atmosphere where people have realised that life is too bloody short to be serious so just let go and enjoy yourself.
I would caveat that we did go in March and I think even the old town would be too much for us in the peak season but no longer will I be sticking my nose up at anyone suggesting a trip to Benidorm. The idea that anyone who visits this place lives off egg and chips, Roast dinners Monday to Sunday, has a blue rinse and drives a promenade scooter is more than a bit harsh and from now on I am proud advocate our famous Spanish tourist resort Benidorm.
We will be back and dare I say it, it may be the place for us once we join the 24/7 cardigan brigade.