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The Attraction of Benidorm - Why People Return Again and Again
What is the attraction of Benidorm that makes people return again and again? I mean to look at the place it’s the last imaginable possible place for a relaxing Spanish holiday. Dreams of lying on the beach all day under a hot Mediterranean sun, surrounded by pretty taco houses are just not Benidorm.
Benidorm, to those that don’t know, is a high-rise nightmare. It’s like a mini New York. Your first glance of Benidorm as the bus arrives via the motorway (the A7) is of a blot on the landscape, with towering high-rises closely packed together. The shimmering blue Mediterranean Sea is only just visible in patches through the maze of tower blocks.
Yet, when you disembark from the bus, and take a walk down to the shore-line, there are miles of beautifully clean golden sands. The promenade is lined with palm trees and mile after mile of small businesses – bars, clubs, tourist shops, ice-cream sellers, all hoping to tempt you to stop for a relaxing drink or a pause on their vast outdoor terraces, with views to die for.
Benidorm, when your head clears of the nasty thoughts of your first impressions, is actually beautiful and very well maintained. The tropical gardens all around you flourish within the micro-climate that made Benidorm famous. Everyone, it seems, in every apartment block, and every business, has gone out of their way to make sure Benidorm from ground level is not only attractive to look at, but clean. The place is spotless.
Don’t blame the Spanish for the littering on the streets or in the sea; blame the holidaymakers who don’t give a damn for anyone else and fail to use the proliferation of public litter bins so thoughtfully provided.
Every night, a team of contractors comb the beach of today’s rubbish, left behind by the picnickers, or sun-worshippers – empty cigarette packets, cigarette butts, sweetie-wrappings, cellophane, fast food packaging.
And still on the turn of the tide you see the sea filled with everyday discardings.
When the streets empty of holidaymakers at night time, they fill with council contractors who sweep the streets and even water the trees that line them. Actually, come to think of it, they were probably spraying them with insecticide, but it looked like they were getting watered.
Benidorm has atmosphere!
It is impossible to describe what makes Benidorm so attractive to the visitor. It’s not just Mundomar, or Aqualandia (the water park) or Terra Mitica, although these tourist attractions are actually highly attractive in their own way.
When you walk down a Benidorm street, day or night, there is an excitement in the air. There is an expectation – of what exactly I don’t know, but it is a nice feeling, and that is probably what brings visitors back to Benidorm year after year.
Step into any sidewalk cafe and you will be greeted with a friendly smile and a welcome.
Bump into a drunk (normally English and swilling a beer belly) and he’ll more than likely smile and offer to buy you a drink in whatever hostelry is next to you. You don’t feel frightened in Benidorm. Good humour is high in everyone you meet, and it is rare to hear an angry word.
Stop off at a sidewalk cafe for a quick beer and your chances of returning to your apartment or hotel diminish significantly. Even if you didn’t know anyone in the bar when you entered, by the time you leave you will not only be on first name terms with everyone in it, but you will have enjoyed yourself so much, there is a distinct possibility that you will forget where you are staying.
Benidorm Night Life
Night time in Benidorm is another excuse to learn how much alcohol your body can take before it gives out to alcohol poisoning. Everything seems to be 2 for 1 on local spirits. They are not truly ‘local’. Local spirits is another name for ‘the cheapest they could find’ brand of whatever spirit you fancy. Unless you specify the brand you want to drink, you will be given the cheap alternative – but 2 of them, even though you only asked for one.
In Spain, they don’t use measures like they do in the pubs in the UK. Don’t be under the misunderstanding that they fill it till you say stop. They don’t. But every bar knows, depending on the size of the lumps of ice, where to fill it to. It’s still at least 4 times bigger a measure than served in any pub in the UK.
Most local spirits are pretty rancid, but once the first one is over, the rest go down a treat.
The Square, in Benidorm, is the place to go at night time. It’s not actually called the Square – that’s its nickname, but every taxi driver knows by now exactly where to take you if you ask for the square.
I don’t know how it got its name. It’s not square. It’s not circular either, or anything like it, it’s just the name for a relatively small area consisting of parts of several streets where the bigger entertainment bars all condense together. You’ll have trouble walking through the square without being accosted by touts, offering leaflets that will get you a free drink if you go into the establishment they are touting business for.
In the square, nearly everyone speaks English. The big bars may be owned and run by the Spanish, but they learnt years ago to hire British staff and British entertainers, in order to attract the British tourist.
Once you have entered one of these bars, it is difficult to leave. The entertainment offered is fantastic for the cost of your 2 for 1 drink. You get Frank Sinatra sound-alikes, Elvis look-alikes and some of the best free entertainment offered anywhere in the world.
Not only does every two-bit singer who actually can sing and put on a great stage show, Benidorm is full of has-beens has well as wannabes. It’s a regular joke among the comedians that putting on a show in Benidorm is special because instead of getting your name in lights, you get it in chalk!
Every bar, not just those providing entertainment, advertises that day’s special on a blackboard placed on the street outside.
Occasionally big names from the world of show biz appear in Benidorm, but they are usually billed to appear at Benidorm Palace, else the Bullring in the old town.
You might be surprised at how many big names choose to holiday in Benidorm. Next time you are there, check out that guy at that next table to you.
Finally, a word about crime in Benidorm. Like everywhere else, there are people who take advantage of others. This video here describes and incidence where a female holidaymaker was robbed of all her holiday money by a yob on a motorbike or scooter. This is unfortunately a sad fact of life in Benidorm.
I always walk with my bag over the shoulder nearest the buildings because it is simply too vulnerable when next to the roadside from just this type of crime. Extra care has to be taken at all times. These thieves are on the lookout for drunk holidaymakers, seeing them as fair targets which is so sad when people have saved all year for this one holiday.
Even if you don't understand Spanish, if you watch the video you will see the police detain a suspect and return the woman's bag to her, which is a nice ending for a change.
- The Attractions of Benidorm
Benidorm, nestled between mountain ranges on three sides, and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, was a sleepy fishing village up until the 1970s, when the first of the British Tour Packages abroad cam into...