Wednesday. So, we’re up and about, perhaps not as early as we would have liked but the flight and travel time yesterday coupled with the fabulous Nepalese meal at the Nepali Tandoori Restaurant on Calle Lepanto may have a combined effect of slowing us down.
I’ll be referring back to the Nepali restaurant later in these texts such was the quality of the meal.
Today is a new day and we decide to take a bus as far across town as possible and walk back. I’ve been to countries where the simple act of catching a bus can be ‘challenging’ but not in Spain; you pay your €1.50 and you’re good to go. It lasts only one journey though so if you want to go one stop you may feel it more prudent to walk. Today we’re going across town which takes about 40 minutes so it’s good value, tomorrow we’re going to another town so that’s even better value!
The journey itself is interesting in as much as the route is convoluted and worth a trip just to orientate yourself and the outstanding thing for me is the amount of investment that’s going on. There are roadworks and building programmes on a number of streets, not enough to be off-putting but reassuring in terms of confidence in their local economy and tourists. Benidorm is part way through the process of re-inventing itself and if you believe it’s just for stag and hen parties then you’re missing a trick. It’s nestled into a double bay with a southern outlook and the natural crescents of sand protect the town from the winds that can blow across the Med. When you approach it from the airport it is high rise and it looks like a concrete jungle but it is what it is and it does it really well.
The bus has a screen that tells you what the next stop is going to be and between that and Google maps running on my ‘phone we know precisely where we are should there be any area of town that we pass and want to revisit on our walking return.
The bus drops us in a tiny bay which is worth a visit purely because it is slightly forgotten and has a ‘relatively’ quiet ambiance where there appear to be a number of discerning Dutch and German people. The beach is adjacent to Cala Finestrat, Cala is a Spanish word for river or cove and Finestrat is a district. We walk around the tiny cove and up on to the rock which is bathed in sunshine. It’s a dead-end but no matter, we’re in no hurry and this new view of Benidorm is interesting for its own sake. There’s a young man walking towards us who smiles and wishes “Hasta luego” (see you later). It’s the equivalent of “So long” in English and is meaningless in content but a wonderful illustration of how friendly the Spanish people are; always a “Hola” or “Buenas días” and usually delivered with a smile – sunshine brings out the best in everyone.
Click on any image and you can page through them full screen…
After a brief inspection of the rocks and astonishment at the way that the houses; complete with tiny swimming pools, are built into the rock, we make our way through the narrow streets and descend the steps onto Playa de Poniente (West or Sunset Beach) and make our way along the promenade in a sweeping curve.
This part of Benidorm is not as commercial as the area near the Castell Promontory and the Old Town. The area beyond is Playa de Levante (East or Sunrise Beach) and, along with the Old Town, are the real tourist areas.
It takes us five or six hours to walk the two beaches although we do takes some time to drink coffee and people watch.
We pause for a while near the marina at the base of El Castell on the Pointe side and discuss the church when a voice with a wonderfully strong Mancunian accent says, “Are you looking for the church?”
I nod and say “Yes”.
“It’s up the 234 steps over there” and he gestures to the path that is partially hidden by railings and a bit of shrubbery.
I nod again, this time to indicate acknowledgment but feel it would be rude not to engage in some dialogue and ask him if he’s visited it.
This is Colin and he comes here every year from the beginning of December to the end of January and there’s not a lot that he hasn’t done or seen over the years.
He’s had a heart attack so now takes three pills per day and his doctor tells him that he’s doing exactly the right thing. Out here he’s out and about every day in the winter whereas back in Bolton in the winter he’d be sitting watching the TV. He spends one month in one hotel then between Christmas and New Year he changes the hotel, he’s telling us he does this to vary the surroundings but it also means he gets a more varied menu although he does eat out most evenings and if you pick and chose your venue it’s cheaper than eating in in the UK and you get to talk to different people. He’s a nice guy is Colin and he also gives us some advice regarding a trip to Altea, just to the East, using public transport where there are some good walks – we both prick up our ears at this point and tomorrow is being planned as we listen.
If you ever read this Colin, your advice was followed and we owe you a big thanks for it but to return to the here and now we take our leave and start the ascent of the steps. We don’t count them and arrive at the Church of St Jaime; however, unlike the churches in beautiful Yorkshire the ones in Spain seem to spend most their time locked and this one is no exception! So off we go again, this time into the shops and then on to the promontory where a busker is playing some beautiful guitar music. It’s these moments that are the best, sheer pleasure as we bask in the sun, take in the views of the hills and listen to the music which is Spanish enough for it to be local but not too flamenco to be tedious (I once went to a one hour flamenco recital and it was the longest week of my life!) however, this guy and his style I like but it doesn’t work for all. A few minutes later I’d returned from my musical reverie to be told by the Pilgrim that a really articulate Scot had turned to his wife/partner and said, “I’m not listening to this crap!” and promptly walked off. Clearly, the sound of this guitar is falling short of the subtle sounds of the bagpipes – so there you have it, you really can’t win ‘em all.
We wend our way along the Playa de Levante (Sunset Beach) and arrive at the far eastern end of Benidorm just a little too early for the actual sunset and repair to a bar where we sit in the gap that can be a window should the weather demand. We engage with a gentleman who lives in Central London but travels a lot. He’s Irish and tells us about his (large) family back in Ireland and the fact that his Mam wanted to retire and enjoy life; however, her husband (his Dad) and the owner of a construction business did not, so she threatened to sue him if he didn’t change his mind. I’m not sure if we discovered the outcome as his partner returned having paid the bill. We greet him and mention we’ve been chatting to his partner. “Him…”, he responds, “He’s just a gobshite, he can talk for England.” Now that’s a mean feat for an Irishman. Still wondering what happened to his mam and dad though.
The sun makes a shallow arc across the sky and we make our way to the beach as it kisses the sea. I take a few pictures. It certainly earns its name as Sunset Beach and sets us up for a return to the hotel and an evening meal yet to be determined although my eyes have a few floaters in them from looking at the sunset.
Enjoy the snaps…G..x