04.10.2009 30 °C
Imagine a beautiful sandy bay ringed with towering red mountains. Add palm trees and hedges of oleanders and hibiscus. Now turn on the sun to warm up the crystal Mediterranean waters and you have Paradise. But wait - what the hell went wrong here? What turned a glorious multi-hued dream…….into this stark, brown urban nightmare…
Benidorm happened …. Benidorm - Paradise ruined.
With the advent of budget airlines twenty-five-years ago, half-a-million sun-starved northerners turned up with granny and the kids demanding cheap lodgings, even cheaper booze and bingo, Communist-style concrete skyscrapers sprouted faster than the palm tress and overran every square metre of this picturesque bay. So, if you crave the fast life - fast food, fast barmen and fast roulette wheels - this is just the place for you.
But we preferred the place next door - Vila Joiosa where the average tourist is so geriatric that they need moving walkways to get them on and off the beach …
The seafront at Vila Joiosa will be incredibly quaint once all the construction is finished - although we are beginning to wonder if that will ever happen; after all, they have been working on this place since the Middle Ages. But everywhere we look we see works-in-progress. From the airport in El Atet to the many seaside apartment blocks and to the castle overlooking Alicante, everywhere is under construction - although little activity seems to be taking place. We have heard from several reliable sources that the concept of ‘manana’ (tomorrow) is not merely a demeaning stereotype of Spaniards. So, perhaps the kindest way to describe the Spain that we have seen so far is that it is a work in progress.
Next stop, Sheila's birthday and then the ancient city of Elche - renowned for its plantations of date palms.