Christmas in Neverland
After Valencia, there are only a few more stops before we arrive at the one place we knew we would have to experience properly… Benidorm! We didn’t really know what to expect (haven’t even seen the TV series) but we knew it was a popular place with many Brits for winter and that it has a bit of a reputation as a party place.
Our plan was to visit Benidorm for a few days before heading back up the coast, back to Calpe for Christmas, but as so often happens, our plans changed.
With Christmas around the corner, and with us being in an area where there are hardly any camperstops, a campsite was the most sensible option, but all sites along this part of coast are already extremely busy with many people booking their Christmas pitches well in advance. Fearing ending up in a ‘Mary & Joseph’ scenario (with the baby dog Luna), facing ‘no room at the Inn’, we decided to book our place at Armanello (one of the last few free pitches) until after Christmas.
Time to find out about Benidorm! Luckily, we had some experts on hand in Tom and Jo, our C&CC colleagues who’ve been coming to Benidorm for a few years now, and who gave us the guided tour; soon we knew where the best shows were with the best acts, the best food and the best beaches. Several evenings out and we’ve seen Adele in Morgan’s Tavern, better known as Neptune’s bar in the TV series, as well as Neil Diamond, Queen, Lady GaGa, Shakey Stevens and several drag acts like Miss Coco Chanel and Stella Artois.
Benidorm is a bit like a permanent carnival; a constant party, always open, loud, brash, colourful, busy! Initially it’s a bit of an assault on the senses, but it is also fun! People are happy, relaxed and enjoying themselves. At this time of year, it’s mostly an older generation but they are living life to the full, even if it is on a mobility scooter. It makes me think of Benidorm as Neverland; a place where people have a party regardless of their age.
Living in Benidorm is cheap; cheap food in restaurants, cheap drinks, free shows. Not all of it is quality, but it’s not all terrible either. Sometimes it pays to find the places that don’t offer big discounts & deals for tourists. They’re still not expensive but the quality of the food is a bit better. We enjoyed some beautiful tapas in Santa Domingo, the famous Tapas Alley in the old town of Benidorm.
Not far from Tapas Alley is the Benidorm Mirador, also known as the Balcony, a beautiful viewpoint with views across Levante and Poniente beaches; a lovely place to watch the world go by for a while and get a good view of the impressive Benidorm skyline with all its highrises.
There is more to Benidorm than just hotels, bars, restaurants, cheap shops and mobility scooters however. The Sierra Gelada nature reserve is just on the doorstep and extends all the way to L’Albir. There are some great walks to mountain tops and little hidden beaches and coves. L’Albir is only a 15 minute bike-ride away and has a beautiful seafront. From here it’s a lovely seafront walk to Altea, a whitewashed hillside village definitely worth a visit.
So this is where we will celebrate Christmas. On Christmas Eve morning, we set out to get groceries for our Christmas dinner; we’ve decided on a roast chicken dinner as our oven isn’t really big enough to fit a turkey. In the local ‘overseas’ supermarket (Iceland, Waitrose and Greggs products), we find Yorkshire puddings and mince pies. We decide to use a packet of Patatas Bravas as quick and easy roast potatoes. A soup vegetable pack contains carrots, swede and parsnips, so we’re all set!
In the evening, we are invited to a Paëlla & Sangria Party with our Dutch neighbours on the campsite. They cook a huge, beautiful Paëlla and we have a lovely evening with good conversation, drinks and food.
Finally, Christmas is here! After a slow start and breakfast, and several video calls to our families, we go for a walk along the beach. Then it’s time to cook the dinner. We don’t have the space we used to have in a house, but it all works out a treat. After dinner, there’s really no better way to spend Christmas than by watching Christmas movies. We make the lounge up into a huge bed, sit back, relax and watch Christmas being saved, again and again.
A Perfect Christmas! Feliz Navidad!
Tomorrow, we move on again, and we’re both looking forward to it after being in one place for 11 days! It will be great to be on the road again, finding new places, and most importantly some quieter places, as the party noise at night is starting to get a bit annoying here in Benidorm, so we’re looking forward to quiet, deserted beaches and coves where we can sleep in total darkness and silence and wake up to the sunrise and the sound of the waves rolling onto the beach.