Destinations Magazine

Benidorm, Spain: Britain In The Sun?

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

Britain in the sun? I don't think! Benidorm sometimes goes by the name 'Blackpool with Sun', maybe in the summertime before the Pandemic changed everything and then from Summer 2022 but I challenged that harsh slur. Doing nothing escandalosa, I wanted to do my research to see if everything was really just for the Brits! Watch yourself, because peligrosa estoy! ¡Cuidado! 

Benidorm, Spain: Britain In The Sun?

Of course, I had to stay at the hotel where the cult British holiday themed TV show 'Benidorm' had been partially filmed! Choosing the 'Sol Pelícanos' for that 'Brits Abroad' reference, I found a very clean and orderly hotel operating before me. The hotel had an entirely Spanish workforce as I had expected! Just because I was a British person 'abroad' didn't mean I expected the staff to speak the Queen's English because unlike some guests from 'Reino Unido' I tried to speak as much Spanish as I could! Being 'una persona británica en el extranjero' did not render any excuses, I would do as the locals would do at the hotel, I would speak Spanish to the staff with confidence! My hotel was still a Spanish company, nothing about its operation was British other than their approach to cater for us during meal times. Let me get onto that real quick! Knowing what Brits can be like when on the booze had me imagining the states they must deal with! Dios!

I spoke my Spanish, yes I did but the hotel knew their market and for that reason I had to admire Benidorm as a whole for that. Benidorm gives the British what we want, they know every food that we like and have mastered their catchment like a fine art. The hotel 'Sol Pelícanos' for me put on a mighty spread each breakfast time, each morning I sampled the same consistently cooked breakfast. The bacon and sausages were like no other, if I sat and ate my breakfast with my eyes closed I was back in 'Blighty' in a greasy spoon. Hats off to the Spanish hospitality sector in Benidorm because us Brits return every single year. For me Benidorm was a case of curiosity, I won't be one of the faithful few who return each year for the last decade. Benidorm, back to my tongue, this time it didn't get me in trouble because I was asking questions! I asked one of the bar staff how I could say 'same again' in Spanish? Alex taught me that I should say 'la misma?'  

Benidorm, Spain: Britain In The Sun?

With most of the staple nightlife options running at a reduced capacity during that early Janaury 2022 time, I wanted to look past Cafe Benidorm. Trading a strong shot of cheap alcohol upon entry, I decided my nighttime exchange would be a walk along Benidorm's 'Avenida del Mediterráneo' to see a more Spanish situation. The pedestrian avenue gave me what I wanted to see, there was a certain air of sophistication about that nighttime vista along the 'Mediterranean Avenue'. Mostly Spanish people were taking their winter strolls, families made up of predominantly Spanish stock were enjoying the rides at the roadside fun-fare with much gusto! I did not see any screaming British children because on large due to vaccination rules, most kids weren't allowed to travel. Witnessing a view that did not compromise those Spanish settings. I'm not being mean, I am simply saying what I saw and for that I won't apologize. ¡No, no lo siento!

'Old Benidorm' had dished a serving of Spanish nighttime Realness with the character-filled winding streets and alleys. The British hadn't yet made their presence in that part of town because those conversations were 'Strictly Spanish!' Dodging those restaurants who were cooking 'Eggs, Beans & Chips' for tea had us mixing with a local crowd, I could eat that food when back in Blighty. 'Churros' and 'Hot Chocolate' in an authentic 'Churreria?' Damn right! That Spanish speaking and frequented cafe had us listening to some eccentric conversations in Spanish, of course I would have some 'Home From Home' experiences but I was in Spain after all! Absolutely, people can take the rough with the smooth but for me it was all about remembering that first and foremost, I was in Spain not the United Kingdom! That civilised avenue had me in my Benidorm feelings in the best way! ¡Escucha, no es el Reino Unido! ¿Claro?

Benidorm, Spain: Britain In The Sun?

Guaranteed, these Spanish thoughts had to be pushed aside during my time at the 'Indoor Market' in Benidorm because it was so very uncanny! Resembling my local Bilston Indoor Market with every single living detail, even the baked goods at 'Alarcon's' looked exactly the same as that hometown center of commerce! Known as the 'Centro Comercial Mercaloix' in Spanish, the British owned card shop had me thinking of home instantly! Now, I lived for that slice of 'Bargain Loving Brits In The Sun' because that reference had been one of the key factors as to why I had chose Benidorm. Being in China from 2015 to 2020 had me missing something European, I knew affectionally that would remind me of home even more than the real thing back in Bilston, West Midlands, England! I wasn't mad at this British indoor wonder because it served the local expat population perfectly! Maybe 'Blackpool with Sunshine' wasn't an insult? 

No! I was just throwing my words about like I usually do, both Benidorm and Blackpool make the British market very happy indeed! Needing a hot caffeinated drink before we headed to Altea on the second morning of our January 2022 visit, we went over to 'Alarcon’s' British Cafe at the Indoor Market in Benidorm. The atmosphere made the perfect place to listen to fellow British tourists who much like me needed a cuppa or two! Mind you, the cakes and baked looked fantastic as mentioned previously. A Spanish owned business? I think so? Yes! Their attention to detail was second to none, sure the Spanish as a whole in Benidorm know their British market. We might come across as the most fussiest customer in the restaurant but in actual fact, once they serve the Brits well, then they'll have their till ringing constantly. Benidorm knows its market, for those who stick to what they knew, Benidorm is their slice of 'Britain In The Sun!' 

Benidorm, Spain: Britain In The Sun?

I cannot tell a lie, when I found 'Mariano's' near my Sol Pelícanos hotel, I knew that a second visit would happen no question! First time around the curse of the 'oven chips' had us unimpressed, from the corner of my eye I saw on a nearby table a woman had ordered the same 'Pollo Asado' with rice and an egg! Choosing to return to 'Mariano's' on the final evening of the holiday felt correct, in Spanish I ordered the food with confidence. Ordering 'Dos medios pollos asados con arroz y huevos' for the win, that order thankfully was understood fully because the desired plates arrived with the correct food on them. Getting that Spanish language on point meant a lot to me, the waiters appreciated I had at least tried to order our food in their language rather than assuming everybody spoke our language! I will never be one of those Brits, my time spent working in the United States of America sure helped me! ¡Yo hablo algo de Español! ¡Sí!

I will always treat Benidorm as Spain with a strong British presence even though many Brits affectionately see it as their slice of 'Britain In The Sun'. Those home comforts are catered for, pulling back those cash laden British tourists to spend their funds day and night, I get that those visitors may not ever be able to master Spanish. For that reason, I chose to pick and chose the elements of Benidorm's Spanish location by speaking as much of their language as possible, visibly making an effect to change the narrative because some of us appreciate different cultures. The food for the British found me in the hotel during breakfast, sure I was impressed by those home comforts. Choosing that Spanish looking avenue, the tourist traps would have to wait for me during another night! Yes, the Indoor Market impressed me with such reminders of home! I chose to embrace some of the Britishness but remembered the location. ¡Gracias, cariño! Adiós!

¡Benidorm No Es El Reino Unido!

Joseph Harrison

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