Night On The Town: Benidorm

Insight Pocket Guide (Costa Blanca: Alicante and Murcia)  London-Singapore, 1991/2001, 1,000 words; extract  

It is easy to knock Benidorm, especially if you have never set foot in the place. I first glimpsed its high-rise blocks from the coastal road as a child and it made an impression, so out of place below the wild headland to the north. Thirty years later I went back for Insight Guides. This is what I found.

Most people who have been to Benidorm will admit, though often reluctantly, that even if you dont like package tourism there is a fascination in the style with which Benidorm does it - something akin to that of Las Vegas. 

Drive into town at sunset as the bathers are drifting away from the beach. As the dark settles over the sea, the lights from the towering Hotel Bali - all fifty-two storeys - beam out over the back of town like a vast urban lighthouse. Then, as the music strikes up in seafront cafs where senior citizens adeptly turn a neat waltz or tango, the paseo begins.

Mini-skirted girls twice the height of their grandmothers, old men in berets and women with fans stroll along the seafront at that instinctive pace that distinguishes a paseo from a walk.

SUNSET ON THE PASEO

One realises, watching it flow past, that whatever the turnover of English mugs of tea here, Benidorm remains eminently Spanish. Mini-skirted girls twice the height of their grandmothers, old men in berets and women gesticulating with fans stroll together along the seafront at that instinctive pace that distinguishes a paseo from a walk. And, as they stroll, they take in the town.

Turn off the seafront, step down onto the sand and you will find a small part of the human machine that works day and night to keep this giant resort going. As the bathers leave at sunset a small army of rubbish collectors takes to the beach. Much later, after midnight, dumper trucks will move in for the long job of sifting out cigarette butts and oxygenating the sand while out in the bay, night and day, a filter cleans and monitors the water.  For Benidorm knows that the two sweeping crescents of white sand around which it grew from a tiny fishing village to a giant resort, remain its greatest asset.

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