European Travels with SACCO. A Land of Contrasts: Torrevieja and Benidorm

European Travels with SACCO. A Land of Contrasts: Torrevieja and Benidorm
Veronica Fritzon recalls an enjoyable – and eye-opening – trip to Spain

When I think of Spain I think of bullfights, oranges, ceramics and football. In terms of location, I think of Benidorm…I enjoyed watching a few episodes of the eponymous T.V. sitcom, so by the time I had the chance to visit Spain, this had become central to my imaginative experience of the country. 

Our destination was Torrevieja on the Costa Blanca coast. We arrived at Alicante airport after the usual passport control processes at Gatwick, where I always experience anxiety. 

I admit my forgetfulness has got me in trouble before; my husband will tell you I have been stopped on several occasions, once because a knife from a silver christening cutlery-set I bought in a sale had sunk unnoticed to the bottom of my handbag…not a good look in passport control, and certainly a lesson checking our baggage for long lost items before setting off on our travels.  

My friend Ann picked up the hire car at the Airport, and after thankfully remembering to drive on the right for the whole of the 40 minutes journey, we arrived in Torrevieja. 

Spain made a favourable first impression on me; I kept comparing it to Jamaica. Waking up to cocks crowing in the early morning sunshine, and hibiscus plants flowering outside my window felt glorious, as was the colourful local village market, which we visited the next day. 

Our hour-long trip to Benidorm passed in a blur of well-tended roundabouts, a pink salt- lake, flamingos, black bulls and a wonderful underground cave village. 

Arriving in Benidorm we were put off in the town centre. Shops full of leather goods line the streets leading down to the beach, and a very wide promenade stretches along the seafront, full of souvenir stalls, apartment blocks, hotels, nightclubs and English style pubs and cafes, with people sitting outside drinking Sangria and beer. 

Most surprising were all the mobility scooters zipping along, with a startling array of passengers, including the elderly, the young, the middle aged and dogs. What is this about?! Is this a new fashion trend we’ve missed?

With over 1.5 million visitors to this former fishing village every year, Benidorm is a favourite destination for British expats and tourists. Parasols and deckchairs crowded the beach as far as the eye could see. 

The surprisingly clean sand almost scorched our feet, and after selecting our deck chairs and parasols, we settled down to some serious people watching. 

Although we didn’t swim ourselves, we could see all age groups enjoying water games in the sea, and sailboats were visible on the far horizon. 

As the afternoon heat intensified, clothing seemed to disappear to who knows where…

Many people were very skimpily dressed, with naked tops and thin garish swimming clothes, which in some cases must have proved a very painful mistake: around us skin tones slowly turned all hues, from lobster pink to scarlet, and from dark brown to nearly black. 

Later I took a stroll along the promenade, discovering the ubiquitous McDonalds, KFC and Coop supermarkets along the way. I welcomed the supermarket, as not only was it very clean, it had facilities I could use for free, whilst stocking up on beer and Sangria for the rest of our stay in Spain. With its wonderful flora and fauna and contrasting landscapes, this part of Spain is a great and affordable place to visit – I’m looking forward to seeing all sorts of interesting sights there again. 

Many tour companies offer package holidays to Benidorm. It’s worth shopping around: always compare prices and check for discounts to get the best deals.