Benidorm is located on the east coast of Spain between the Costa del Sol to the south and the Costa Brava in the far north. It is a cheap and nasty, in-between kind of place.
Benidorm is the biggest holiday resort in Europe, attracting five million visitors a year, many of them working-class Brits.
Images of its beaches, hotel pool-sides and noisy pubs are preserved in the dusty photo albums of generations of English families. In those pubs and on its pavements, a lot of British blood has been spilt over the years.
Benidorm’s motto is Wild until Breakfast
British men lie comatose on the beach all day, protected by big parasols from the sun they have come in search of. They’re too knackered to step out into the painful sunshine and walk over the baking-hot sand to paddle in the water.
They are content to moan, because your average Englishman is only happy when he’s moaning. That’s why he pays all the money to take a holiday in Benidorm, just to be able to moan in a bit of luxury.
Muttering things like this:
“…This sunburn is killing me. Look at me arms. Like red pokers…”
“…I had forty quid in my wallet last night. Look what’s left. You couldn’t catch a bus with it back home. And all I had was two pints of watered-down ale and a roast chicken butty that was all lettuce. Thieving Spaniards. Why do we keep coming back here every summer?”
The answer to that riddle only becomes apparent when the sun goes down. Then the Brits come to life again. Like vampires. Swooping into the karaoke bars, the show bars; the clubs, cabarets, casinos. On and on to the night’s waning and the throwing up of curry into the gutters.
Take an evening off. Get out of it. Take a cab down the coast about half-an-hour to Alicante. Lovely place. The Roman legionnaires used to get drunk here two thousand-odd years ago.
A big rocky crag, called Mount Benacantil, dominates the port, casting its shadow over everything. Perched on the top is the Castle of Santa Barbara.
Up one side of Benacantil, reaching almost to the walls of the Castle, clings the Barrio de la Santa Cruz, a maze of ancient houses and steep, narrow cobbled alleyways. It’s called, simply, El Barrio, and is the heart of Alicante’s night-life.
But we warned.
In Benidorm, you can find a place to start getting drunk five minutes after you leave the hotel, if you don’t fall into the swimming pool first. To get to El Barrio, you have to tramp up the side of a mountain.
It can be a bit like climbing the lower slopes of Everest just to get a beer. And remember that more people are killed every year descending Mount Everest than going up.
But right there at the top is where you’ll find Tommy and Alec.
Get to know them better by reading their story from the start. Find it on Kindle.