Posted by: glenswatman | December 13, 2014

20141201-10 Playing tourists in Benidorm

201412
MONDAY 1 DECEMBER – En route to the bar for internet I notice movement in the nearby apartment where Claire’s niece and husband live. I pop up and introduce myself to Ian and get invited in to meet Lynn as well. They have a bull terrier called Angus and he has been voted the best in the world and is in great demand to be taken to shows and also used as a stud dog. They are also fellow motorhomers, ran their own business of a pharmacy and retired young so plenty in common. I eventually make it to the internet and book a Benidorm hotel for next week. Abandon my long list of wishes with the only hotel ticking all boxes coming in at over £500 for 2 nights. Instead I pick 3* Hotel Alone in Cala Finestrat, mainly because it offers a gluten free menu and at £88.60 for 2 nights half board for both of us our expectations are low so we shouldn’t be disappointed. I liked recent comments of spotlessly clean, quiet and good food swung and that it is in the Finistrat area near to the quiet Poniente Beach. Steve’s sat out enjoying the sun when I get back but it’s almost too hot for him so we accept and invite to Tana and Grahams for cards. Driving past Playa de los locos we notice it is 27C, what a change from yesterday. They seem to like our games up and down the river and bush rummy which again cause much amusement.
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TUESDAY 2 DECEMBER – I’ve invited Lynn and Ian round for lunch and we tuck in to chilli pasta followed by a concoted dessert. In the absence of custard powder I have used rice flower and vanilla sugar to create a kind of custard that turns out a bit like semolina. Served with chopped fresh oranges, wafer biscuits and with grated chocolate on top it passes muster. Making the most of another nice day we head off for a walk to La Mata and pick up Angus en route. Angus really takes to Steve and keeps giving him a nudge so Ian suggests Steve takes the lead. With a 35kg sturdy beast on the end Steve soon realises who is in charge of where they go!
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WEDNESDAY 3 DECEMBER – We take our morning walk in a different area then drive around to the nearby aquatic park. It’s all rather strange and hard to know whether things rare coming or going as it all looks a bit abandoned. Meet Claire for a coffee at Magani’s and catch up on her news. There’s a big change in the weather late afternoon and we end up getting thunder, lightning and heavy rain in the evening and through the night.
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THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER- Not the best of mornings but we pack up and head off towards Benidorm. Steve wants to go back to Alicante hospital to personally thank Dr Fernandez and his team. It’s quote emotional heading back to the ward where a number of nurses also remember Steve and everyone is delighted to see how well he is doing. Given that the other 2 British patients with leukaemia died it must be heartening to see Steve and that all their efforts paid off. We struggle to find our hotel as it turns out the street is split into two sections either side of the main road but not opposite each other so we get a good tour of the area trying to find it. Hotel Alone is pleasant enough, large rooms with balcony, two double beds, huge bathroom but all a little tired. Receptionist Nicola is half English half Spanish and gives us loads of info. We make the 10 minute walk down to the attractive but small Finestrat beach then return for lunch. The waiter knows about my gluten problem so shows me the salad bar and tells me a cooked meal will be prepared separately and brought to the table whilst Steve uses the buffet. The food is not outstanding but I’m just happy to know it is safe for me to eat. The Managers son is celiac so he knows exactly what can and cannot be tolerated. After lunch we drive to Camping Torreta to meet motorhoming friends Keith & Sandra from Wales. We last saw them exactly 3 years ago when we were free camped beside each other at Playa Flamenca. We’ve kept in touch ever since and they even visited Steve in Alicante hospital so notice a huge improvement. They still free camp a lot and have found plenty of spots en route from England and also tell us of some cheap campsites for future reference. Return for our evening meal and an early night as all the Hotel entertainment is Spanish, in fact I suspect we are the only English staying there.
BENIDORM (Cala Finestrat) 1, HOTEL ALONE

FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER – My 58th birthday and 3 years to the day since Steve was rushed into Alicante hospital – what a long way we have both come since then. It’s a lovely morning so we sit on the balcony after breakfast soaking up the warmth. Sandra gets in touch and says Keith is not well but she will cycle down and meet us near the old town. We set out to walk there and pass Bali Hotel. We can’t resist popping in and enjoying the views from their outside glass lift that goes to the 45th floor. It was the tallest hotel in Benidorm but has now been surpassed by the infamous twin towers and golden cup of the “Intempo”. It’s really nice walking behind Poniente Beach and taking note of the Spanish in their long trousers and coasts and tourists in T-shirts and shorts. In fact there are many spots along the beach where elderly people are gathered in swimwear doing mass workouts. We meet Sandra by an attractive park area and she secures her bike before becoming our tour guide. We’ve never really explored the old town and are very impressed by the viewing area, quaint back streets, beautiful church and tapas bars. We continue along Levante Beach and part way Sandra leaves us to return for her bike. Back in the old town we visit 2 Palms restaurant that Sandra recommended and they have a gluten free menu. The 3 course lunch at Euro 8.95 (£7) is delicious with lots of choices and really tasty food. The restaurant is tastefully decorated for Christmas and they are playing Christmas music quietly in the background which is really nice. We continue our walk back returning through the back streets and almost below the “Intempo” building which looks even stranger close up. Neither of us is really hungry but we head down for dinner and then walk it off with a stroll down to the beach. It’s a really quiet area with only a handful of people in some of the bars and other completely empty.
BENIDORM 2, HOTEL ALONE

SATUDAY 6 DECEMBER – Steve’s whacked after yesterdays walk so although it is another nice day we opt to head straight back to the apartment to relax.
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SUNDAY 7 DECEMBER- We fancy a bit of a stroll so start at the north end of La Mata intending continuing along the boardwalk but soon find it fizzles out and the beach walking is difficult. It’s really busy everywhere, this is a long weekend with a bank holiday tomorrow and I think also on Wednesday and Friday. Across the main road there is a national park by the salt lake but the walk there is pretty boring so we give up on that as well. It’s a short drive to Ciudad Quesada a man made city in the middle of nowhere and it feels really strange. Entering under an archway it looks false with a main street full of shops and bars and homes looking like Disney structures with turrets and towers. After walking around we still haven’t found the big club ask a local only to find that is in a different area. Due to the complicated layout of the estate they offer to guide us there and we follow their car through a maze of streets and up the hill. The higher you get the larger the homes seem to become until we reach an area with what can only be described as massive mansions. “The Club” has an outdoor bowling area and inside is a huge area with a bar, stage, restaurant and other entertainment areas. The new owners are English and we get the impression that this is another bit of “Little Britain”. Overall this area has little appeal to us other than it being better than many housing estates in England. Return to the coast and our piece of tranquillity at Cabo Cervera.
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MONDAY 8 DECEMBER – Jack and Dot are flying back to England tonight and call in en route. It takes them an hour for their Satnav to find our place via the back streets of Torrevieja. I cook up a roast chicken dinner and round it off with fresh fruit salad and ice cream. They are really taken with the apartment and love the views. Jack is familiar with the Spanish gas heaters and gets it set up for us although we are still a little nervous by the way it initially flares up before finally settling down. They head off late afternoon for their evening flight to Leeds/Bradford, the one that Sallie and Stuart are flying in on. We’ve invited Sallie and Stuart to stay over rather than make the long journey home and their Satnav tells them that La Mata is Cabo Cervera so they also get an area tour. They tell us that today they had snow in Queensbury, which is only a short distance from where Claire and family live. Think we will stay here a bit longer! They went back last Wednesday on their pre Christmas visit and had a family Christmas gathering at the weekend but are now happy to be back here. They’ve brought sleeping bags with them and settle down in the spare bedroom.
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TUESDAY 9 DECEMBER – After breakfast we head down to Punta Prima, an area we visited a lot whilst staying in Karen’s apartment. I popped down last April when I was over with Karen but can’t believe the difference with so much development. Blocks of apartments are flying up and there’s a massive one with two buildings just behind a new promenade. We wander along and round towards the naturist beach then return along a previously undiscovered cliff top path backed by some lovely homes, unfortunately none up for rent. A cup of coffee warms us up at Nautilus as it is a warm but blustery day. Return for lunch then a late afternoon game of boules which we fluke a win as in order to stay in the sun we play on the gravel walking area with lots of handicap pot holes. This evening Sallie and Stuart are visiting and staying with friends in nearby Almoradi so leave late afternoon.
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WEDNESDAY 10 DECEMBER – After a really blustery night it comes as no surprise to see the waves crashing onto the rocks and throwing up lots of spray. It’s mesmerising watching them throughout the morning. At lunchtime Chris and Norma arrive in Henry their motorhome, They’ve been camped at La Manga and their Satnav performed well and brought them directly here so thumbs up to Garmin, having said that Sallie and Stuart also had a Garmin model and a brand new one at that. Funny how we have been here for almost 5 weeks with few visitors and now they all come at once. In the afternoon we walk along to La Mata where hardy surfers are making the most of the magnificent waves. More of the promenade has been washed away but they are already busy working on it and creating a better drainage channel. We’d hoped to pick up some fresh fruit and veg at the market but arrive too late, however Steve does spot a bag of oranges that have been abandoned so all is not lost. Its easy walking back along the beach as the sand is really compacted after the storm. Tana has had chemo this week and isn’t up to quizzing tonight so Norma, Chris, Steve and myself head over to Los Rasos and make up a team calling ourselves “Tana’s friends”. We work together very well as we have different areas of expertise and squeeze a win by just 1 point. We could have a Euro 10 voucher to spend on food at the bar but as there is no quiz next week we opt for 3 bottles of wine instead. Our luck continues as I win the raffle but you then have to pick 1 of 4 envelopes. 3 contain a question that you must answer correctly to get the prize (a cumulative pot of over Euro 100) whilst 1 is a direct win. I get the question “in the twelve days of Christmas song what happened on the 7th day”? Without hesitation Norma says 7 lords a leaping and with nothing else springing to mind we go with that. Wrong it was 7 ladies dancing so the prize rolls over. As we would have done in the past Norma and Chris opt to sleep out in their motorhome in the car park below us.
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