Bad girls go to Benidorm

Or so says a T-shirt I saw last weekend – “Good girls go to Heaven/Bad girls go to Benidorm.”

For those not acquainted with Spanish party spots, Benidorm is a city on the Mediterranean coast, a little north of Alicante. Benidorm is a city of about 75,000 people, roughly 8% of whom hail from the United Kingdom. You can see that in the names of local establishments, such as “Beer’s Friend,” ”London Supermarket,” and ”Benidorm Yorkshire Pride.” A walk on the beachfront will give you lots of opportunities to hear English being spoken, largely by older folks with too few clothes and too much sun on board.

All of this has given Benidorm a reputation sort of like Atlantic City – people come to play (read, drink) and sit in the sun. The picture of a beachfront bar gives you some idea of what I mean. This, in turn, means that lots of hen parties and stag parties take place in Benidorm on any given weekend. A couple of years ago Mark and I took a Ryan Air flight (which is always a questionable choice) from Bristol, England to Alicante, the airport that serves Benidorm. Stupidly, we took a late afternoon flight on a Thursday. Our fellow passengers included a stag party dressed in T-shirts featuring a photo of the groom on the toilet, which ought to give you a clue about how the flight went. Although honestly the stag partiers behaved better than the members of the senior men’s rugby team, who were drunk when they boarded the plane and even drunker when they got off. One team member came and sat on Mark’s lap so he could talk to his friend in the seat ahead, which I put the kibosh on by telling him that I was the only person who got to sit there. Sigh. This weekend we were treated to the sight of a groom roaming the beachfront in an inflatable penis costume. Sigh again.

So Benidorm can be a bit, um, overwhelming, and parts of it downright cheesy (so much so that there’s even a British TV show about it). In fact, I was a little skeptical the first time a friend suggested an outing there. But it just goes to show that, if you’re not too high and mighty to try something, you might just end up enjoying yourself a lot. We’ve found that one fun thing to do is to go to the Benidorm Palace, where tribute bands regularly play shows for sell-out crowds of folks who come on coach (bus, to us Americans) tours. We have done now this twice with our British friends Lynne and Tony and had a ball both times.

Take last weekend. We went with them on a coach tour to see The Manfreds perform at the Palace. We all sang along to such greats as ”Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and ”Pretty Flamingo” and generally had a great time. We were on the young end of the age range on our bus; in fact, one woman who looked quite elderly and walked very slowly, even with a walker, came along. At first I was skeptical about her ability to manage, but this gal had spunk and style. She showed up for the festivities dressed in a sequined blue and purple dress that glittered when she walked. Her ensemble was completed by sparkly hair combs and orthopedic sandals. She toddled gamely through the evening and looked to be having a blast.

So that’s my wit and wisdom on Benidorm, which is expansive enough to accommodate inflatable penis costumes and little old ladies with glittery dresses and sturdy shoes. To which I say, long may it wave!

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