Well, it was about time we went up market, so we finally had a day in Benidorm yesterday. An interesting experience! It may be best known for high rise hotels full of drunken young English people who make lots of noise, fornicate enthusiastically and vomit in the streets, but in winter it takes on another personality entirely. The hotels are crammed with coachloads of ancient Spanish pensionistas ferried in from all the inland cities at virtually no cost to themselves to get a bit of winter sunshine. This is heavily subsidised by the national and regional governments as a vote buying exercise, and is probably largely paid for by the willing tax payers of Europe.
The place was particularly crowded yesterday. Why? Good guess. Yet another blooming fiesta! I remember John Cleese doing a brilliant spoof on the touristic marvels of Venice many years ago. It started with him waxing lyrical about the timeless canals and the elegant gondolas which poled smoothly and serenely along them. By the end, he was incandescent with rage as every camera shot was filled with “another bloody gondola”. I am beginning to feel much the same about Spanish fiestas. We had driven forty miles to get our NIE tax certificate from the National Police office, only to find that it was closed for the fiesta. This particular one lasts three days and celebrates the life of St James. Three days every year for a minor Saint??? Add to that the fact that nobody will bother to go to work on the day before the fiesta because they are “preparing”, or the day after “recovering”, and you begin to get some idea of why the economy is in such doo-doo. The average number of days off per annum for “sickness” for Spanish civil servants is sixty-two. Add nineteen fiestas and twenty-one days holiday, and that makes 102 days off per year from a potential two hundred and fifty. Absolutely staggering!
Sorry. Rant over. We actually had a very pleasant day even though we achieved absolutely nothing. I had a good sing (in Spanish) with a group of about 200 pensionistas who formed an impromptu choir on the beach. Can’t imagine it happening in Worthing! We then had a pleasant lunch in a restaurant on the sea front. Sun shining, blue sky, gleaming water, lots of interesting people to watch. We’ve been in worse places!
The weeks seem to be galloping rapidly by. The skies are still blue, but the days are a bit crisper and we now have to light the fire at five o’ clock in the evening when the sun goes behind the mountains, and it is dark by 6.30. We are both quite contented here but would love to have more visitors, so if you fancy a trip out between now and March, let us know.
All the best, Andy.
PS Would still love to know who our follower in Brazil is!