No golf today but I reverted to my natural tendencies and despite the tightly closed shutters I was awake at my usual early hour. Richard was still fast asleep of course so I did my best to keep appropriately quiet as I crept about the apartment and made an early cup of tea. Opening the shutters was a challenge but I was successful and I spent a leisurely time on the terrace drinking tea and watching the sun come up and flood the garden with comforting morning rays. There was a blue sky and it was going to be another good day. Eventually Richard emerged from his dark pit and joined me on the patio.
Our plan today was to drive to Torrevieja for breakfast and take a look at one of the Costa Blanca hotspots (or perhaps black spots depending on your point of view). We were in no hurry so there was plenty of time for Richard to make his morning estate inspection, clean the apartment right through and take the rubbish to the recycling centre down the road. After he done all of this we finally got away and made our way back to the grotty coast road and drove to our destination. Once again Richard’s navigational skills were exemplary and he guided us perfectly to a car park right next to the sea front.
It has to be said straight away that this is not a place that I will be rushing to for my holidays! There is a long concrete strip overlooked by 1970’s high-rise hotels and apartments and littered with bars with cheap plastic orange furniture and tacky pictures of the food on the menu. I really hate that! I know what bacon and eggs looks like and I know what spaghetti bolognese looks like (or what it should look like) and what I also know is that these pictures bear absolutely no resemblance to what you are likely to get if you are demented enough to order it.
One thing that I did like was the impressive sandcastle artists who had constructed the most amazing displays of castles, dragons and ogres and were diligently carrying out constant running repairs to prevent the things drying out and collapsing back into the sea. Next to them on the beach were the army of British ex-pats who must now have little else to do everyday than to find their favourite pitch on the sand and wonder what else to do. There are an enormous amount of Brits living in this part of Spain; in Torrevieja alone there are about twelve thousand and this accounts for about thirteen per cent of the entire population (the Spanish themselves are in the minority here at only forty-eight per cent) and by 2010 it is estimated that there will be one million Brits living on the Costa Blanca.
That is a lot of space freed up at home for the Eastern European migrant workers who want to come to Britain! The sad thing of course is that they don’t want to seriously integrate and the place is awash with British pubs, British breakfasts and British newspapers and that really is a great shame. In more glorious times the British gave the world great architecture, magnificent civic buildings and culture and now all we have to give is Burger King, Chinese Restaurants of questionable quality, fish and chips and England football shirts.
It was a bit late for breakfast by the time that we completed our walk along the seafront and when we eventually selected a restaurant it was practically lunchtime. Luckily this place didn’t have pictures of the food and was semi-traditional place with a heritage going back to the 1950’s so we ordered tapas and beer and sat in the sun and watched the increasing beach activity. The food was a bit disappointing and we ordered far too much but the beer was nice so we had a second just to make sure before we paid up and moved off back to the car and a trip down the coast.
We stopped again at La Zenia and dropped in once more at the beach top bar where we baked in the sun and watched the shoreline activity again. After a cool drink we walked along the beach and Richard brazenly ogled the topless bathers in his usual indiscreet style. Now this is very embarrassing indeed, I can remember it in Gran Canaria in 1986 and his son, Scott, will agree wholeheartedly with me, having been subjected to his dad’s zealous enthusiasm for finding lady bathers without their tops on on their visit to this very same beach only the year before. One day he is sure to get slapped in the face but until that happens I suppose he will just go on enjoying his little beach walks in the sun.
After we had seen enough of the topless ladies we drove further south to a more refined beach resort at Dehesa de Campoamor which was a nice little place where we found a perfectly acceptable little beach bar where we sizzled for a while longer in the sun and listened in to the conversations of the British ex-pats. Sadly conversation is severely limited and there are only three main topics; the first is about property, how much they paid for their place and how much it is worth now, second how it was the best decision that they ever made in their lives and third how they would never ever go back because Britain is such a bad place to live because of the crime. EXCUSE ME! At least I don’t have to worry myself stupid about security and live behind security grills and more locks and keys than you’d find in a high security prison. Some of these people have lost all sense of reality and spend most of their time trying to convince themselves that they made the right decision when they sold up, left their heritage behind and relocated to the sun. Personally I am not convinced.
It was time to move on and with a disappointing absence of topless bathers to watch we drove back to the apartment for an afternoon of leisure. Unfortunately naked swimming was now out of the question because the night before some people had gate crashed our holiday and moved in to the apartment next door and when we arrived back to the garden they had taken up sunbathing positions around the pool. We minded our own business for quite a while but eventually we were overcome with curiosity and we just had to strike up a conversation with our new neighbour. It took a while to get beyond the three main topics of conversation but we quickly realised that here was a man who was the vice-president of the neighbourhood association and this was a role that he took very seriously indeed and he was looking forward to the Annual General Meeting which was due to take place later this week.
He was so boring that we started to look forward to it as well, because this was going to be fun! He introduced us to the hierarchy of Spanish property ownership; first of all there are the owners and they are top of the pile, and then below them are the guests, these are the people who are using the apartments as friends of the owners and this is where we fitted in, and right at the bottom (actually some way at the bottom) are the renters, who are common people who can’t afford overseas property investments and don’t have friends who can either.
It was at this time that Richard played a despicable trick on me. He was engaged in conversation with Pete and anxious to get away before his brain melted with tedium strain he seized the moment brilliantly when I wandered up to join in and he took the opportunity to disappear inside and back to the fridge bar. It took me at least fifteen minutes to get away myself after being subjected to a barrage of boasting and a conversation about optimistic Spanish property valuations.
After that we did much the same as on the previous nights; went to Villamartin where we went to the same restaurant and enjoyed another hearty meal and then went back to the apartment for late night drinks, reflection on the day past and optimism about tomorrow’s round of golf.
More stories about Spain:
Benidorm, Plan General de Ordinacion
Benidorm, The War of the Bikini
Benidorm 1977 – First impressions and the Hotel Don Juan
Benidorm 1977- Beaches, the Old Town and Peacock Island
Benidorm 1977 – Food Poisoning and Guadalest
Benidorm – The Anticipation
Benidorm – The Surprise
World Heritage Sites