Posts Tagged Benidorm

La Illeta Dels Banyets

yacimiento-arqueologicoEL CAMPELLO is a delightful town, in the heart of the Spanish Costa Blanca.  Situated about half an hour away from Alicante and an hour away from Benidorm, it has a population of around 26,000.  El Campello is home to a few English speaking folks – but it’s light years away from those who live, work and holiday in Alicante and Benidorm. 

As the town’s web-site – http://www.elcampello.es/index.php?s=campello_hoy&i=en – notes, it’s a ‘traditional fishing village which has known how to transform itself, without losing its roots, in to a first rate tourist town.’

Indeed, it’s where a lot of Spanish folks go for their holidays.  And it’s easy to see why – there’s over 14 miles (23 kilometres) of beautiful beaches which are effectively given a ‘manicure’ early every morning.  In addition to this the whole beach front is immaculate.  In fact it’s so neat and tidy you’d be hard pressed to find any litter at all. 

If you’re into history and culture, one of the highlights of El Campello is an archaeological site known as La Illeta Dels Banyets, sometimes known as the Queen’s Bathing Pools.

Earlier this year my wife and I visited the town.  We were aware of the La Illeta and wanted to visit it.  We were really lucky as our visit coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the opening of El Campello’s Tourist Information Office.  To mark the occasion, some visitor attractions were open free of charge – including the La Illeta.  Happy days!

I’ll let the town’s aforementioned web-site explain the significance of the site:

Located in a small peninsula, at the foot of the Watchtower, an archaeological site can be found which is, without a doubt, the most important of the Mediterranean. These lands were separated from the coast by an earthquake of an unknown date, and during the 30’s of the last century were artificially reunited with the land. The first excavations were carried out by F. Figueras Pacheco between 1931 and 35 and, during the decade of the 70’s, by E. A. Llobregat. These works confirmed the existence on this site of different civilisations and cultures, with the Roman, the Iberian, and the Bronze Era being the most significant, and so we can date the site as being over 5,000 years old.

From the Iberian era vessels, weapons, tombs and ceramic remains have been found, as well as singular buildings which lead us to believe that significant production and trade activity took place in relation to other Mediterranean cultures between the second and fourth Centuries B.C.

From the Roman era small thermal baths have been found which belonged to a disappeared agricultural village and, linked to this and to others nearby, some fish-farm hatcheries cut into the rock. Despite the erosion, the pools can still be made out, connected to the sea, in which the fish were farmed. These constructions (els Banyets) give their name to the site because according to word of mouth tradition they were the bathing pools of a Moorish queen.

The site is currently supervised by the Museo Arqueológico de Alicante (Marq), which is in charge of is museumisation.’

We both found La Illeta really interesting.  There were detailed information boards everywhere.  Even by the plants – which somehow are able to survive the reasonably arid conditions in this part of the world – had information boards!  It provided a fascinating glimpse into the past.  We both found ourselves thinking that we have it really easy compared to the lives our European ancestors lived.

My wife was particularly interested in the wine making area which dated back to the Iberian era.  As a wine lover, she wondered how our ancestors ‘came across’ wine.  Indeed, how did they work out how to make it – was it completely by accident or did someone deliberately set out to do it?  I’m not really into wine at all, but even I started to wonder if wine has always tasted the same or did it evolve over the years? I presume environmental changes and modern production methods would have some bearing on the matter – if so, is there any way that the ‘original’ taste of wines throughout the ages could be recreated?

During our time on La Illeta we came across one of the assistants talking in French to a young girl.  We presumed she was an archaeology student as she was taking copious notes whilst the assistant was going into great detail and both were taking a very close look at some of the ruins.

We really enjoyed our time there.  However, I thought that maybe even a small ‘living history’ museum near the site would have been useful.  I would have really like to seen full size mock-ups of the buildings, characters in various period costumes and maybe an audio visual display providing a history of the general area. 

La Illeta is one of the most prominent features along the El Campello coast line.  Others include a modern marina, nautical club and fish market.  Overlooking this area is La Illeta Watchtower.  It’s a very impressive and a fairly substantial defensive position dating back to the sixteenth century and built to warn against raids from Berber Pirates.  As mentioned earlier, some form of museum could provide a link between all of these features – a real delight for all history buffs and culture vultures!

La Illeta is well, well worth a visit.  However, a word to the wise – it’s surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea which provides a lovely – but deceiving – breeze.  Believe it or not it’s easy to get roasted by the sun without actually noticing it.  Our tip is to use plenty of the highest factor sun cream you can get hold of – you have been warned!

Reviewed by John Field

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Costa Blanca News

costa-blanca-news-1

Costa Blanca News. Serving the English speaking community in Spain for over 40 years.

Costa Blanca News

Costa Blanca News
TOWARDS the end of last year some of my extended family and I spent a fortnight near Allicante on the Costa Blanca. The Costa Blanca – the ‘White Coast’ – itself covers around 120 miles of beautiful Mediterranean coastline in South East Spain. It runs from from Dénia in the north to Pilar de la Horadada in the South. It’s known as Spain’s most popular year-round holiday area.

According to one popular English language web-site (1) the Costa Blanca runs “along the province of Alicante, it can be divided into two clearly distinct areas of scenery: to the North, a curtain of mountains running closely parallel to the sea, dropping away to form sheer cliffs and secluded pebble coves: to the South, a vast plain of sands, dunes, palm groves and saltpans make up a backdrop for the beaches.”

One day, and out of the blue, we decided to visit Benidorm – sometimes called the ‘Manhattan of Spain’ because of its skyline – which was about 20 odd miles away from where we were staying. As noted in an earlier review (2) of the well-known holiday resort, “I’d heard a lot about this popular holiday resort – good, bad and indifferent – and I wanted to see what it was like first hand.” However, I was disappointed with Benidorm. For me, it had “just about enough to remind us that we were in Spain.”

However, one bright spot was the number of English language papers available. I get myself into a bit of a routine when it comes to picking up local papers. As I noted sometime ago, it doesn’t matter “where the paper is from – anywhere in the English speaking world does me just fine.” (2)

Allicante, Anti-PC, Battles, Benidorm, British, Buildings, Capitalism, Castles, CB Live, Celebrations, Charities, Clubs, Costa Blanca, Costa Blanca News, Counter Culture, Cultures, Customs, Danish, Darkness, Dénia, Albert Einstein, English, Enlightenment, Exploitation, Finestrat, Governments, Gig Guide, Globalism, Harmonious, Heritage, History, Indigenous, It's All In Your Mind, Jihadis, L'Alfàs del Pi, Leftist, Liberal, Lies, Loose Women, Los Alcázares, Losing You, Rosa Luxemburg, Manhattan, Manipulation, Market Days, Karl Marx, Med TV Guide, Mediterranean, Mod/Punk, Moors and Christians Festivals, Multicultural, Oppression, Parades, Pilar de la Horadada, Politically Correct, Posers, Racism, Rotherham, Sex Abuse Gangs, Spain, Spanish, Sport, Joe Strummer, Theatre, The Brit Scene, The Clash, The Jam, The Movement, The Who, Third Millennium Fascists, Traditional, Truth, Vox Pop, War, Paul Weller, What’s On, White Coast, World, Barry Wright, You Tube

A Spanish travel guide’s map of the Costa Blanca. Because of its climate it is one of Spain’s main holiday destinations.

Probably the best paper that I came across on my visit to Benidorm was the Costa Blanca News. Produced on a weekly basis it has going for over 40 years and serves “the English speaking community in Spain.” My issue covered the period 5 – 11 September 2014. At €2 for 110 pages plus a free 32 page Med TV Guide I thought that it was fantastic value.

Like all local papers, the Costa Blanca News covers a little bit of everything – and more! I was really surprised at the number of features it carried. These included The Brit Scene, Vox Pop and Loose Women. I was also particularly impressed by the dozen or so pages devoted to both Spanish and British sporting events. And although the paper seems to be predominately centred around what’s happening in Benidorm, I was pleased to note that small towns – such as L’Alfàs del Pi, Finestrat and Los Alcázares – were also featured in a news round up.

Of great interest was the What’s On guide. It consisted of nearly 30 pages and was sub-divided into several sections including an alphabetically arranged town listing section, market days, gig guide, theatre, clubs and charities.

Two features in the Costa Blanca News stood out for me – The Brit Scene by an unnamed author and CB Live by Barry Wright. The former included an anti-PC polemic whilst the second was a look at the oh-so ‘right on’ Danish mod/punk band, The Movement. Ironically, both took what appeared to be diametrically opposing views, but I enjoyed them none-the-less!

The Brit Scene’s first two paragraphs set the scene of its anti-PC article:

“The World is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

This – or something very similar – was said by Albert Einstein and it is very significant in today’s climate of sex abuse gangs, jihadis, weak governments and the liberal pursuit of a harmonious multicultural society.”

The article expanded on these themes and in particular how the fear of being called a ‘racist’ effectively paralysed all state agencies thus allowing the Rotherham sex scandal to continue unchecked. I found much of this article very interesting – although it didn’t say anything that I didn’t know – but sadly it didn’t prescribe any cure to any of Britain’s ills.

The feature on The Movement also caught my eye. A highly political band, the trio’s musical influences include The Jam, The Who and The Clash. Politically their influences “range from Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Marx to Joe Strummer and Paul Weller.”

I enjoyed their polemic on Globalism: “There’s a new and constantly growing generation of young kids interested in political questions, expressing deep fundamental criticism and rejection of the global effects of capitalism and its mechanisms of exploitation, war and oppression – young people searching for truth and enlightenment in times of total manipulation, lies and darkness.”

Despite this The Movement offered no answer to the menace of Globalism! Are they just anti-Capitalist posers, full of ‘leftist’ empty rhetoric? (Personally, some of the most strident critiques of capitalism that I’ve read recently have come from people who’d describe themselves as ‘Third Millennium Fascists.’) Maybe they should just stick to music – check them out on YouTube, and look out for excellent tracks like Losing You and It’s All In Your Mind

When I was in Benidorm I looked out for any signs of history, heritage and culture but couldn’t find much on offer. Therefore I was intrigued to read in the Costa Blanca News about the Moors and Christians Festivals. (4) The pictures and reports looked amazing – this is something that I’ll have to see in person!

I love the various indigenous cultures of the world. Indeed, I think that articles looking at famous battles, castles, buildings, traditional parades and celebrations around the world would make an excellent mini-series for Counter Culture. Maybe we should kick off with a report of the forthcoming Moors and Christians Festival in September? Indeed, I think that I’ll use that as an excuse for visiting the Costa Blanca again! Until next time then …

O YOU can check out the web-site of Costa Blanca News here http://www.costa-news.com/ its Facebook page of here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Costa-Blanca-News/152894188104472 and follow its Twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/costablancanews
(1) http://www.in-costablanca.com/
(2) https://countercultureuk.com/2014/10/20/two-weeks-in-spain/
(3) https://countercultureuk.com/2013/10/26/majorca-daily-bulletin/
(4) http://www.travelinginspain.com/spain_festivals/moors_christian.htm

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Two Weeks in Spain!

Two Weeks In Spain!

A  crowded Benidorm beach

A crowded Benidorm beach

COMPARED to some folks I’ve not been away on many foreign holidays. Indeed, it’s only in the last few years that I’ve really managed to get abroad on a regular basis. As a youngster (which wasn’t exactly yesterday!) we’d always go on holiday in England. Hastings in East Sussex was a real favourite with my mum and dad.

My parents were reasonably interested in history, heritage and culture and I can still recall visiting the likes of Hastings Castle and Battle Abbey. We’d also walk for miles across the Fairlight Glen and take a look at the famous fishermen’s huts.

With all of this exploring to do, I couldn’t really understand why people went abroad at all. I think this attitude came from my mum. She still has a saying that goes along the lines ‘with all of our beautiful scenery, if the British Isles got the weather you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.’

I subscribed to this view for a long time. OK, we don’t get the weather, but what’s wrong with holidaying in Britain? Like my folks, I’m really into history, heritage and culture – and we have it in spades! So what if we had to endure the odd deluge that lasts all ‘Summer’?!

Now I’m much older (but sadly not any wiser!) I can see the attraction of a couple of weeks of unbroken sunshine. It does wonders for my aching muscles and bones. No wonder my grandparents began going on their annual week-long package holiday to Spain during the 1970s. They always had a great time and came back with tales of lovely weather, food and drink.

Therefore, for the last couple of years, Majorca has been our place of choice. But this year we decided to go to mainland Spain. Therefore in early September, some of my extended family and I spent a fortnight near Allicante on the Costa Blanca. The lure of sun, sea and San Miguel was just too much to resist!

Whilst staying near Allicante we decided, on a whim, to visit Benidorm for the day. I’d heard a lot about this popular holiday resort – good, bad and indifferent – and I wanted to see what it was like first hand.

Our snap decision to visit Benidorm put us at a slight disadvantage as we didn’t have any time to find out what the general area was like, look at maps or check out what was on. It meant that we didn’t know the lie of the land or what was where!

Sadly, my first impressions weren’t great. It appeared very claustrophobic – I’ve never seen so many tower blocks in one place in my life! It seemed as if the whole of the front consisted of high rise hotels that were crammed cheek by jowl together.

Whilst I’d admit that one or two large buildings are impressive – and believe me some of these buildings were very impressive – I’m not really a great fan of high rise buildings. I really feel sorry for folks who have to live in them all the time. I regard them as a ‘stack a prole’ experiment gone horribly wrong and prefer a more rural, natural and ‘human scale’ style of living. (And I know some people think that my ‘ideal’ of rural living is extremely bizarre as I’m a proud Cockney from East London!)

Benidorm also appeared very brash to me. To quote my mum again, it would be very ‘Honky Tonk.’ I presume it’s a case of what you see is what you get – something like Blackpool with sun! And talking about the sun, it reached a blistering 38 degrees on the day we visited. Maybe the extreme heat added to my discomfort?

Walking around made me realise how ‘British’ the place was. It might be an exaggeration, but along the front every other bar, café and restaurant appeared to be British (or Irish.) The flags of the ‘Home Nations’ could be seen everywhere. Accents, tattoos and football tops also gave the game away!

There were also several English language papers available – Costa Blanca News, The Weekly Buzz, RTN Benidorm and Round Town Times. No wonder so many Brits feel at home here!

One thing in Benidorm’s favour, however, was the sheer number of places where you could get a bite to eat or a drink. Some streets we wandered along just seemed to be full of outlets selling every drink and dish under the sun. The range of food and drink was impressive to say the least. One thing’s for sure – you’d never go hungry or thisty in Benidorm!

With this in mind, I can see why many folks choose it for stag and hen parties, ‘jollies’ or just going on individual benders. In fact we saw one tourist weaving along just after 1pm who looked slightly (to say the very least!) under the weather. I’m still not too sure what he was ‘under the influence’ of – but he didn’t look like he knew what country he was in, let alone what time of day it was! I wouldn’t have liked to woken up with his headache the next day.

Another thing in Benidorm’s favour was the number of shops which sold everything you could ever need. It would have probably taken a couple of weeks alone just to have a good look around the Old Town. I was also really surprised at how cheap some items were – even in what appeared to be the really ‘touristy’ areas.

Like many people we’d seen ITVs popular series Benidorm and half expected the place to be completely awash with mobility scooters! However, we didn’t see that many. We actually admired some of the double seat mobility scooters and had a good chuckle at some of the ‘driving.’ Indeed, one OAP looked like he was trying to emulate a Hells Angel on a Low Rider!

On the whole we had mixed feelings about Benidorm. To some extent, we got the impression that it was a ‘plastic’ version of Spain. However, it’s easy to see why thousands of ordinary working class Britons head there every year. The familiarity of a Full English breatfast, Ulster Fry or Fish and Chips would be a instant hit with many folks. Combine this with Priemiership football on massive TVs and ex-X Factor contestants providing entertainment in various clubs and bars and you’re onto a winner.

However, much of this was of no interest to us. We’re not fantastically into popular ‘culture’ and usually prefer the peace and quiet of rural areas. Our family is more inclinded towards true history, heritage and culture and love to see – and sample – local ways and mores. To us, Benidorm had just about enough to remind us that we were in Spain.

To be fair, I’d heard it described as Blackpool – what you see is what you get – with blistering sunshine and I think that this is a very apt description. I hope I’ve not been unduly harsh on Benidorm. I realise that you can’t judge a place in one day – and obviously there was much, much more to see. I’d like to go back sometime in the future to explore more of the area and hopefully come across the real (Spanish) Benidorm.

John Field

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