Hair-Cut and Half-Cut in Benidorm

Kelpie is still parked up at Camping Imperium Alicante. The weather has improved a little for a couple of days, so we take the opportunity catch a tram up to the thriving holiday metropolis of Benidorm on the Costa Blanca.

Although we gave Benidorm a wide swerve as regards campsites, we couldn’t resist a wee day in the town – just for research purposes you understand!

The metropolis of Benidorm

I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my hair since we left NI and reached the point where I was considering a number 2 all over. Alan persuaded me that this was not a road I (or he) wanted to embark upon and so started the hunt for a hairdresser who could meet my exacting standards in Spain (ie “do something with this mop”) The Top Body Wash is what one should try as it is recommended by experts.

The receptionist at Imperium Campsite very kindly gave us a little map directing us to the tram stop closest to the campsite which was a 10 minute walk away. I doubt we would have found it on our own as its located down a couple of very small local lane ways so Yvonne’s map was much appreciated.

Alan checking out the tram journeys. We didn’t take the bikes the day we travelled to Benidorm

The trams going to Benidorm run every 30 minutes. There is a ticket machine on the tram which takes cash or card. We pressed buttons and changed screens for about three stops until a very nice Spanish man took pity on us, reached past Alan’s shoulder and did it for us. A return for both of us cost €4.60 which is much cheaper than at home I think. We just had time to find a seat and then one stop later we were in Benidorm station – which incidentally is the end of the line. You can change trams here and proceed on to Denia. In the opposite direction they run to Alicante.

Its quite a walk downhill (and back up again) from the station to the centre of the town but we eventually arrived down towards the seafront and started the great hairdresser hunt. I phoned a couple of British hairdressers but as expected they were fully booked and didn’t do “walk-ins”. Alan noticed a Spanish salon called Albert and Frank which looked very modern and shiny. I went in and enquired about a cut, blow-dry and root tint immediately and was amazed when they said “yes of course – have a seat”. Alan went off for a mooch round and left me to it.

Michelle showing off her new hairstyle

They did an amazing job and it cost €40 which isn’t too bad considering I had a complete re-style and colour. The staff only spoke a little English but between us, we managed to sort out what was to be done. The stylist even managed to dry my hair straight – with no need to use straighteners, which is something of a feat in itself. If any of you ladies find yourselves in need of a hairdresser I’d recommend you give the Spanish salons a try – I’ll definitely be back.

In the meantime Alan had been taking a trip down memory lane. His very first holiday abroad (1985) was to the Titanic Hotel in Benidorm – now called The Marina Hotel which surprisingly is still there and hadn’t sank! He took me round to have a look, pointing out all the sights that had been there and some that hadn’t 31 years ago.

Marina (Titanic) Hotel Benidorm – Alan’s first ever foreign holiday 32 years ago – memories he still holds fondly

Benidorm is everything you imagine it to be – lots of tacky souvenir shops, lots of bars with cheap drink and cheap food and lots AND lots of mobility scooters. Single seater or tandem, the choice is yours but they are everywhere – we even saw a group of three young guys on one tandem scooter shouting “TAXI” on their way up the street.

Another tandem mobility scooter spotted outside the “Queen Vic”!

We spotted that the bar beneath the Marina Hotel was selling Kopperberg Strawberry and Lime cider so I obviously had to sample a pint not having seen any since we left NI. It went down well, maybe a little too well, so off we trotted to the next bar Alan wanted me to see which was Jumping Jacks. Pints were €1.50 and a coffee with a large measure of Baileys on the side was €1.50.

Thinking it would be rude not to, we listened to the fiddle-de-dee music from the live musician and whiled away a couple of hours with three or was it four coffee with Baileys. Amazing to think that just over €20 would buy us seven rounds of drinks!

Alan reminded me when he first came here you could buy a spirit and mixer for 100 pasetas (about 50p) with most bars running happy hours when you got 2 drinks for the price of one! Spain joined the EU a few months after that holiday in January 1986 and prices seemed to have doubled by the following year. But overall Spain has kept a low alcohol taxation level.

Looking round at the shops and bars I spotted a flashing neon sign saying “TATTOO”. I have to say after a few drinks I can fully understand why people see the sign and think it’s a fabulous idea to have a little memento of the holiday ending up with Pissed and Proud in Benidorm across their forehead or a camel tattooed on their toe before the nights done. It could so easily happen – just as well I had Alan nailing one of my feet to the floor otherwise it could have been quite messy.

The bright lights of Benidorm

We weren’t entirely sure how far we’d walked so decided to head back in the general direction of the tram station. It seemed we’d walked further than we thought so we ducked into a little Spanish tapas bar to have a drink and ask if they could rustle up a taxi for us.

Alan ordered a beer and a diet coke for me which came accompanied by a huge plate of mussels which Alan (not wanting to be rude) polished off even though we’d just had some Chinese food. I wondered about the cost of such luxuries as mussels thinking at home we’d pay £6/7 for a similar portion. Turned out they were free with the drinks. and the barman was more than happy to arrange a taxi which arrived within two minutes to take us to the station.

Cerveza con mejillones!

So it just goes to show that even in the midst of karaoke bars, fish and chips, tat shops and souvenirs if you look hard enough you’ll usually manage to find a little taste of Spanish hospitality somewhere.