Wednesday, 10 December 2014

OMG, we went to Benidorm!

It feels like ages since I wrote a travelling blog post and checking the
Incredible carousel at Denia medieval market 
publish dates reveals that the last was almost a week ago. We had two fab days out over the weekend and I've not shared them yet!

Before we get to the headline feature, I must write about the wonderful medieval market that took place in nearby Denia over the past national holiday weekend. We drove in on the Saturday and met up there with Chris and Marta who had cycled from their campsite. Their route is flat but it's still a good 7-8 miles each way. The market took over pretty much all of the old town and consisted of dozens of stalls, decorated in a medieval style, together with dressed-up stallholders, and suitable fabric bunting strung across the narrow streets overhead. Many of the stalls were selling jewellery but there were also several with huge bowls of various dried fruits, one deliciously scented one with loose teas, some working craftspeople - a stone mason and a wood sculptor - and a blacksmith whose presentation included a metal dragon that would 'breathe' a gas jet of flame on demand. There was a quartet of wandering minstrels playing instruments including reeded recorder type things that we thought were crumhorns but later googling changed our minds to the possibility that they were Spanish hanchet shawms. The Early Music Shop website has an audio file of one - it's quite a distinctive sound! In the centre square children could get pony rides or take a turn on the incredible hand-cranked carousel pictured above. Click in to get a larger view and see all the detail. The boards around it are printed with words about or by Da Vinci and each of the seats was based on one of his inventions! The operator was able to propel the whole carousel, loaded with children, simply by pushing at one of the contraptions or by cranking a handle on the central stand. The only electrical connection was for halogen bulb lanterns which would be lit after dark so I guess, other than those lanterns, the technology could have been medieval. We saw another smaller carousel later on which had only four hanging seats and was powered by a wheel-less bicycle. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around although it did get chilly in the shaded streets. We were there until mid-afternoon by which time the more unfortunate stallholders were already looking very cold and the market wasn't due to close until half past eleven each night!

In total contrast, our Sunday excursion to Benidorm came about simply because I have never been and wanted to see if it really is as awful as the tv programme would have me believe. I forgot to check which hotel was used for filming so don't know if we actually passed it. The promenade along the beach is lovely and was packed with Spanish couples and families taking a pre-lunch stroll. The bay and built-up-ness create a great wind-free sun trap so it was several degrees warmer there than here. Some people were sunbathing while others held open-air religious services. One woman was being acosted by dozens of white pigeons but she had purchased bird seed from a nearby stall for the purpose and her son thought it very funny. We walked nearly an hour from a little marina to the end of the prom passing both the insane new Intempo building pictured below - my fear of heights would go into overdrive if we stayed in the cone - and the beautifully sparkly red trike. Dave used to have a guitar that colour. I liked the walk and we stopped for lunch in a nice bar/cafe, Taperia Botafumeiro, where Dave got adventurous and ordered cuttlefish and I had a Galician empanada. Then we continued our wander into the narrow streets of the older part of town and the atmosphere changed considerably. We had found the Brits! Most of the bars at this end of the beach were resolutely English, both in clientele and in food and drink offered, and they were packed out. It felt quite strange to suddenly be effectively in a different country when the original Spanish lifestyle continued just metres away. Bizarre place!

The maddest building
in Benidorm? 
Pretty red tricycle in Benidorm 

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