Benidorm is a place of pilgrimage for those who want to let their hair down – Steve Cardownie

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The time of year is fast approaching when a dozen or so of my friends and acquaintances embark on their annual pilgrimage to the city that never sleeps, no, not the one that Frank Sinatra sang about, but the one nestling on the east coast of Spain. Benidorm beckons!

After a three-hour flight to Alicante, they will make their way by shared taxis to congregate round a couple of outside tables at the Caiman Beach bar on the seafront to discuss a plan of action. Some of them have been making the yearly trip since the late Seventies when they sought out the bars and clubs that provided Soul and Tamla Motown music, and they still frequent such venues today.

The delights that the beach and the warm sea have to offer are eschewed in favour of raucous sounds and cheap beer, with one of them telling me that he has been coming to Benidorm for more than 40 years and the only time that he has touched the sand was when he fell over the wall when making his way back to his hotel one night.

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Last year, I asked who “fancied going into the Old Town” to sample the seafood and tapas, only to be met with a response that can’t be printed in a family newspaper. Undaunted, I made my way there, and, after sampling several tapas, ended up in a wee bar I knew called “Little Coopers” which is run by an Evertonian husband and wife team. The speakers were belting out classic oldies and the clientele were doing their best to sing along, making for a great atmosphere.

For me, a walk round the Old Town is a must, as it, more than any other part of Benidorm, represents a more traditional Spanish culture which, with their food and music, combines well with the smattering of “British” style boozers and provides good value. Of course, we all pay homage to “Calle Gerona” otherwise known as “The Strip” where the majority of UK tourists find themselves at one time or another.

With countless bars and clubs in the area – including The World Famous Black Chicken, Hotel California, the Western Saloon and “Morgan’s Tavern”, which featured as “Neptunes” in the hit comedy series Benidorm – it serves up a variety of different musical offerings, all of which make for a great morning/afternoon/night out. A mention must also go to Jumping Jacks, where a fair number of Hibs strips adorn the walls.

One of our party, who I never knew took a drink until I saw him sober one day, has suggested a well-worn itinerary that has served everyone well in the past and which starts from nine in the morning and descends into chaos by mid-afternoon. Although some may be appalled that this kind of holiday programme should be attractive to some, it is worth noting that, as Smokey Robinson says, “different strokes for different folks”.

As I approach the age of 70, I will again take the opportunity to “let my hair down” (figuratively speaking of course) because, as my old man used to say, “you’re a long time deid”.

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