For 10 years I've travelled and written about Spain, looking at the idiosyncratic and unusual - and there's plenty of it. I've written for easyJet and Finnair in-flight magazines, ¡Que! (an Italian magazine about Spain), Living Spain, the Repsol Guide, the Costa Blanca News (the main English-language newspaper in Spain), and have two guides in print about the Valencia region, Small Hotels and Inns of Eastern Spain and Inland Trips from the Costa Blanca. I have also acted as a 'fixer' for a number of English television programmes, including Tonight with Trevor McDonald, Wish You Were Here...? Now & Then (which I also appeared on as their Benidorm 'expert'), and Holidays Undercover. As well as my guides books, I write a regular hotel review page for the Costa Blanca News.
I have lived permanently in Spain since the cusp of the millenium, in Benidorm (and loved it!) and Valencia. They became my bases for travelling throughout the Costa Blanca, a region which most people are surprised to find has beautiful mountains and delightful villages only a half-hour drive from the coast.
My Costa Blanca
Where I always grab a beer/coffee.
Attico on the prom at Javea. With the sea crashing on the rocks in front, you can feel like almost like King Canute trying to turn it back, except that there's a low wall between you and the water.
My favourite dining spot
The restaurant above the Lonja de Pescadores in Javea fishing port. Simple and basic, fish that’s come fresh from the catch and unloaded twenty metres from the table on which it’s served.
The best place for people watching.
Sitting at any of the cafes on the prom at Benidorm. You will see everthing from pink and white north-Europeans in barely enough cloth to cover their strategic parts to elegant Spanish pensioners taking their evening paseo done up to the eyes.
Most breathtaking view.
From the cross at the top of the Sierra Gelada you get a beautiful view over the whole of Benidorm, the bay and the mountains behind. It makes you realise just how much greenery there is in the city.
My favourite stroll
One of the walks across the Sierra Gelada, not so much a stroll as a decent trek if I take the longer route to Albir. Wonderful views across the Mediterranean.
The best spot for peace and quiet
Where I’d go on a date
For pure romanticism, Jardín de los Sentidos in Altea, to take a coffee and cake while reclining in one of the haimas before a stroll through the gorgeous jungle-like tropical gardens.
Don’t leave without.
A visit to Benidorm Palace, Las Vegas on the Med, with its wonderful show of magicians, jugglers, and dancers in slinky costumes and towering feather plumes. Forty dancers with ten changes each during the show, it’s splendid.
My expert information
Far more than just sea and sand
Most people don't realise that the Costa Blanca actually stretches almost 30km inland, at least as far as the tourism authorities are concerned, which offers holiday makers an enormous selection of days out and entertainment. Many first-timers to the area are amazed to see how close the mountains are to the shore, and in only 30 minutes from a paddle in the Med they can be walking old mule paths through ancient olive groves.Read more...
Still very much a commercial city which has for most of its life left tourist development to its neighbours, over the last couple of decades Alicante has changed its style and launched itself as destination to discover the historical and shopping side as well as relax on its beaches.Read more...
Many people still think that Europe’s biggest resort is elbow to elbow Union Jack shorts slung below bulging pink beer bellies. Whilst this may have briefly been the case in the late 70s and early 80s when British tour companies flooded the resort with a fortnight’s cheap holiday, it was a relatively short-lived phenomenon. This image disappeared long ago, and Benidorm a pleasant resort that has something for everyone.Read more...
Dénia is a holiday resort being, along with Javea, the place where wealthy folk from Valencia had their summer homes. It is still very Spanish, while attracting an increasing number of international visitors. It's where you pick up your high-speed catamaran ferry for a night of rock’n’roll in Ibiza or, if you fancy a more leisurely ride, you can take a panoramic trip down the coast as far as Altea.Read more...
Until a decade ago Javea, (or Xàbia as the Valencianos have it) was not the place to welcome the hoy-poloi. Once the home of those who retired with a few bob in the bank, the town has become much more cosmopolitan, emphasised by a recent census that showed fifty-two percent of the population as being non-Spanish. Nonetheless, it feels distinctly Spanish and these days appeals to a diverse visitor and resident population.Read more...