My first guest post is from Bill - also known as @ShoutyDad and has a blog of the same name. Bill is a parent blogger but recently I seem to have discussed nothing but his inability to install Disqus on his blog (he blames everything but himself). However, he also assures me that he has five children, ranging in age from 2 to 22, he can occasionally remember their names, unless he is cross and then he just shouts random names at the wrong child - and then they laugh at him. I have chosen to start the holiday guest posts with this one because of relevance to my absence (although I'm not quite the virgin traveller). Over to Bill...
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Benidorm has had such a bad press over the years, with its pubs and fish and chip shops, yet for many Britons, myself included, it provided their first glimpse of somewhere overseas and for that reason alone I shall always think fondly of the place because the trip I took there many years ago as a callow teenager opened my eyes to a world beyond the little village where I lived and gave me a craving that has always stayed in my heart – a craving to explore other countries and a desire to sample different cultures.
True, Benidorm wasn’t exactly Bishkek or even Berlin, but the moment I stepped off the charter plane and walked down the steps onto foreign soil I felt a surge of excitement. I was abroad.
In those days, a local photographer would wait at the bottom of the steps and take pictures of each new passenger, a snapshot that would be pinned on a board in the airport at the end of your package holiday a week later and which you could buy before you checked in to fly home. I still have the picture of me, open-mouthed and wide-eyed as I took in the unexpected warmth of that February day, the smell of unfamiliar tobacco, the swarthy features of the airport staff, and the toe-curling excitement of seeing a real-life policeman carrying a gun in a holster.
The next seven days passed in a haze of joyous alienation as I tried to understand the incomprehensible, lisping language and ate as much of the ‘foreign muck’ as I could find.
While others might sneer that Benidorm is Spanish-lite, a kind of Blackpool in the sun, and focus on its similarities to Britain, I will always remember the differences and be grateful that this gaudy Mediterranean resort opened my eyes and showed me a world beyond the narrow horizons of my home village.
I arrived a virgin traveller but came home more worldly wise thanks to Benidorm. She was my first lover – and you never forget the first time.