Travel Diary: British flags on Spanish coasts

After stepping onto a plane without a cloud in sight, nothing speeds up the holiday blues like stepping off the plane and into the pouring rain. At least my swimming shorts were put to good use one final time, a two and a half hour flight certainly makes the difference and shows how far we can now travel in such a short space of time. For that I choose to appreciate the horizontal rain hitting my face as I walk down those soaked metal steps into British summertime.

There are some places in the world that I enjoyed but probably would not travel back to. This destination was certainly one of them, it was a blast and we met some great people… why wouldn’t I go back in a hurry? There was also some very pretty scenery and can be seen in my last post here, although from the resort it was hard to take photos without the masses of heavily built up areas obscuring the view.


Of course, a concrete jungle can be an attraction within itself, New York City and São Paulo to name a couple. Benidorm doesn’t have the same effect. It isn’t of the same scale and for this the buildings do not have the same impact in my opinion. There was the odd building that caught my attention, the In Tempo for example which can be seen below. Sadly, this beautiful building has not been occupied since completion in 2014.

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Another point is that almost every building in the popular drinking resort is covered in British flags. Don’t get me wrong, seeing Union Jack bunting tied between palm trees was a fascinating sight, it is something you cannot see in the UK. It is however for me a sign that I should probably stay away, one thing I certainly do not want to see when travelling is British people blasting out Sweet Caroline on karaoke. The odd one or two is great but when Spanish accents are almost a rarity, I sometimes think why did I travel in the first place?


I went with friends, I wouldn’t go with family or girlfriend. Some sights we witnessed walking into what we though were typical pubs were too explicit to mention on here without breaking some kind of WordPress violation. For a party holiday in a home away from home it is ideal, as much as I would like to see it as anything but I really can’t!

But why should I? It didn’t seem like Benidorm tried to be anything but that. Both Spanish and British people were advertising the cheap full english breakfasts they had on offer at the same time offering us free shots, not knowing if we had just woken up or were finally heading to bed. It seems like that is the way. I remember one waitress saying how nice it was to have a group of males sit down and behave whilst having breakfast. When that is a rarity at breakfast, I would not like to see her norm…

Regardless, I am pleased I went, after all it was an experience that I wanted to have and if I told my readers I didn’t have a bunch of laughs and a great catch-up with some friends I haven’t seen for a while, I would be lying. Did I have fun? Plenty. Will I book next year? Not unless my friends did and asked me to go.

Will Benidorm always be such a resort? Even a gorgeous £72 million skyscraper built as a symbol of transformation died as the drunks stumble back to the cheap concrete hotels around it. It would take a lot of work to change it’s image, maybe one day this skyscraper will be the image of said change, with the Spanish flag rising here once again.

Why this mountain has a chunk missing 

After seeing what appears to be a huge piece of mountain missing I had to give it a Google. It seems there are some very interesting legends as to why.


‘The local version says that the French hero Roland, commander of Charlemagne’s army, became embroiled in a sword fight with the head of the Moorish army and the duel finished on the top of the mountain. At one moment in the battle the Moorish leader was flung to the ground and Roland lifted his sword, Durandarte, in order to deal his enemy a final blow. However, he missed the prostrate figure and the force of the blow cut a chunk out of the mountain, which fell into the sea. This rock is still visible as Benidorm Island and the gash that Roland made in the peak of the mountain still bears his name.’

Here is Benidorm Island from our rooftop pool. The mountain is directly behind me.


Another legend states that Roland’s lover Alda was fated to die when the last of the sun’s rays shone on her so Roldan cut out part of the mountain in order that the sun would take longer to set ensuring that Alda would live a few moments longer.

Quite beautiful and further proof if we needed any of humanities obsession with love and war.

Cars are modern horses

A sausage, bean and chese melt, the first in a couple of months as I have really tried to cut down before travelling this year. A large coffee because they ran out of regular cups and were feeling generous. This holiday is off to a flying start!


I love airports. They fascinate me. After a very stressful last minute pack I have finally made it to the airport. I am lucky enough to have a very convenient metro system that takes me from the city centre to the airport terminal doors in roughly 20 minutes. This means I can enjoy a few bevvies and not worry how much the airport parking will cost for seven days, all for £3.30.


Ports of the air, the new and quicker way to travel and unseen for centuries. Oh how lucky we are to have them. Sea ports are great and all, however one cup of coffee and a pasty would not be sufficient to fill me travelling by sea from the north of England to the south of Spain. Isn’t it amazing to be able to travel such vast distances in so little time? I would get over it but I do not want to.


Like the car is the new and improved, air conditioned horse of today, airports fill our increasing demand for travel. What is next, the space port? Vaccum-tunnel port? Whatever it is I am sure to be as excited as historical sailors would be to see the ports of today.

dd/mm/yyyy… or mm/dd/yyyy?

I fly today, 27/06/17 is finally here. That may be 06/27/17 for some readers, which has always baffled me. I find it very hard to read it this way- dd/mm/yyyy always seems like the logical approach, mm/dd/yyyy is like typing ‘United States of America, New York City, North America’… A huge mind fuck.

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Finished packing: Check.

Passport and money: Check.

Headphones: No idea where they have gone, which has really frustrated me as I take them everywhere. The cheap in flight headphones will have to be smuggled through customs, hopefully they don’t die after a weeks usage.

Skyped with my mum and convinced her I would come back alive: Check.

Booked last minute travel insurance in case the above doesn’t totally go to plan: Check.

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I always thought that the longest month I would ever have would start December 1st. As a child I remember the pure excitement of making a list, checking it twice, and waiting to see the presents in my living room come the 25th. This excitement never died as a child. As I get older this is still a day I cherish but it doesn’t have the same magic. The excitement for me is now in travelling outside of my borders to a place I haven’t been. Somewhere that I am not required to work eight+ hours a day and can dip my feet in the cool waters. It sounds so simple yet so desired by any adult I know. I am drinking alcohol at 11.45am on Tuesday, weird to so many, secretly desired by as many.

I will blog daily for the next seven days, I will not be able to engage with the WP community as much- wifi issues, additional charges and all.

What is your favorite day of the year? Mine changes often and today, it is today.

What I’ve learned not to say when I check into hotels

Yesterday I posted a quick article from my hotel room on what I have learned about hotels from working in hotel industry. Thank you to those of you who took time to like and comment! I land in Spain just after 6pm tomorrow, plenty of time to brush up on the (very, very little) Spanish I currently know.

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The post was my perspective as a guest after being the one providing the service for a number of years. I was then given the idea of posting about my perspective as the worker and my pet hates from the guests themselves- thank you to Victor over at Victor Travel Blog for suggesting. He has plenty of blog posts on many great destinations well worth a click or ten.

I guess every hospitality worker has his or her own likes and dislikes, so whether or not this is accurate across the board is up for debate. Still, I am more than happy to vent, with a hint of nostalgia along the way.

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One: Requesting ‘The Penthouse’

‘I booked a room for this evening, The Penthouse of course… Giggidy’

They didn’t book it, we never had one. Or the ‘Honeymoon Suite’, the ‘Jacuzzi room’, the ‘Top floor room’, the Nimbus 2000… presumably located behind a golden door and filled with puppies. I loved seeing the joy on guests faces when they thought their joke landed, not realising it was fifth time that day. Don’t settle for fifth place, guys.

Also If you did want it, buy it! It became increasingly more apparent that the ones paying the least, often expected the most.

Two: Expecting free upgrades for special occasions 

Okay, newlyweds are exempt from the list, as are a small number of other reasons for staying. But a birthday or anniversary, that is down to your squad, buddy. Of course we were happy to go above and beyond to make the occasion a great one, but the reason you can’t have a free upgrade or a complimentary bottle of wine is because you’re the tenth guest with a birthday today! It’s a special day for the individual but in a hotel, that is the norm. I like to think people would focus on buying these nice extras for loved ones and would not rely on a hotel to do this. I am often mistaken.

Three: Wives/girlfriends asking their husbands/boyfriends to ask me something

This one is very regular and it almost always seems to be the female, channeling her thoughts through her partner like a spirit talking through a medium. There is nothing more frustrating than having to listen to someone whisper something that you can hear into the ear of someone else that then feels inclined to ask on their behalf. You can speak to me yourself you know! I don’t know why it tends to be women more than men, I am sure there is an explanation. It fascinated me a lot.

Four: Asking for an early check in/late check out and expecting it

‘What, I can’t get one? But I emailed before I arrived!!!’

That is true, but I don’t walk into a restaurant asking for a free starter or dessert and get mad if I don’t get one. It doesn’t work like that. There isn’t a problem with asking so long as it doesn’t get perceived as some kind of privilege or birthright.

And finally: Two friends sharing a bed and demanding that I know they aren’t gay

As a straight guy, I understand that it isn’t beneficial for anyone to perceive me as anything else. That is evolution. However it is always funny to hear two people of the same gender that have booked a one bed room insist in telling me that they like each other, just not that much. That is almost as frequently heard as the Penthouse request. I share beds all the time, I don’t care and thankfully from being the one allocating rooms, realise that the staff don’t really care either.

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So there we have it, my immediate pet hates that I can think of from my time in hospitality. I am sure this differs between each department, and that I can make a list twice as long with a little more time. Hey, we are all human and I guarantee that tomorrow I will annoy the cabin crew and airport security more times than I can count before even arriving at the destination. We all have aspects of our jobs that we endure more than we would like, and we will all do this to other people. At least I can share a few jokes with the hotel staff before getting my room key, if my friends don’t embarrass me first.

 

 

 

 

Photographs change.

A dark alley. A stranger looking toward a building that is no more, another victim of the ruthless enemy of time. In the reflection, a blue sky that was previously gracing our above, the window acting as a brief time capsule into the very recent past.

Our images regularly catch things we do not. I love taking photographs when I have the slightest urge, they can be a wise investment. I sometimes learn lessons from such images, even if that was not the purpose for capturing the moment in the first place.

I love how a picture that does not change can be so different over time. A reminder that events are set in stone, imagination and realisation constantly changes.

A few things I’ve learned about hotels from working in hotels

I had an unexpected night in a hotel last night and as I sip my morning coffee, felt it was a good opportunity to talk about what I learned from hotel work. 

I spent numerous years working in hotels. I loved it, I hated it. It was relaxing and crazy. How could I be punished with 60+ hour shifts one week and a four day weekend the next? And how come a job with such low pay got me so close to celebrities? This, is the hotel trade.

Some guests genuinely have interesting names…

As I currently spend a night in one I remember what it was like to be on the other side of the desk. To be approached by an arrival claiming to be called ‘Ben Dover’ asking what the policy is for bringing prostitutes back. That kind of comedic genius. Mind you, I once checked in a businessman genuinely named Harry Potter, it’s all about spotting the trolls without infuriating the good guys.

Fear the ‘shettle’…

Once during a floor walk a housekeeper found a kettle sitting outside of a room that a stag group checked out of. She opened it to find a human dump staring back. This actually happened, and from now on I ask for a pot of boiling water from the bar to quench my thirst for tea. Flavoured tea is popular, some flavours aren’t so welcome. 

I always double lock my door

In an age of keycards you can relax knowing that the door will lock behind you after you leave, gone are the days in which we have to remember to physically lock the door after us. This doesn’t mean the door cannot be opened without some fairly simple information. To get a new key to a room we are often required to provide a name, room number, I.D or to state the address on file, although this isn’t always so strict. I’ve been given a room key by using the right name and room number, easily obtainable by listening closely to the person checking in before you. I have never heard of such a trick being used to gain access to another room, thankfully most people are good and any creeps looking to abuse such a system are often terrible at going under the radar. It is still good to be over cautious. 


A ‘do not disturb’ sign doesn’t always work

Prepare for a housekeeping invasion around 9am, they are easily the hardest working department in my eyes and like anyone, want to get the workload out of the way. Rest assured the hand squeezing through the door isn’t you dreaming of the anticipated zombie apocalypse, it’s just housekeepers eagerly wanting to swap your towels for fresh ones.

I don’t go into attack mode if something  goes wrong

As much as the unexpected 6am fire alarm wasn’t my fault, it probably wasn’t the fault of the reception staff either. As much as I want to vent it is important to remember that the staff are only human and if they are shown compassion, will probably be a lot more helpful and understanding with an understanding guest. We are emotional creatures and whether we like it or not, this impacts how a situation unfolds. Staff aren’t there to make your stay difficult, this would make hotel work very difficult indeed. A civil conversation is just as effective as anything.

I still love staying in hotels

I always thought going into the hotel industry would kill the magic, a bit like working at Disneyland but on a much smaller scale. It didn’t and if anything I appreciate the work that goes into making a stay a great one a little more. 

I do certain certain things differently now from the experienced I gained however this is not a hindrance. I’ve adopted many of the do’s and don’t at home, too. I just trust the kettle a little more. 

I hope you’re in a hotel right now and if not, very soon!

Keep your friends in high places

One of the things I will miss the most about living in Europe is the variety and diversity. There are plenty of countries within, and these countries are small compared with some of the mammoth nations some of you may reside. 

A two hour flight in any direction will almost guarantee you a different language, traditional national dish and with this, a great time.
I cannot wait for the weekend to be over and to make the most of this. In three days time I will depart northern England and with barely enough time to watch an in flight movie, land in sunny Spain. It has been a while since I have travelled short haul, it is nice to sit back and relax without the worry of what I am going to wear to get me through a 14+ hour flight. If you haven’t travelled long haul, choose comfort over style and thank me later!


My flatmate travels regularly throughout Europe with his job. I feel he is incredibly lucky. Then again he isn’t, if we see our careers as fate decided by the Sorting Hat, where does our ambition come into it? It doesn’t and like a muscle, if it isn’t used it starts to fade.
A group of us were chatting around the kitchen table two New Years Eve’s ago about the year ahead. My  travelling friend mentioned his trip to Germany for a conference amongst other trips. This caught the attention of another friend who is a pilot for a low budget airline in Europe. It turned out they were on the same scheduled flight, my pilot friend and my business travelling friend. How cool is that? The pilot insisted that he would do a call out, full name and all, claiming to have a very special passenger on board, special because he was the Duke of a town nearby. He stuck to his word and from this day on I take everything I hear from a pilot with a pinch of salt. 

It cannot imagine having a friend in the cockpit of a passenger jet I am flying in, the same friends I wouldn’t trust to hold my phone for a second. 

Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your pilots in a very good mood!

Travel Diary: Spain: 4 days to go

Today, it is all about the Euro. Many of you liked yesterdays post so I thought it would make sense to let you all in on my next few days worth of plans (or lack of), before boarding that plane to the Mediterranean.

For the record I am not taking much money to Spain. Roughly…hold up, where is the Euro symbol on my keyboard?!

*does a quick Google*

*Alt+E doesn’t work, grabs iPhone*

Roughly €500. €400 of that will be on a Travel Card, the rest you can see in cash. Now, back to the laptop.

I will probably take the least amount of money out of my friends, I don’t feel I will need as much money this time around. It is only for a week and it won’t be involving many costly activities or travel outside of the resort. I will buy cheap food, drink and the occasional taxi to and from popular districts. I also need to save £3000 for Australian customs later in the year, I have been warned that not having this amount in my bank account is enough for them to turn me away, and I don’t want to travel for 35 hours to be turned away.

It seems this isn’t often checked but that is not a risk I want to take. Sometimes in life risks are the best things we ever do, other times they are just plain silly and if anything, hinder any opportunities awaiting us. Can you imagine the awkwardness of a 35 hour flight back? I hate being rejected from a bar for being too drunk let alone an entire country.

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I have found Travel Cards to be very useful. Mine is operated by MasterCard and therefore can be used anywhere (in certain countries only) for up to three years. Any bars, restaurants, ATM’s. I was warned there would be a (grabs iPhone) €2 charge at ATM’s but with no charge for using the card directly anywhere this won’t be a problem. I would much prefer to lose a card and be able to cancel it instantly than lose a whole wad of notes with colours almost as bright as the sun. The kind of notes Hubble would be able to detect on the surface of Mars… whilst it was observing Jupiter.

Are you one to take plenty of money on a trip, or does it depend on where you are heading? I have never been one to take extortionate amounts, then again any long term travel I have done was paid for by working out there, thankfully I was paid by my current job half way through my months travel in Brazil last year. It has been a long time since I went on the typical week or two week holiday, in fact it is the first ‘lads’ holiday I have taken in my life, tradition for males in their 20’s.

27 isn’t too late, right?

The people in our pictures

People we have never met still contribute to our memories. The strangers in our photo albums, frozen timelessly into each picture. These people will never age. They will always be wearing that dress, those sunglasses. They will always be holding hands with that partner, laughing with that friend. Where are they now?

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I wonder how many people making up this crowd are still in South America today, maybe in Rio itself. Living a life that I only managed a glimpse of whilst travelling around Brazil for four weeks. I love this about travelling, that first time experience whether it be eating a forkful of new food or sipping a local traditional drink. What is new to us is all that some people may have ever known. Knowing this is true for tourists to my region has made me want to venture out as much as I can. Life is far too short to only sample our own neighbourhood, especially considering our location is purely down to chance.

What lives did the other attendees travel back to? The 78,000+ capacity stadium is three times larger than my hometown, and my hometown had plenty of stories. Many would have married and possibly had children since I snapped this crowd shot. How many people have not made it to see the day this post has went online. Even if they did not make it, their footprints did and this presence has contributed to my memories. I thank them for that.

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It is wonderful to consider the thousands of people we have preserved in time through photographs. All the emotions and behaviours present that very second… I bet there are some incredible stories hidden behind the anonymity. It is hard to see these individuals as anything but extras, obviously this couldn’t be less true. We simply don’t have the time or opportunity to hear them all. Maybe one of these people are following my blog, I could well be following them.

Even though we did not realise they brushed shoulders with us somewhere in the world, they did. Some of these people may walk right by us again someday, somewhere. How would we know? How would they know? It may take 50 years before we look at that photo again, too late to ever knowingly brush shoulders once more.

Their boat may sail before we can watch it depart, this doesn’t mean we cannot read the story they left behind for us.

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