Posts Tagged ‘hotel’

Surviving the Blackpool Experience

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Many places in the UK and the people who live in them have reputations that precede them. Cambridge is toffy-nosed, Essex is orange, no one cares about you in London and it’s best not to admit to being from anywhere even remotely close to Wales. When I told people that I was going to Blackpool, I received a lot of raised eye brows, “Why are you going there?”s, and a few bemused smiles. I also had people becoming very excited, telling me to go to certain places and saying they wished they were going. These mixed responses meant that I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. My excitement levels grew – Blackpool here we come!

Honestly, I knew I was going to hate it. I am ultimately a snob and love white table cloths and multiple wine glasses on tables. I don’t like theme parks, I hate going on rides (except for bumper cars) and I really, really can’t stand overpriced novelty items that glow. So keeping that in mind, imagine my joy when I got to Blackpool and found a mile long road lined with rides, theme parks, and shops selling novelty gifts, many of which involved lights. Welcome to Blackpool.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Sir Pubert Gladstone and I had booked ourselves into one of Blackpool’s many el-cheapo B&Bs. It was difficult to differentiate between the very similar looking hotel options, but we ended up going for cheap, clean, decent reviews and with breakfast and parking included. At first I thought it was silly of us to pay an extra £2 for breakfast to be included, but having now visited Blackpool and seen the restaurant/cafe options in town, I am quite pleased with our decision. £1 each for some toast, orange juice and Kellogg’s cereal was definitely a good call.

Blackpool hotel room

Romance.

We checked into our hotel and having left our bags in our black and white themed ‘Love’ room, we headed off to see the sites with a mixed sense of trepidation and excitement. What wonders would await us?

Blackpool’s main promenade runs along the beachfront. I think they were going for the Los Angeles Boulevard look with the following features:

  • a wide footpath that just cries out for rollerbladers in hot pants
  • a tram line with various novelty trams carrying people from pier to pier (according to Jon, Blackpool has done some significant work on making their trams energy efficient so big ups to them and thank you, Jon, for that incredible fact.)
  • a very long road, that during the winter months is heavily decorated with company sponsored fairy lights
  • an endless row of fish and chip shops, tourist gifts, casinos, palm readers, whacky mirrors, doughnut carts, Mr Whippy vendors and haunted houses. Madame Tussauds was there, as was Mr Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

As we walked down the main drag, my mood towards the wonder that is Blackpool changed from “Wow!” to “Is this real?” to “More light sabers?” to “Can we go home now?”. I think we both contemplated leaving and returning to Manchester within the first 30 minutes of being there. But we were determined to experience Blackpool and see why thousands of people flock to this seaside village every year for their family holidays and to learn what makes it such a great location for a hen’s/buck’s party.

Blackpool tower

Blackpool tower.

So we bought some fish and chips. And they were good – I even managed to enjoy the mushy peas. Clearly they know how to make not-disgusting green slop in Blackpool. We then decided to join in the party and went to a bar for some drinks. Our original thought of doing a mini-pub crawl turned into us staying in the same bar all night as the entertainment was far good to leave. We watched as themed t-shirted buck’s parties stumbled over to sash bearing hen’s groups to try out their moves.

We managed to stay out until midnight and our walk back to the hotel was quiet with all of the shops closed for the night. We are clearly are more made for the Blackpool party scene than we realised. As we wandered back, I ventured down on to the beach to look at the tide that had gone far out to sea. It was beautiful listening to the sound of the waves and being hit by the warm autumn winds off the sea. Nothing beats fresh ocean air and Blackpool had plenty of it. It is just a shame that the rest of the town is run down, tired and lacking the money to do anything about it.

Blackpool beach

Out to sea.

Blackpool clearly brings enjoyment to many people’s lives and I know that most of the reason why I wouldn’t choose to go back is because it just isn’t my cup of tea. I would never choose to spend my money and time at a theme park and on carnival food but I know these things bring great pleasure to a lot of people. So it just good that everyone is different, isn’t it?

We did have a win at the casinos though. Along the main drag are countless games rooms with slot machines, hand-grabbing-soft-toys machines, and those games where you try and knock hundreds of 2p coins out by inserting your own 2p coin at exactly the right moment. Occasionally, random coins will tip over the edge for no reason other than gravity and what I can only presume is some sort of ‘higher power’. Over our less than 24 hours in Blackpool, we made a total of 38p by walking past all of these machines and finding coins that had fallen out. WINNERS!

So our time in Blackpool wasn’t wasted. We saw the sights, discovered what Blackpool was all about, met some locals, had decent fish and chips and won 38p. I don’t plan on ever going back, but if you like flashing lights, roller coasters and cheap B&Bs, then come to Blackpool. They do a good mushy peas.

Hotel sign

We came as guests but I don’t think we’re friends.

Madrid Part 3

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The People

The staff in restaurants were always very friendly and helpful and joked about our lack of Spanish speaking abilities. The first night though I think we managed to find every single grumpy Madridian. No one seemed happy to serve the stupid tourists and we thought we’d be doomed for the entire trip. Until the next morning we had breakfast at the bar next to our hotel and were served by a welcoming and friendly young guy. His name was Junior and he spent time each morning teaching us Spanish. He was 27, worried about turning 28, married and showed us photos of his son. He started the trend for friendly Spanish people who looked after us, gave us good food and even gave us free drinks. I wanted to give everyone hugs.

Our hotel was run by a lovely, short Spanish lady who must have lived in the apartment block where the hotel was located. She spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish yet we managed to understand each other. She insisted on carrying our bag to our room before giving us a map, explaining the three different keys we needed to get into our room and then leaving us to enjoy the city. The hotel was great – Coup found it on Hostelbookers for just 20 Euros a night for private rooms with ensuites. The hotel was located in the centre of town, close to everything, and was situated in a dodgy looking apartment complex that had weird looking people living in it. The room was tiny but amazingly clean and despite having walls as thin as paper we managed to sleep like babies.

Mid-Travel Catch Up

Monday, April 18th, 2011

I have about ten spare minutes to write this as I eat my breakfast and drink my morning cup of tea. In 1 hour and 17 minutes my train for Saarbrucken leaves, which will then connect me to another train to Koblenz. Last night we arrived home from our weekend away in Lyon at 10.30pm and finally got to sleep after unpacking and repacking and sorting out train tickets at around 1am. Tom is already on his train as we had to book different trains in order to get the cheapest tickets. Ahh… the joys of travel.

Lyon was great – we had ate some awesome food, saw some awesome things and climbed some awesome stairs. You could say Lyon was awesome. Our hotel was less awesome – it was clean and well located and relatively cheap (all good things) but the place seemed to be a long stay apartment complex for some slightly odd elderly people who stood in the foyer arguing with the staff. On Sunday when we went to check out there was no one at the front desk and then after we’d handed in our keys and were about to leave, we happened to read a small notice by the lift that indicated you needed to clean the dishes and remove the rubbish (ie. empty the bin) from your room before you left otherwise you would be charged 30 Euros for each offence. When we’d checked in, the girl had briefly requested that if we cooked in the room and had smelly rubbish in the bin if we could please put it in the garbage bin outside, but nothing suggesting we’d be charge 30 Euros for not doing so. Anyway, that last day, the place just became stranger and stranger and we were quite glad to leave.

But none of us really wanted to leave Lyon – it has a young and exciting atmosphere as it is a university town and so there is a lot happening. There are amazing old buildings scattered throughout and the old town is on a vertical incline that required excellent thigh muscles to ascend. We saw Roman ruins dating back to 40 BC where Coup hopes to go back to in order to see a band perform on his birthday. Yes, bands perform on Roman ruins in Lyon. Amazing.

Anyway, time is ticking and trains are approaching. Time to finish packing and head off. Back Thursday.