We’ll leave the tranquility to Adam and Derek this time around, as they Escaped the City DJB and I drove straight into the heart of as many as we could. With little time and a lot to do, there was an urgent need for speed. Luckily, the BMW had that covered.
Upon arriving at Malaga airport I was met by sunny skies and an open top ride that had me feeling what can only be described as gassed. We stopped off for supplies (water and Pringles) before embarking on the first part of our journey back to London. With a five hour drive to Madrid ahead of us, we got comfy, turned the sounds system’s bass up to max and put the pedal to the floor. The road trip had begun.
Arriving by car in a city is difficult, traffic is endless and parking rare. We quickly learnt that finding parking first and a hotel second was how we’d have to roll. After pulling into an underground car park we hit the jackpot at the second hotel we enquired at, Hotel Tryp Gran Via had a twin room for the night and was on a bustling street. We dumped our stuff, filled ourselves with food and some nicely priced €4 Long Island Iced Teas before venturing to Puerta Del Sol, “You will find bars, clubs and lots of ladies there,” we were told. Which we did. I shan’t divulge the details of our evening but we certainly enjoyed what was far from the classiest of locations but good fun none the less.
With a slightly sore head we drove into San Sebastian to discover that the beautiful coastal town was in the midst of a carnival. Despite the rain, hundreds of people and elaborately designed floats passed through the streets putting on an praiseworthy show. Tryp coincidentally saved us once again as we found a room at the Hotel Tryp Orly with a great view of the sea. A picturesque location that would usually be fairly quiet was partying into the night, as the children from the parade were put to bed and the adults put on a wild array of costumes with seemingly no theme. We dined at the amazing Beti Jai Berria, a contemporary dining experience in the heart of the old town, before letting our weary heads meet our pillows. We had a long day to follow.
I might have forgotten to mention that I don’t drive. Which meant that along with the days previously, the eight hour journey to Paris had DJB behind the wheel the whole way. This meant I probably got to enjoy the constantly varied scenery more than him, it’s one of the great parts of a road trip. Farm land, mountains, snowy areas and cityscapes all flew past the car, only to be left behind in an instant. The temptation to stop and shoot was always there but time was against us.
The traffic entering Paris was the worst we experienced and finding a place to stay, even if it was a prehistoric hotel, was a relief. Despite wanting to go H.A.M on our one night in the French capital, it was a Sunday. Instead we got some rest and woke early Monday morning to explore. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Paris and London, despite a very short I noticed many similarities. Two things struck me though about Paris, one was the vastness of spaces, buildings and the city as a whole, embellished from top to bottom. The other was poverty, just like in London the homeless are everywhere and it presents a stark contrast to the highly romanticised images we tend to see. With such decadence and what looked like large unoccupied spaces all over, the chasm between the rich and the poor appeared as bad, if not worse, than it is in London.
THE BMW 4 SERIES
DJB: The car was an absolute beauty both to drive and to look at, such a beauty that in Madrid we had people stopping in their tracks and bursting the vessels in their necks just to get a glimpse. Prior to embarking on our road trip I was able to sample the new BMW 2 Series for an hours or so as I drove it to the hotel from the airport. The hotel may I add was spectacular, a definite place to consider for a wedding venue in my opinion.
With it’s sleek lines and it’s black sapphire finish the 4 Series commanded the attention of onlookers not only from afar but from those who were up close too. The red interior was a definite look at me statement and really stood out against it’s black exterior. The fact that it was a convertible only added to our excitement and in the words of Aaron, this truly gassed us.
The technology onboard was more than I expected and more than anything I had driven. From heated seats and steering wheel to in car satellite navigation the car had it all. However what impressed me the most was the fact that there was a small heater placed just at the neck line on the seat which is to be used when the roof was down. You would put the heater on when driving with the roof down and it would keep the back of your neck heated just to keep you warm as driving with the roof down even in the sun can be a little chilly especially if driving at speed.
Another feature that really impressed me was the head up display. This feature displayed the speed and sat-nav when in use directly in front of my line of sight when looking straight at the windscreen. Nicely placed in the right hand corner of the screen was all the necessary information I needed thus reducing the need for me to take my eyes off the road to look for this information displayed in different parts of the car. This is one feature that I MUST have in any future car I purchase however if BMW would like to graciously donate this wonderful piece of machinery then I guess I wouldn’t have to buy a new car right (one can only dream).
Initially I was sceptical about embarking on such a challenge, I mean driving from Spain to London is a major task in itself but to do it alone having only driven in a foreign country for a couple of hours seemed just crazy. Thankfully Aaron didn’t take much convincing when I asked him to join me therefore challenge accepted. My mission was to make it back to London by Sunday leaving from Spain on the Friday however we quickly realised that we would have to add an extra day to the journey to allow us enough time to actually stop in a few of the cities, all be it for a couple of hours, to take pictures and recharge our proverbial batteries.
The journey itself was ok, there’s only so much talking you can do with one person for hours on end before you run out of things to say. Yes we talked a lot however silence became deafening at times but in a good way. Being able to sit in silence taking in the scenery without feeling the need to talk for the sake of talking just to make things less awkward was refreshing. Aaron was great company and I thank him endlessly for joining me for without him I don’t think I would have been brave enough to accept the challenge.
All in all a great experience was had and I would definitely do it again with a few revisions, there’s always room for improvement.