“Pack your bags, James. You’re going to Portugal”. This seemed an odd way to tell me that I was being relocated, but as a true blue Englishman, I took it on the chin. Fortunately I‘d only packed up half my desk before a clearer picture was painted.
News that Mini’s all-new Roadster was to make its performance debut affront a baying mob of media representatives received the full parade of bells and whistles. This car, after all, was the de-roofed version of Mini’s controversial Coupe, so clearly had to do the business. And where better to demonstrate its sporty nature than on Portugal’s sun-kissed winding roads. Once again, crankandpiston’s newboy was off on another adventure.
The 8340km, nine-hour journey to Lisbon began (very) early on Friday morning. Forward planning has never been my forte, and twenty minutes before setting off, my travel bag was still empty. But come midnight I was whistling my way to Dubai International Airport, where I would meet up with my three fellow press invitees and our delightful BMW representative.
Best-laid plans have a tendency to fall flat though. It turns out there were no direct routes from Dubai to Lisbon, and our 2am roundhouse flight to Zurich had already been delayed by adverse weather.
Still, this did give us the chance to sample life in the business lounge while we waited. A couple of coffees plus the occasional vol-au-vent helped keep us alert, while some of our fellow-Zurich bound travellers decided to catch some zzzs.
By 4.30am our Swiss Airlines airbus had left the tarmac and was hurtling through the clouds in an attempt to make up for lost time.
With each passing episode of How I Met Your Mother on the plane’s in-built entertainment system, my seat back was getting less and less vertical, until I finally gave up the fight at 5.30am and closed my weary eyes.
We were in for a shock upon landing in Zurich. Lower temperatures we had expected, but not snow. Hats, gloves and winter coats that had been brought ‘just in case’ were suddenly a la mode.