Being a motoring journalist certainly has its pleasures – and I make a point of never forgetting that – and driving cars on locations around the world is one of them. So when the opportunity arose for me to go drive the new BMW Z4 in Alicante, south-east Spain, the prospect had obvious appeal, especially as it came just after helping to sign-off the May issue of CAR.
The downside was a four-flight, 24-hour journey to get there – from Cape Town to Johannesburg to Zurich to Barcelona to Alicante. Airports operate on a “hurry up and wait” principle, aircraft seats are not compatible with my long-legged, 1,9-metre frame, sleep is at a premium, and a diet of airline food remains a challenge to one’s constitution.
Arriving at the car’s launch base at the Expo Centre adjoining the airport, BMW had on display some of its roadsters of the past: 1934 315/1, 1937 328, 1958 507, 1991 Z1, and a 1999 Z8, along with a 1995 Z3, and the now superseded Z4 model. I was paired with fellow SA journalist Wayne Batty, and we were sent on our merry way over what proved to be one of the finest launch drives I have ever been on. Practically non-stop action for some 120 km. Brilliant. For my driving impressions you will have to look elsewhere on this cartoday.com site and read the full report in the June issue of CAR.
The point of this blog is two-fold. First is to mention a motorcycle museum – the Vall de Guadalest – that I came across in the Guadalest river valley, roughly half way between Callosa and Guadalest. The collection was very interesting, consisting of a mix of some 140 pushbikes, mopeds, street and racing motorcycles, and microcars dating from the 1920s to the 1970s, not to mention some interesting toy pedal cars. For me, though, the gem was an Alpine A108 sited right in the middle of the crowded but well-lit hall. Everything on display is in excellent condition, and entrance is a reasonable €3. A shop sells lots of models (bought a nice 1:43 1929 Alfa) and auto-related items, and there is a restaurant next door if you have the time.
Then, after an overnight stay in a Thai-style hotel – in Spain? – and another demanding drive in the hills, 24 hours and 40 minutes after arriving I was in the air for the return trip. This long was longer, due mainly to a long stopover in Zurich. As the city was a short train ride from the airport, our party decided to go there for a walkabout and have supper (rather than eating on the plane at midnight…). We came across a really cool eaterie called the Movie restaurant/bar, in Beatenplatz. Surprise, surprise, it adjoined a cinema complex – inside the décor resemble a sound stage, the menu is adhered to old, round movie reel canisters, and every quarter of an hour the lights dim, a big screen unfolds from the ceiling, and a movie trailer plays. Novel. The menu is not extensive but covers most tastes, the prices (relatively) reasonable, and the helpings large. We were lucky to get a table, such is Movie’s popularity. Suggest if you are ever in Zurich, give it a try… Back at the airport there was a minor panic because our bags had been taken from the lounge following a security alert. However, the airport police were courteous and reclaiming our luggage was no problem.
Chaos at the SAA O R Tambo check-in, but eventually received a boarding pass, got on board then sat for an hour because there was one too many passengers. Another “hard day at the office”, but the Z4 drive was worth it.