Finding Portugal WITH THE BMW X1 XDRIVE25D | Day Two

BY Joel Tam

We cross one of Europe's longest bridges in day two of our Portugal road trip.

Photos Pedro Lopes and Shutterstock

If you haven't already read our first article, covering our first day road-tripping the west coast of Portugal from a few weeks ago, you can do so here. If you have, this second and final part will take you on a round trip back to where we started, in Lisbon.

As this article is being written, the world is facing a pandemic known as the Covid-19 virus. Travelling is the last thing on everyone’s minds and governments are preparing for lockdown, especially in Europe.

We wish everyone the best of health and can only pray that this season passes us quickly. In the meantime, we look positively toward a time when we can enjoy exploring a beautiful country like Portugal. If we all play our part, it could be a reality in the not too distant future.

It must be said that our two-day drive covered only a small part of Portugal. But as our guide put it so well, it was the section (west coast) where all the lovely bits and happening stuff are. So there, if you only have a couple of days in Portugal, you'll want to follow this story closely.

We check out of our chic little hotel, and once again, are pretty impressed with how the X1 manages to squeeze in so much stuff. One large luggage, one medium-sized carry-on, a camera bag, and a few more shopping bags. All in the truck with no need to use the space in the rear seats at all.

We're told that while our drive the day before was spent traveling across hilly towns, undulating landscapes and backroads, today's drive will be a smooth one across one of Europe's longest bridges.

The Ponte Vasco Da Gama. It is the second-longest bridge in Europe, spanning more than 17 km in length, the bridge connects Lisbon with Montijo, where we will be crossing from in our BMW X1 xDrive25d.

As we make our way, it soon becomes clear that the surroundings are truly vastly different from our earlier drive. The land is flat across all the way from the left to the right of our highway, as far as the eye can see. We're told that we're crossing over fields of rice plantations.

My small mind begins to question, "Isn't rice only grown in Southeast Asia?" Well of course (and apparently) not. The Portuguese are the largest consumers of rice in Europe and are huge exporters of rice to their neighbouring countries too.

Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful sight. But the best is yet to come.

For a driver, the best thing about exploring a country by car is to discover sights that your typical tour bus wouldn’t take you to. The Ponte Vasco Da Gama is one such place. Even if a tour bus did bring you across the bridge, you wouldn’t have the luxury of taking it at your own pace. The BMW X1 is the perfect car to do that.

The SUV’s elevated height and large windows offer crystal clear views of the Targus River, it's spectacular and serene at the same time. Traffic is light, so we take our own sweet time to soak in the wide expanse of space and savour the moment.

Before long, we find ourselves back at where we left off, along the coastline of Lisbon. We end the day with a lovely seafood meal below the Ponte 25 de Abril, a suspension bridge often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, because of the similar design and colour they share.

I'd dare say that Portugal has become my favourite country in Europe. The people are nice, the seafood is fresh and even in Lisbon, the pace is more laid back than the other European cities I've been too. It was made even more special with the lovely company and impeccable BMW models I sampled, I swear I will be back.