something quite exciting about aiming the lustrous prow of a magnificent
Bentley Brooklands LPT towards one of the finest tourist destinations in the
Lisbon region. The example I was driving is finished in mouth-watering
Wildberry (metallic) with beautiful Sandstone (cream) hide, piped Wildberry.
The top-roll is also finished in Wildberry with the interior completed with
matching Wildberry lambswool over rugs.
model was introduced back in 1992 as a revised version of Bentley's Mulsanne S
and Eight models. Crewe intended the Brooklands to be a less expensive
alternative to the magnificent Turbo-R without being in any way less opulent.
The Brooklands featured much the same styling as the Turbo-R but initially came
minus a turbo. However, in 1996, a low-pressure turbo (LPT) was bolted on to
the venerable V8.
through Lisbon's narrower streets in such a leviathan seemed like a daunting
prospect but the sharp handling characteristics of the Brooklands soon puts any
driver at ease. With the outside temperature gauge nudging 37C, the Bentley's
dual-level climate control was easily up to the job of cooling things down.
Rolls-Royce/Bentley air-con trumps all others because the ventilation system
can effortlessly deliver copious volumes of ice-cold air into the cabin.
Optimum temperature is swiftly achieved and thereafter silently maintained
regardless of what's going on outside. The four trademark 'bull's eye' air
vents with 'organ-stop' airflow regulators make light work of distributing
those cooling wafts. Despite the extreme heat outside, we were comfortably able
to wear long-sleeved shirts without getting in any way hot and bothered inside
the sumptuous cabin.
simply taking the motorway from Lisbon, we headed towards Mafra and Ericeira in
order to enjoy a little sightseeing along the way. The fabulous 6.75-litre low-pressure turbo V8 made for brisk progress. The slightest dab of throttle, and
the turbo kicked in without even a hint of lag, propelling the mighty thoroughbred
purposefully forward. No fuss, no drama, just honest-to-goodness grunt. It
wasn't all that long before I peeled off the dual carriageway and headed down
into historic Mafra and our first coffee stop.
I don't know
about you but I've often been caught out by those tiny medieval streets which,
as you'll know, aren't uncommon in either Spain or Portugal. Navigation systems
occasionally think that a three-foot wide pathway actually qualifies as a road!
Then (annoyingly) the sat-nav is proved right because somehow, in a manner that
defies all the natural laws of physics, there are actual cars parked off these
impossible alleys. How!?
The point is.
I'm clearly nowhere near as skilled nor as determined as those Portuguese
drivers. I'm happy to declare that there's no way on God's green earth that I
could even take a Tonka toy down such narrow alleyways let alone a
hoofing-great Bentley. The moral of the story is: If you're likely to be
driving anything wider than a horse, don't believe everything your Sat-Nav
tells you when you're in an 'old town'. Luckily, I'm now sensible enough to
live by this self-imposed ruling because I've often ended up nearly getting
small hire cars jammed up such narrow streets. I'd feel like a right ninny if I
managed to get a massive Bentley wedged!
parking spaces were both plentiful and spacious in both Mafra and Ericeira.
From Ericeira, the silver coast route towards Peniche was truly awesome and
suited the Brooklands perfectly. Effortless power made driving this route a
fabulous experience. The car happily pottered at low speeds yet when the
immense power reserve is called upon, it's there in an instant. It's
mind-blowingly abundant and never feels remotely insufficient. Peniche, Foz do
Arelho, Lagoa de Óbidos all provided magnificent ports of call before we
finally arrived in Óbidos itself.
Once upon a
time, Óbidos was owned by the Queen of Portugal. It was gifted to Queen Isabel
on her wedding day. Today, Óbidos is probably the most attractive town in
central Portugal with its traditional homes, picturesque cobbled streets, and,
of course, the charming medieval castle. Óbidos' ancient town walls (Muralhas
da cidade) surround the historic center. Whilst not for the fainthearted, the
walls can actually be walked and provide some breathtaking panoramic views of
both the town and the surrounding countryside.
Bentley Brooklands wasn't the only juicy berry in town. Absolutely not!
Ginjinha d’Obidos is a deliciously sweet beverage made by steeping luscious
dark red morello cherries in alcohol and then serving it in quirky chocolate
cups. It's a little taste of heaven, I promise you. You can have your ginjinha
with or without a whole cherry, but do be careful because the pit will be part
of an all-inclusive deal! You'll get plenty of opportunities to sample this
yummy local treat whilst wandering the ancient streets of Óbidos, amidst scenes
that have barely altered since medieval times. You've got to love Óbidos!
main street leads up to the castle and is lined with baroque-style churches,
tiny cafes, rustic restaurants and quirky shops such as the one selling some
uniquely expensive canned fish (mainly sardines). The carefully stacked cans
look like gold bullions and some are nearly as valuable! They refer to this as
a 'sardine library' and it really does have that feel about it.
recommend visiting Óbidos if you're visiting this corner of Portugal. Whilst
not as full-on as some other local destinations such as Cascais, Setubal,
Sintra or Evora; Óbidos' appeal is its unique charm.
With the big
Bentley safely moored up in a large car park near the aqueduct (Aqueduto de
Óbidos) which towers above the town's outskirts, it was time to enjoy the
ambience of this fabulous place. Óbidos makes for a great destination if you're
ever looking for a more authentic taste of Portugal. Naturally, Óbidos is far
removed from Algarvian beach resorts, especially when visiting during off-peak
times. The town offers convivial evenings spent in family-run restaurants which
serve traditional home-cooked fayre. A limited number of hotels means that
local accommodation tends to be in high demand. So, booking ahead is essential
to avoid disappointment.
After a couple
of chilled days in Óbidos - the open road beckoned. Next stop, São Martinho do
Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring.