Originally, we had not planned to spend time in Holland, but plans change, and as usual, we had a great time with our new plans. Jolanda's dad Franz met us as we walked of the ferry at the Hook of Holland and took us home to Jope, who is so much like Jolanda that we felt as if we were home with Craig and Jolanda. We spent the day talking about family and friends and had a conducted tour of The Haag - Jolanda's heritage tour, and where Beth stayed when she visited. It was great to get to get a good look at the area and to learn the history as well. Franz even included a run in with the secret police when he stopped for me to take photos at the Queen's palace. I was taking pictures merrily when a car pulled up quickly, stopping us from moving and a guy leapt out of the car and started talking excitedly to Franz. We had no idea what was going on for about 5 minutes before the police explained to us what he was talking to Franz about. Evidently at one stage he wanted me to hand the camera over!!! I told Franz that he should add that to all his tours from now on !!! Later on, we drove to Andre and Iona's house, had a look around, and then all went out to a Chinese restaurant for tea, after which, Andre drove us to s'Gravendaal to Martin's house where the camper lives. It was such a lovely day, and we love Jolanda's family. Hopefully we will see them back in Australia again sometime.
Snoop's cousin Martin was also very hospitable to us. He had a room set up for us at his house, and spent the next day trying to get winter tyres and chains, for the camper, as he was concerned that the insurance wouldn't pay out if we had an accident. It was a fairly frustrating day, as we were keen to get on the road, but we were thankful that Martin was so good to us, and happy to have us stay another night. We took him out to Chinese tea that night, and managed to get the tyres fitted the next morning, and left after lunch.
Thus began our Great European Adventure. We soon discovered that travelling around Europe is not quite like around Australia. We had to stick to the motorways as when we left them, we were so slowed down by the towns, trying to squeeze between cars, navigating one way roads that ended up in roads too narrow for the van, and putting up with Sean the Irish Tom Tom man telling us to "turn around now"!! Despite the fact that the tolls are criminal on the motorways - we spent close to $500 in tolls I reckon over the next week!!!!, they are very easy to use, and you get a good view of all the surrounding countryside that you don't get on the minor roads. They also have the advantage of having an amazing number of free camping/ truck spots next to service stations so we were able to get miles under our belt each day, pulling in at about 11.00 to sleep and use the facilities. One of the interesting sights, was the number of walkways across the motorways at service stops that went from one petrol station and restaurant to another exactly the same on the other side. Some even had food, toilets and shops in the walkways, so one time we actually went to the toilet in the middle of the motorway!!!
We spent 3 1/2 days in this style, driving through France, Northern Spain (along the coast, and through the Pyrenees Mountains) and central Portugal before we left the motorway and drove the west coastal road to The Algarves area of Portugal. We entertained the locals at a market we discovered when we took a slight detour, and blought some meat and cheese. Sam was trying to find out if the meat was beef, so he made mooing noises, and they made oink noises back and everyone laughed. Quite a crowd was gathering by this stage! Wetook it a little easier the last day on the road, and did more sightseeing / detoursto see the coast.We arrived in Quarteira, on the south west coast Algarves in the dark and booked into a camping ground - glad to be off the road for a while.