Monday, April 16, 2012

Holland Trip: Day 1 Traveling to Holland

Given the options of places to go for spring break, the kids were sold on Duinrell (check out the video on this page to get a better idea of what hooked the kids).

Ray's Pre-trip Journal:

What a stressor getting ready for a week vacation can be! We need a vacation just from our vacation preps. I’ve been working too hard again and Angie has done all the research. I hate leaving her that way. Then, as always with me, I am packing at the last minute and the rest of family is watching what I pack in order to know what they should have packed (and throwing in last minute items to already under packed baggage.

Angie's Journal:
We started our trip driving to Dover to hit the Dover-Calais ferry. We made such good time that we arrived 2 hours early. Luckily we were able to get on the earlier ferry, which was overcrowded. We hadn't used this ferry company before, so I was very disappointed in the ship. The last time we took the Dover-Calais ferry there was plenty of seats, a nice cafeteria, and a play room for Misty. This company offered a coffee shop with prepackaged sandwiches, and we ended up sitting on the floor because there was no seats. Needless to say, I was not impressed but the previous company went bankrupt (I believe over labor union disputes). Thankfully the ferry ride isn't long, so we were off to continue our journey to the Netherlands in no time. Our road trip had us going from Calais, France through Belgium, and then onto the Netherlands. We were anxiously awaiting the Belgium boarder because we wanted to get our passports stamped when we came across this sign along with a sign we believe said Welcome to Belgium.

Apparently, the whole EU deal means the took down all their boarders. So much for getting stamps in our passport. We discussed at length were we might be able to get one, but we really just wanted to get to Holland in time to unpack and have a nice dinner. 

Sign reads: Nederland as we enter The Netherlands
Since we had booked late (i.e. not 6 months in advance), accommodations where limited since we were going on Spring Break. We've been warned that all of Europe takes their breaks at the same time, so places get booked up quickly. Anyways, we had the option of "Glamping" which is kind of a new idea we learned about when we moved here. It is camping with style, or so they claim. Basically you get a huge tent that has rooms with beds in it. You get a small living area and an equipped camp kitchen.

Neil took some lovely pictures of the inside of the tent to give you guys an idea.

Lexi's Room

Neil's Room
Master Bedroom
The black thing in the right hand corner is a wardrobe to store your clothes. 

Common Area
We were able to bring in chairs from the outside so we all had a place to sit down. 

The camp kitchen had plenty of storage and kitchen supplies, as well as a mini fridge.

The place we were staying had a grocery store and multiple restaurants. We decided to splurge on an Italian buffet, but we saved some money by only paying for one hour. All the buffets we found charged us based on the time we planned to stay. It seems silly, but most Europeans take about 2 hours to eat dinner. Honestly I don't get it because the Europeans have much smaller portions than us Americans, so I couldn't imagine they eat more...they just eat slower. 

Ray's Journal:

After a short trip down to the coast (ahhh Dover and her white cliffs! what a great starting point, as we learned on the trip to Normandy) we find ourselves running 2 hours early. But the ferryman is understanding and doesn’t want a crying baby to wait 2 hours to load a boat, so he issues us tickets to the very next ferry! What nice people!

The ferry ride over to Calais is as unremarkable as the last time, but still a very nice way to spend time with the family. Angie is still wound up from the preparations yesterday and is stressed so everything bothers her. We have to sit on the floor to eat lunch because the ferry is totally booked and they don’t have enough chairs for a normal booking.
A few minutes in the French countryside and she is feeling better. Then we cross the Belgium border well before any of us expected and she is more relaxed still. The weather starts improving and it looks like all will be well. Unfortunately, my lack of sleep the last few days has caught up with us and Angie must drive for an hour while I nap.
We arrive at camp and get checked in. The nicest people are all working their first day of “Camp duty”. We get shown to our campsite by a lady on bicycle. Its a nice enough camp and very quiet.

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