With four hours until the return ferry left, and 45 minutes less until the supposed last possible boarding, we were cutting it fine for the three-hour journey even with the splendid German motorways. Heavy rain slowed us down, and we pulled in to the next services to put waterproofs on. Howard beckoned me over to admire a puppy in a dog carrier; when his owner returned to her car, I tried "Er ist schön, Ihre Hundchen!" (I know there are at least two things wrong with that sentence) and she told us he was a Border Terrier.
I'm not sure when we crossed into the Netherlands, but here we were following 'Hoek van Holland', then leaving the motorway in pursuit of car ferry signs. The daytime crossing felt more crowded than the overnight, since fewer passengers were occupying cabins, but we sat first on deck and then in the restaurant while I read The Good Solder Svejk (which I still haven't finished).
Land came in sight as the sun was going down, and we travelled west in deepening darkness. Howard and I said goodbye at Thurrock Services, unable to believe how much we'd done since meeting there the previous Thursday, and parted after the Dartford toll bridge, he taking the M25 lane, I the A2 for London. I got home just before ten PM, Howard a couple of hours later.
It was a brilliant holiday: three new countries, plus one I'd never visited by bike, many exciting things eaten, and some lovely riding. Howard said he liked the scenery more than anywhere else we'd been, which surprised me, since we've seen the jawdropping mountain vistas of the Alps, the rocky Dolomites, and the Italian lakes, but I knew what he meant; the rolling countryside felt consistently pleasant, and had a constantly exciting feel of foreignness without being overwhelming. It's a small country, so we felt as if we'd seen a fair bit of it, but I'd still like to go back and do some more.
Total mileage: 2443
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