The next morning, after a bread intensive breakfast, we headed out to the villa. To get out of the car park we had to pull up to a console and go through this familiar routine; lower the window, try an type in a pass code, realise that you have misjudged the distance, move a bit further forward, try again, realise you still can’t reach, open the door and try and lean a bit further, realise that the seat belt is getting in the way, undo that, half hang out, scrape your shin on the bottom of the door, finally get to touch the console and then realise that you have forgotten the access code. We did this a LOT of times today.

Once we managed to liberate the car from the car park, we began following Tom Tom’s directions. When setting it up, it made the usual announcement that the route involved toll roads. That was fine as we were used to that in Spain. In fact we were so organised this time that we even had some euro coins and a credit card ready. Spanish roads are profoundly confusing (or I am profoundly thick. Actually it might just be the latter). The same road sometimes seem to have more than one road number. What I have learned though is that if there is a P in the name it has a toll. (Just think P for pay. See quite simple really).

It wasn’t long until we reached our first toll booth. Nikki was driving and we chose our lane and pulled up. We tried to insert the credit card but it wouldn’t work. We tried and tried to no avail. Meanwhile a line of traffic is forming behind us. Eventually we decided the only thing to do was to press the button and ask for help. A few seconds later a distant voice was heard from the toll machine. Nik, being the more academic of the two os us, tried to put her GCSE Spanish (see yesterdays blog) into action and asked him something in Spanish. Now I’m all for asking people things in their native language, in fact later on in the journey we did half an hour of my “Teach yourself Spanish” audio book. I can now ask the reserve a double room. I can’t type it, but I can say it. I’m all for that, the problem is when they reply. The man at the toll booth rattled something off and I could see that none of us had any idea what was being said (although I think Karen was trying to translate it into French. Again, see yesterdays blog). Nik then took the line that the male Fenner’s adapt as their opening gambit. She asked if he spoke English.

I can’t actually remember what he said, but what Nik did do was move the care slightly forward and suddenly the machine accepted the card. All I can assume is that the toll both hadn’t recognised that there was a car there, but when we moved it did. The toll was €8.60. We had only been driving about 20 minutes!

At the next toll booth we joined a queue to pick up our next ticket for the next section of toll road. However we quickly realised that this queue was not moving. luckily we could pull out and sneak into the next booth. As we picked up our next ticket, I looked over to see a man half out of his car, grimacing from having scraped his shins, having a chat with a distant voice. He was probably English. He probably wasn’t close enough to the barrier. Idiot.

By the time we arrived at the villa (more about the villa tomorrow) we had gone through another 2 toll booths and we had spent more on tolls than our EasyJet flights to get out here. After we had checked the cupboards we headed out to the supermarket. I drove this time and within a few miles I was back on the toll road. In fact I wasn’t sure if you get actually get anywhere from this villa without incurring a toll. Nik said she could see why Catalunya was so rich, it was off the tolls.

Our next journey was off to pick up Rachel and Tibu from the train station (see yesterdays blog if you have no idea why. Let this be a warning to you, you can’t just pop into reading this blog like a Jonny come lately. There’s a narrative arc and everything). Back on the toll road again. However, Tom Tom must have been listening to me moaning as the route she chose to get us home didn’t involve any toll, and only one dirt track. These motorways are fast, but nothing quite beats taking a short cut through an olive grove and saving a few Euros to boot. Thank you Tom Tom.

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