Shops and castles. Too bad the castle is off limits.
Travelling along the Deutsches Alpenstrasse we crossed the border to Austria. In itself it was hardly noticeable but there were a few changes, such as the more variable speed limits.
The Alps, some of them snowcapped, rose up around us, peaks emerging from a layer of low cloud that dislocated them from the land. We travelled a little way along Bodensee shore; somewhere we'd probably seen looking over the lake from Germany the previous day. Eventually we drove in to the cloud and after a while, emerged the other side to see bare cliff faces topped with pines.
We quickly reached Liechtenstein, the world's 6th smallest country. Because it is not in the Schengen zone, there were armed guards at customs but they waved us through without requiring us to stop.
The road to the capital city Vaduz, took us through a flat valley floor with mountains rising up to the left, the right and ahead of us. There was a string of villages that seemed to meld into one but we shortly arrived in the capital and parked up out of town at a large stadium car park that was free as it was the weekend.
Walking in to the capital 'city' we strolled past cattle with their cow bells chiming and over a few tree lined streams. In a country only 30km long Vaduz had city status but it appeared more like a town to our eyes. Its one outstanding feature was 'His Serene Highness Prince Hans Adam II's castle perched on a cliff above the city.
We wanted to get about £50 worth of Franks out of the bank but unfortunately got muddled with the exchange rate (near enough the same as Euros) and ended up getting about £180 out :(
It didn't take us long to explore the town and we found ourselves a table outside the Engel Restaurant opposite the Rathaus. The sky was a clear blue and it was very warm in the sun. We enjoyed lunch and a glass of Liechtenstein beer. The restaurant had wifi and we were in range of the city wifi which was a welcome discovery after the connection difficulties we'd had in Germany.
On the way out of town we accidentally crossed over the Rhein (which was a beautiful aquamarine) and found ourselves in Switzerland! We hastily turned back, 3 countries in one day was quite enough so Switzerland would have to wait.
Driving into a country, it is often the on-road differences you notice first. Lichtenstein had yellow zebra crossings, horizontal as well as vertical traffic lights and black number plates with the country symbol of FL on them (the country being too small to be divided up in to regions).
There was only one Liechtenstein stopover in the Bord Atlas. Triesenberg was less than 7km away but we needed to again drive up 7 hairpin bends. We were getting worried it didn't exist as there had been no signs and the sat nav directed us off the main road onto a steep single track street. Just as we were giving up hope we saw a laminated image of a motorhome taped to a free standing letterbox. It turned out the stopover was on someone's driveway! The main road came to a dead end 9km after the stopover so it was very peaceful. We spent a quiet evening enjoying listening to donkeys eeaawing, cow bells and church bells chiming and the occasional dog barking. The sun went down early behind the tall mountains and a few hours later the moon came up surrounded by a wide arc, like a faint colourless rainbow disappearing behind the high black mountain horizon.Read more