From Austria we diverted our route to Switzerland so we could pass through Liechtenstein. Which I struggle to pronounce at times. It’s only a very small country of 160km* but the richest in the world so far as the GDP goes. People have bigger backyards than this in Australia. It’s also one of the two double land locked countries in the world. Uzbekistan being the other.
The whole country is virtually situated in one valley which has the Rhine river, a motorway and train line running through the centre.
There is all sorts of controversy with the banks here too, as with Switzerland many multinational companies channel their money through the banks to avoid tax amongst other things.
Because Liechtenstein is not a member of the EU there is a border checkpoint from Austria. We were hassled about out windscreen which had been broken since Uzbekistan but we gave them the usual spiel that it had just broke and we had one on order in whatever city we were closest to at the time.
Once we were allowed in we decided to take the more scenic route to hotel we had already booked for that night in Switzerland.
First thing we noticed about Liechtenstein was how perfect everything is.
Those that have been to Austria or Switzerland probably have an idea of what I mean but Liechtenstein had stepped it up a notch. Not a spec of garbage in site, all lawns perfectly mowed, all gardens perfectly manicured everyone’s house and car also perfect. It’s almost like they are expecting royalty every day and presentation must be nothing short of impeccable. A definite sense of pride in their country.
We took a detour off the main road to climb up the side of the valley so we could get a better look of the country (can pretty much see it all once high enough). There was a nice castle overlooking the valley, we stopped to take a few shots, hung around for a bit to enjoy the view then set the GPS for our hotel in Switzerland.
We virtually drove back down the hill, crossed the main road and we were at the border with Switzerland. Switzerland is also not a member of the EU however both countries are a member of the Schengen Agreement meaning there is not border checkpoints between the two countries. It was about a half hour drive from there to our hotel the bikerloft in Quaten nestled between some very steep and rugged mountains and right on the shore of the Walensee lake. It was to be one of our last hotel stays but probably the best room we had on the whole trip. We booked on lastminute.com so it was relatively cheap but we had amazing views of the lake and surround mountains. What I liked most about it though was that you were able to ride and park your motorbike inside the hotel room! Hence the name bikerloft. Too bad we couldn’t fit the troopy in but the idea was cool none the less. The room it’s self was also really nice very open and with the bike (if you had one) as the main feature in the room.
Anyway the next day we were out early. We were running out of time to get back to the UK before Christmas so didn’t have much time to explore Switzerland. We did try to book some kind of typical alps experience like skiing, dog sled, snowmobiles or even a horse ride. It was all too expensive or there wasn’t enough snow. We were actually quite disappointed because we really wanted to try skiing. I hadn’t tried since my accident and was keen to give sit skiing a go. However every where we rung quoted us stupid prices for a day with some lessons. In the region of $300-$400 AUD which was out of the question.We decided to spend the time in Stuttgart, Germany checking out the car factories instead, much to Jess’s enjoyment.
So from the hotel we decided to take the scenic route for the German border which was only a hundred odd km away.
There was an interesting looking mountain pass on the other side of the lake that we had spotted with our trusty pocket earth app. We decided to give it a go even tough it was questionable during winter. We worked our way around the lake and slowly winded our way through the mountains. Every corner rewards you with views of the surrounding dramatic landscapes with the cow bells ringing in the distance and fresh mountain air.
We snaked and zigzagged our way up the mountain until the farm land ended and the mountain pass began. The road became much narrower and less used. A sign of things to come.
Only a kilometre or so in the snow and ice began to take over the road. We pushed on a little bit further until the ice became to much and the car began to loose traction on the slightest slope. At this point we decided we had to turn around.
We wound our way back down the mountain and decided to continue on to the Rhine falls. The largest plain waterfall in Europe. At 150m wide and 23m high you can definitely hear them roar. It was easy enough to get down to the viewing platform with a lift from the ticket office to the second lowest platform.
There have been a number of failed plans since the 1900’s to harness the power of the falls with a hydroelectric power plant. In the 40’s permission was granted however 150 000 citizens including 49 famous Swiss people signed a petition to stop the construction. Thankfully this was successful as it has now been calculated that the economic value of the falls as a tourist attraction would out weigh that of the power plant.
This was our last stop in Switzerland, we continued north for Germany where we had a hotel booked for the night in Stuttgart the home of Porsche and Mercedes Benz.