Author Archives: jeromewong

Liechtenstein and Switzerland

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.

Liechtenstein castle

Liechtenstein castle

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Austria

Crossing into Austria was uneventful, with a line on the road and a few small signs to indicate that you have actually crossed the border and now in another country.
We headed straight for Vienna as we had a few things planned there. There is a lot of fascinating history to Vienna so we decided on doing a walking tour to get the full story’s about the different attractions. There are so many beautiful buildings in town each with it’s own story. The architecture is very impressive, every building is adorned with statues on every corner or cornice. There is a real sense of pride to Vienna, everything is well kept, people are well dressed, very polite and nearly everyone speaks English. We also noticed Vienna was more multicultural than a lot of the other cities we had been through.

St Stephen's Cathedral Vienna

St Stephen’s Cathedral Vienna

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Hungary

Hungary marked a bit of a milestone for me, I had driven through Hungary about 4 years ago. Meaning that this was no longer a new road travelled, nor was the rest of our route back to the UK. It was kind of sad for me but Jess was still on new grounds so I was excited for her to see what was on offer.
It is also our entry point into Central Europe leaving behind the Balkan countries. We headed straight for Budapest which was not too far from the Romanian border. We crossed the border in the evening, this also marked the end of border checkpoints and passport checks. This was obviously easier but kind of leaves that sense of adventure behind when you practically drive over a border with out knowing it.

Budapest by night

Budapest by night

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Macedonia

Lots of muddy trails in Macedonia.

Lots of muddy trails in Macedonia.

After crossing the border from Albania the sun was beginning to set, it seemed wise to look for a campsite. Thankfully we were already on the shores of lake Ohrid. We managed to find a nice private spot amongst the trees right on the shore of the lake. The sun went down over the lake which was very still and calm.
It was a different story in the morning when we woke, the wind had picked up and it was as if we were now camped on the shores of an ocean rather than a lake. It’s a nice sound to wake up to though, waves crashing right outside your window. Continue reading

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Albania

Climbing to the mouth of the valley

Climbing to the mouth of the valley

Our original plan after Greece was to skirt along the coast of the Adriatic Sea via the Balkans. As it was late November and coming into winter we decided to have another look at the map. Both our fellow travellers Simon and Georgia, Nic and Tim had decided on a different route through Bulgaria and Romania. The reports we heard back from them were enough to entice us. Rather than heading for the coast in gloomy cold weather we geared up for the snowy mountains and the less travelled road. From northern Greece we planned on visiting a group of lakes that lie on the border of Greece, Albania and Macedonia. Making Albania the next country on our itinerary. We only needed to cross the north eastern corner of Albania to reach the lakes. A UNESCO heritage listed town called Gjirokastra was a short drive from where we were crossing the border so seemed like a logical next stop. Continue reading

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