Part 3 of our Summer Tour of The French Alps reaches Lac de Roseland
The little country Liechtenstein is just 25 miles long by 12 miles wide, unsurprisingly, that doesn’t stop its unique charm.
Nestled between Switzerland and Austria, it has the most beautiful location, surrounded by the majestic Alps. We wanted to take a look, because not only is this Europe’s 4th smallest country, but it’s also one of the 10 smallest countries in the World!
Our drive from The Abenteuer and Allrad Show in Germany, took us through Lindau on Lake Constance, before crossing the border to Austria. Remembering to stop at the nearest fuel station for a toll sticker, or Vignette, also gave a good opportunity for a quick butty.
Soon, we found ourselves on the road again and before long the Swiss border came into sight. Now usually at a border, there’s not much going on. In fact, most borders are just a passing point as we cross from one country to another.
Well can you imagine the extra excitement we got, when a smartly dressed Swiss guard made a gesture for us to stop! Gosh, we’d never had this before we thought, as he approached the window in his gleaming uniform. In the next breath, it soon became apparent that we weren’t just going to be waved through with a quick nod.
Thankfully, Nige had popped his head out of the window ready for a chat, before he was greeted with a few short, sharp questions. Such as “where are you going?” and “where have you been?” Nothing too difficult, but doesn’t it make you nervous!
Unfortunately our reply of “not Switzerland” may not have been what he wanted to hear! So, to make amends came a polite but unnecessary explanation about how we’d just come from Germany. Followed by more ramblings of how we were heading to “Italy”. Finally, not forgetting the reason we were here at the border, was to check out the neighbouring little country of Liechtenstein first.
Gosh, how things get long winded when your’e stopped by an official with the power to turn you back! At last, with a bit of a huff and puff under his breath, probably due to our ramblings, he eventually waved us on!
Most probably he was most disappointed at the fact that we hadn’t wanted to stop in his home country!
That was it, finally we’d crossed the border into Liechtenstein, in front of what looked like a really smart town. Above the rooftops of immaculate buildings glistened dramatic mountain peaks, rising high into the sky.
We weren’t sure on the etiquette for parking overnight but we soon found out! We drove into a huge parking area next to the River Rhine, flowing though the valley floor. Thankfully, this turned out to be a coach park with overnight parking for motorhomes in addition.
Even better was clear free-flowing spring water oozing out of a fountain. We guessed it was perfectly safe to drink, but first double checked with the local “petit train” driver, who was waiting for his passengers.
Looking at us a bit weird, he confirmed in broken German, that we wouldn’t find purer water, before pointing to the mountains above.
Thank goodness, as the tanks were running low on the van which always brings a sense of panic. We noticed a dump area and toilets too, great to know even the little country of Liechtenstein was campervan-friendly.
Well what a great little place this turned out to be! It was only about 10 minutes on foot from the camper into the centre of the capital, Vaduz. It could only be described as typically Alpine with a strong hint of chic and not a scrap of litter in sight.
Strangely, there were actually quite a few tourist shops and a really good tourist office. I have no idea why, but I didn’t expect it to be such a big attraction for tourism. First I had to buy my obligatory fridge magnet, a habit or hobby that started about twenty years before. Then we set about finding a path up towards the local landmark – the castle of Vaduz.
A winding path led us up the hillside to the castle entrance. It’s not open to the public, but it has been home to Prince Franz Josef II since 1939. It’s always good to have a nosey of a princely residence, even if it is just from the pavement!
Anyhow, the views 120m above the town were rather nice and worth the effort. Before calling it a day, we grabbed a few bits of information from the really helpful lady in the tourist office. Including, some useful walking routes ready for the morning.
A little further along from where we’d parked, was a rather special attraction. This being a covered, wooden bridge spanning the River Rhine, most importantly, it’s the only wooden bridge left on the Rhine.
We stepped into the sheltered enclosure, only used by pedestrians and cyclists who can cross the 135m long bridge into no other than Switzerland!
I love a photo opportunity, so where better than having one foot in Switzerland and the other in Liechtenstein! How novel is that – a sign to mark the border between the two countries in the middle of the bridge.
With feet firmly back in the campervan, it was time to head up to the hills. Thanks to the nice lady in the tourist office, we followed her recommendations for a walking route in the mountain village of Steg.
What a treat! The van glided round the bends of the mountain before reaching the ski area and absolutely beautiful surroundings of this pretty Alpine village. The heat was on, as the temperatures were up into the 30’s, thankfully the mountain air brought some cooling breezes to our sweaty bodies.
Setting off with our picnic lunch on the 2 hour circular route was just idyllic. The views across the peaks of the little country of Liechtenstein were dreamy, whilst cattle bells sounded out from the meadows.
Before long, we came upon a tiny wooden hut. We couldn’t resist a look inside, soon, Nige was sat at the little wooden table looking out across the mountain. A log burner and logs were on hand for those needing the warmth of a fire in Winter.
A little further along the track, the path opened out across a grassy hillside meadow. Here we stopped at a large log cabin. Closed for Summer months, but obviously a bustling ski chalet in the Winter season, it was simply the most idyllic location. We stopped for a moment on a large wooden bench and dreamt of living a simple life in the mountains!
Soon, the gravel track led us further up the mountain, bringing us out onto a plateau, where a log store and campfire were set out, waiting for any hikers camping out the night. What a place to spend under the stars, Wow, how we wished we’d brought our tent!
Never mind, we still spent a good ten minutes or so pretending it was our own little private camp, Nige spending no time at all in trying out the axe that was left out to chop your own wood.
Suddenly, that mountain dreaming just got even more of a fairytale feel.
Well, it didn’t take long for us to cross the entire length of Liechtenstein. After finding our way back down to the valley floor, our journey led us through the remaining towns and countryside of this rather lovely little country of Liechtenstein.
I have to say, it was well worth a visit and one I’m sure we’ll return to at some time soon. For our trip, it was time to move on to our ultimate destination – Lake Maggiore and the start of a Summer tour across Northern Italy.
Isn’t that just the best bit about campervan travels and Europe in particular. The journey brings endless possibilities, most importantly, all we have to do is choose the route we take.