After we got back from our trip, we started out with the highlight post from our time in Italy. Still one of my favorite Wanderlust blogs yet! Then we shared even more of our favorite memories from Milan, Cinque Terra and Pisa, Florence, Tuscany and Siena, Verona (including a photo shoot of our own!), and the Bolzano region of northern Italy.
We’re nearing the end of our trip with a couple days spent in Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. It was a little bit of a whirlwind tour, as always, but one hundred percent worth it!
Originally, we planned to spend all our time in Italy. There is so much to see that 2 weeks will only hit the tip of the iceberg!
Our Bolzano region post shares why we traded Rome for the Italian Alps. Good call, Joel! As we played around with different destinations and AirBnB locations, we realized how easy it would be to swing up through 3 more countries during our last 2 days in Europe.
Joel spent some time in the Alps when he was younger, and he’s always wanted to go back there. It was so great being able to experience that dream of his together!
Deciding on the actual itinerary was a little challenging because we’d essentially just be driving through these countries with no specific destinations. As a result, we decided to be a little less planned and a little more adventurous. We booked our AirBnBs so we’d have a place to stay, and left the rest up to our wandering!
1. The Alps are beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I’ve always heard that they were breath-taking, and they did not disappoint. Just driving through them for 2 days was such an amazing opportunity! I’m so glad we took the time to head up into the Swiss Alps.
2. Also…this area is expensive. Switzerland and Lichtenstein especially. Wowzers! Just be ready to face some sticker shock if you ever travel over there. Totally worth it, of course! It just gave us a much greater appreciation for our 10 euro pasta dishes and 1.50 lattes during our time in Italy. We collect a magnet at all of our destinations (they travel so much better than a mug!), and the cheapest one we found was 10 euros. Our frankfurters in a bun for dinner one night were 15 euros apiece. Worth it, but be prepared!
3. How to spell Liechtenstein.
4. Liechtenstein is a most fascinating little country. Neither of us knew much about it before, and we’d love to explore even further into its culture and economy. They don’t have any kind of military (I guess when you’re that small, there’s not much you can do?). Their prince lives in the palace over looking the city. Everything is super polished, modern, and wealthy. If you ever get a chance to explore this tiny little country, do it!
Our morning started off in a cute little village in northern Italy. In the early morning light, we walked into town for some breakfast before hitting the road.
We had scouted out the perfect little cafe earlier that morning. Isn’t it the cutest, all tucked away in a corner?
The apple strudel wasn’t as good as what we had at the monastery (see our Bolzano Region wanderings), but the rest of it was delicious!
Time to hit the road!
It wasn’t long at all before we crossed the border into Austria. Seeing a new country for the first time is always so exciting!!
The Italian Alps were pretty, but the mountains got better and better as we went. I thought the Austrian Alps were incredible. Then we hit the Swiss Alps and my mind was blown!
I have to caveat that a lot of these pictures were taken out of the window of a moving car. The roads were winding and there weren’t many opportunities to stop and take “real” pictures. The landscape was so beautiful that I still love them all!
The town we stopped at in Austria was Innsbruck. We’d love to go back someday! It was a quaint little town packed with cute shops, restaurants, and fascinating scenes. Innsbruck is famous for winter sports. I think they hosted the Winter Olympics at some point. Cute town that we’d recommend!
We stopped for a mid-morning brunch at a place called The Breakfast Club. We originally just stopped in for coffee, but their menu was more than we could pass up! It’s actually pretty challenging to find a “real” breakfast in Italy. Eggs and bacon are definitely not a breakfast thing there. Croissants are the norm (a lot of people just have coffee and skip the food), and yogurt is considered a filling breakfast. The Breakfast Club creates all kinds of great breakfast plates, and we found one with eggs! The free-range eggs, Tyrolean mountain cheese, organic breads, and homemade spreads were a win!
Back on the square to check out the rest of the town!
We saw this multiple places around Europe on this trip. Someone would completely cover themselves in silver and stand as still as a statue. People walk past and put money in the tip jar. It’s a fascinatingly different from our typical musician street performers. I guess it’s kind of like creating your own art, just in theatre form instead of music.
Super funny story! One of her little dogs went running off into the street, wagging his tail. People stopped to pet him with his adorable little hat! The silver lady had to get off her stand to go chase after him. She didn’t look happy about it, but the dog was having a ball!
When we get a little dog someday, he’s definitely going to have an Austrian hat.
We almost got this for Baby Palmer when he gets a little bigger. I think Joel still wishes we had! I’m not sure how the baby would have felt about it, but we loved it! Joel lived in Germany for a few years when he was really little. There’s a picture of him wearing something like this!
I mean, there was a strudel cafe!!
We read that sachertorte was a regional specialty. It’s pretty much a really dense chocolate cake with chocolate apricot filling and a thick ganache frosting. We took one to-go! We didn’t think it was really all that tasty (it’s really dry!), but it’s always worth trying it out!
We’re back on the road and headed across Austria toward Liechtenstein!
Officially crossing the border! We were a little sad that there weren’t even any border guards or anything. I hoped our passport would get a Liechtenstein stamp, but nope! Austria and Switzerland skipped the stamps, too.
We drove through this little border town on our way to Vaduz.
What a fascinating little place! We really didn’t know what to expect, but we didn’t expect to see such a modern, polished town.
The country of Liechtenstein itself is only about 30 miles long and 61 square miles total. Their economy is primarily based on banking, finance, and high-tech manufacturing. We didn’t realize this tiny country had such a high standard of living! It was really interesting to see how that played out.
The capital city of Vaduz is kept in impeccable shape. Everything is clean, modern, and a little bit square .Almost all of their shops sold expensive luxury goods. Coming from all the historic culture of Italy and Austria, Liechtenstein felt like stepping into another world.
On our hike to visit the Prince’s castle, we saw some fascinating displays of modern architecture. Definitely a modern kind of house!
The prince of Liechtenstein and his family live in this castle overlooking the capital city (and pretty much their entire country).
Of course, the castle grows its own apple trees.
Not a bad castle view!
This is the path we had to walk up and down. It’s a good thing we had those eggs that morning!
After our hike, we hit the road again and said goodbye to the fascinating little country of Liechtenstein. Just a few minutes later, we crossed the Rhine river into Switzerland.
We drove through so many tunnels on this trip that I had to post a picture of one! Some of the tunnels were over 10 miles long. I guess when you’re dealing with the Alps, just going over top of them isn’t much of an option!
We arrived at our little Swiss village AirBnB just in time to grab dinner and crash for the night.
This was our view the next morning from our AirBnB window!
After our hosts treated us to a delicious breakfast (that had fruit and yogurt to go with the pastries!), we got back in the car for our last day.
Isn’t this countryside just dreamy?
This was one of the pretties drives of my entire life. We were in the middle of nowhere Switzerland, and it was amazing.
These were the roads we were driving on. Joel loved every second!
The scenery was completely worth the crazy hairpin turns! This is one of my favorite pictures from our whole trip. It’s so raw, rugged, and absolutely perfect.
We stopped at St Mortiz for some Swiss chocolate, to find our token magnet, and to explore a more populated part of Switzerland. It reminded us more of Liechtenstein than anything we saw in Austria or Italy. Modern with hints of history, luxurious, well kept, and very expensive.
I’ve never heard of it before, but St Mortiz has a leaning tower of its own! According to them, it has a 5.5 degree tilt, which is more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
After checking out the leaning tower, we went on a hunt for some Swiss chocolate.
En route to chocolate, we passed streets filled with luxury goods. Like this 32000 franc watch. Since the franc currently exchanges for about the same as the US dollar, it’s a $32,000 watch!
But let me tell you, the chocolate did not disappoint! Like in Belgium, the authentic (be careful for the shops selling cheap imports!) chocolate is unbelievable.
After relishing every piece of chocolate, we took a quick little wander around the older part of St Mortiz with beautiful views.
We popped into their local grocery store to put together a picnic lunch of bread, cheese, meat, fruit, and vegetables. Before hitting the road back to Italy, we wandered around this gorgeous lake just on the edge of the town. The views back were pretty!
Back on the road with our picnic lunch! All the way to the border, Switzerland scenery captured our hearts. What a country!
Our last destination of the trip is the next Wanderlust on the blog! We spent the afternoon relaxing at Lake Como in Italy before driving into Milan to drop off the car and catch our flight early the next morning. Lake Como was the perfect place to rest a little bit after our whirlwind tour. Stay tuned!
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