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Monday, 28 September 2015

Skimming the Alpine Countries



…half of them, because we didn’t manage to reach France or Monaco [did you even know that the principality is an Alpine Country?!], and I’ll write about Italy and Slovenia in future posts.
There were unexpected [pleasant] surprises, validations, expected deceptions, neutral opinions. A healthy mix of feelings present in almost every trip.
Austria was something else coming south from Slovenia, different from what I had known this country to be in my trips throughout it. Wild, beautiful, and foggy, interrupted by milder sections as we kept crossing the border with Germany back and forth. Our short and colourful lunch break in Villach lightened our spirits and helped us reach the end of our longest day on the road during our 2015 summer adventure [all the members -Andra, Iulia, and Marcel- of our rafting team will agree]. There were glimpses of a travel TV show run during my teenage years by Romanian National Television portraying the picturesque villages and small towns of Alpine Austria on my mind all day and a feeling of cool yet eternal summer.
Heading to Germany via Austria
Germany was neat and green and probably too orderly for my tastes. Wild factor to be desired. Badly. Yes, everything felt romantic, restaurants looked inviting and locals friendly. Until we stepped out of the car. There was also the incident that we were part of at an upscale hostel, where we found our bathroom door locked and were requested to pay an extra fee for some ‘en-suite’ facilities that would have been shared anyway. Does that make any sense to you? Should I also add the fact that beer came at an overcharged price in the same Bavarian location of Füssen?
Neuschwanstein Castle
Liechtenstein – it happened to me once before, with Georgia and Armenia [when I fell for Armenia although I expected it to be the other way round]. This second time, I expected Switzerland to blow my mind and become the biggest competitor of Scotland, in my heart. It didn’t [see below]. On the other hand, this small landlocked country did! Apart from the reserved locals and unfriendly prices in Vaduz, we had sunshine, we had water, we had mountains to marvel at! It seemed a condensed and much prettier version of its much larger neighbour.
Exploring Vaduz
Switzerland – this time, we drove the eastern part, from the Liechtenstein border down to the one with Italy. It was a pretty sight, don’t get me wrong, but not the wows I heard and dreamt about. Actually, the cutest thing that stayed with me from Switzerland was a top-notch toilet, in the middle of nowhere, which had all sorts of facilities and purposes, illustrating Swiss cleanliness, style, and accuracy. Lugano ended our fast passage with crazy prices [I do think that with the rising of the Swiss Franc, Norway no longer is the most expensive country in the world] and decadence.
Lake Lugano
Passing the border into Italy was bliss and the wows continued well into the night, on the magnificent shores of Lake Como. De gustibus et coloribus non disputandum.           

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