Monday 30 May 2016

Liechtenstein and an Unplanned Italian Detour

Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Italy, 24th – 29th May 2016

The view at Eneuhur

This week we’ve stayed in three countries, it’s been a while since we’ve done that. We’ve been into Liechtenstein to visit Vaduz, made our way down through Switzerland to St. Moritz via the Julierpass, and had a little trip into northern Italy for some freeparking and for their food!

At Hergiswil it was still raining the next morning with just occasional pauses so we did some planning of where to go next and did a few jobs (Photo of that spot now added to the previous post). A fair bit of driving was done in the afternoon, passing through Luzern and many other towns and villages on our non-motorway route but progress was fine. We headed to a picnic site near Eneuhur (GPS: 47.21694 9.31710) at the end of a small road by a stream surrounded by mountains. The ticket machine was in service so we paid our 5 Fr for 12 hours, and with being after 5pm the ticket started from midnight for the next day.

Overnight parking at Vaduz stadium
Vaduz castle overlooking the city
In the morning nice weather returned and a Swiss Euromobil joined us, while I was taking some photos the chap from it asked me if we’d been here overnight and if we’d had any problems. They were having a week touring around Switzerland as they’d not seen much of their own country yet, usually going to other ones for their holidays. They never use Swiss campsites as he thinks they’re too expensive for what they are, and often dated. We got on our way to our next stop Liechtenstein, to visit the capital city Vaduz. We couldn’t tell where we got into the country as there is no formal border, we just started seeing more of their black FL registration plates on cars. We parked in the large car park next to the football stadium of the edge of town (GPS: 47.13830 9.51098, 1 hr free then 0.50 Fr/hr to max 4.50 Fr/24hr, Free weekends, Free serv. pt.) before heading into town after some lunch. Vaduz is a city due to its cathedral that was appointed in 1997, but is a small place that doesn’t take long to get around. With approximately 5000 residents it’s like a small town really. The whole country only covers about 12 km by 25 km. Language has been difficult while we’ve been in Switzerland as they use different languages, in the Alps it was French, around Interaken it was German with some variations like I noticed they use “Merci” for thank you pronounced differently to in French, then here it’s German with other variations so we’ve not known what to say.

With a map from a tourist info booth we walked to the other end of town and back through the pedestrianised area which only took minutes. With not a lot to see we went to the Liechtenstein Centre tourist information building, which in the info on our map promised “a comprehensive picture of the diversity of this small state using state-of-the-art multimedia technology”, but it turned out to just be a video playing projected on the wall behind the information desk! Looking for something else to see we followed an uphill path to a viewpoint near the castle that has views out over the town and the Rhine valley. Since 1938 the castle has been occupied by the ruling head of state for Liechtenstein which is currently Prince Hans-Adam II.

The next morning the parking only cost 2 Fr as it doesn’t charge overnight. We used the free service point before getting on our way south out of Liechtenstein passing through a pair of narrow stone arches, which were unusual as in the area between the arches there was a restaurant in a modern building and what looked like army vehicles and personnel. Maybe it was the country border. Next for us was the Julierpass peaking at 2284m where there was snow about at the sides of the road and was a scenic drive. Once in Saint Moritz we looped around looking for parking and were about to go into a barriered pay car park near the centre until we spotted the No Motorhome and No Truck symbols at the entrance. Instead we went a bit further out to one I’d seen on the way in next to the cable car, where we found the ticket machines covered and barriers removed so was free saving us 1 Fr/hr. We had a walk into town past the lakeside and then up to the centre on an undercover escalator to save a big climb. The town is full of designer shops, the majority of which were closed due to being between peak seasons, which we wandered past, looked at some expensive watches then the leaning tower.


Saint Moritz:

Overnight parking at Chiavenna

There are no places to stay cheaply around this area so we decided to nip 45km down into Italy where there was a free sosta in Camperstop at Chiavenna. Taking the Maloja Pass we wound our way down into Italy and arrived at the sosta (GPS: 46.31544 9.39663, Free inc. Serv. pt.) where there was a small fairground set up at the far end but space at the other where we parked up with two German campers. It filled up with a lot more vans during the evening that were seemingly using it as a night hault. Spotting a self-service lavanderia I checked it out finding it was very cheap at €3.50 for an 11kg and €6 for an 18kg machine, which was handy as we had some washing to do. That became our first task in the morning, using their free WiFi (which had the craziest password we’ve come across: arfarfarfarfarf…etc.) while we waited to download some podcasts.

Besides the free overnighting spots our main reason for going into Italy was to stock up on Italian food and drink. We thought we’d go to a spot we like by Lake Mezzola that we stayed at last year above Lake Como, and there’s a Lidl not too far away at Colico so that was our next stop. We ended up doing a big shop, coming away with €70 worth of ciabatta, parmesan, fresh pasta, gnocchi, streaky bacon/pancetta, risotto rice, profiteroles, ice cream, and some bottles of spumanti and prosecco.

At Novate Mezzola the free lakeside parking (GPS: 46.21039 9.45023) was much busier than last time with about five motorhomes and lots of cars but we got in the same level spot as when we were here 7 months ago. It was a very hot sunny day peaking at 30°C outside. After a nice lunch consisting of some of our fresh ciabatta and Italian ham and salami we gave the inside of the van a good clean up. Once done we went over to the waterside with our picnic blanket to relax in the sun for an hour with our books. After a round of mojitos we had a feast of more nice Italian food with meatballs and pasta washed down with a bottle of spumante and followed by profiteroles. The beach bar was open this time which it turns out is a popular place around here for Friday night partyers, the car park gradually got busier into the evening and we could hear the bass and people around outside making noise into the night. I managed to doze off but remember hearing the words of a couple of songs clearly. Jo stayed awake until 2 or 3 am and experienced the bass vibrating through the van at one point when the volume got turned up.

Following croissants for breakfast, which we’ve not had for a while due to their cost in Switzerland, we got the bikes out and had a cycle along the cycle path which is part of a network. We went so far before turning back covering 13 km. We were going to fill up on cheap LPG at the station along the road before we left but the pump wasn’t manned during the lunch period when we set off so had to leave it. We’d planned to take the Splügenpass back into Switzerland but on the approach signs warned of weight limits and a 2.3m width restriction which would be too narrow for us so we took the same route as we came in on. There were some windsurfers out on the lake at Silvaplana who were going well so I pulled in to have a look. It’s a great setting to windsurf here with the snowy mountains rising up at the sides but there is no overnight parking possible nearby, just the campsite, so we got on our way again. Passing through Chur we stopped at a spot on the outskirts of Bad Ragaz at the football ground (GPS: 47.01788 9.50317) as a stopover for the night.

This morning we looked at the books and online databases to find where to move onto but weren’t finding much in the general direction we were heading, the NW corner of Switzerland, most were at restaurants many of which were currently closed. We weren’t inspired by anything we saw, which wasn’t helped by it being a dull and drizzly day. With a coach arriving at the football ground we thought we better get moving and chose to head to Vaduz again as it’s convenient and cheap. Here this afternoon besides typing this out we’ve been for a walk across the old wooden bridge across the river into Switzerland, and along the bank where there are a series of information signs about the planets in the solar system that are set out at scaled distances along the pathway. While we were out the car park emptied and it looked like we were going to have it to ourselves tonight but a Hymer has now arrived and the German couple have just been over to ask if we’re staying the night.

Tomorrow we’re going to look for a restaurant to eat out at before we leave the country and stock up on Swiss chocolate, then it’ll be into southern Germany to the Dethleffs factory to see about getting a couple of jobs done on the van.

- Matt

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