We got back from our Quick Euro Roadtrip a couple of weeks ago and it’s time to share what we did. We had an awesome time, which had a lot to do with everything running smoothly especially after the weather at home almost made the trip not happen.
Our trip, which only came about due to an amazing airfare to Milan was saved thanks to Wideroe chat which helped us change our flight to leave a day earlier than originally planned.
The flight (in coach) was comfortable enough except for the feeling of knees in my back from the passenger behind me a bunch of times. Kim seemed to have the same problem too. Lucas did great. Other then getting a bit fidgety sitting in his seat (in his CARES harness) while the plane was stuck at the gate for a bit longer than expected, he enjoyed the flight and slept most of the time. Otherwise, the flight wasn’t memorable besides catching an excellent movie- Captain Phillips
When we arrived in Milan our first order of business was picking up our lux ride for the trip. I was happy to see that the car I was hoping to get was available.
The Fiat 500L was the perfect size car for this trip. For a family of 3, we had ample room in the trunk for our large backpacks (60L) and my daypack. We could’ve probably squeezed Lucas’ stroller in too but it was much easier just sticking it in the backseat.
The 500L is a relatively small car but it has lots of interior space. The roads we were driving on at the beginning of the trip (in Italy) were extremely tight and windy so I’m not sure that we would’ve made it out safely in a much larger vehicle.
(While on the topic of rental cars, vote in my poll- What’s the Worst Place To Drive In the World.)
Our first destination was Lake Como, Italy- a new region of Italy for Kim and I, a new country for Lucas to visit.
We used our extra time to find our Airbnb room in the village of Cernobbio. This was a mission in itself due to the GPS not being of much use once we got closer to the area. We had directions printed out from our host which were a bit confusing.
After driving up roads which were ridculously narrow, steep and winding, we now had to find the room itself. (I don’t think I mentioned that it was also raining to add to the fun!) We didn’t know that you couldn’t drive right up to the door so we went past the small square that it was closest to around 4-5 times. At one point we kept going up an even narrower road which was more or less a dead-end. Making a 3 point turn to get back took quite a bit of effort! Luckily we found a local women walking in the area that finally pointed us in the right direction.
During our visit to the Lake Como region, we stopped in Como briefly to see the Duomo, took the funicular up from Como up to Brunate for some amazing views and spent some time in Menaggio. Menaggio is located on Lake Como and has amazing views as well. We spent some time walking along the nice promenade. We then wandered up steep and narrow alleys (through the remnants of the old castle) to see the homes now built into it.
It was nice to check out another part of Italy but when I look back on our visit, driving on these crazy roads is what stands out most!
Getting to Liechtenstein from Lake Como took us through the Swiss Alps. For the majority of the way, driving was done on well maintained 2 lane roads. The only problem with the road was the fact that one slow driver (or 18 wheeler truck in our case), could slow you down quite a bit! Along the drive the scenery was spectacular. We passed small villages and towns, some of which had remains of old castles.
FYI- It’s good to know in advance that once you enter Switzerland a window sticker/ permit is required to drive there. You must pick it up at a gas station once you enter the country. The sticker is quite expensive since you are stuck paying the yearly fee for even a short amount of time using the roads. The sticker costs 40 Swiss Francs- about $45 US.
The highlight of this trip was getting to the tiny country of Liechtenstein. Are there tons of amazing sites to see? No. Would I recommend a visit if you haven’t done much travel? No. Did we really enjoy our visit? YES!
Liechtenstein is so tiny that we could drive to just about any area from another in around 20-30 minutes.
During our visit we checked out a few castles. Two of them we only saw from the outside- the Prince of Liechtenstein lives in Vaduz Castle and Gutenberg Castle is high up on a hill so we didn’t feel like going up. The castle ruins in Schellenberg were interesting to wander around and Lucas had fun checking it out. We were also surprised to see some (like 5) other visitors there.
We really enjoyed the small but well done Liechtenstein National Museum in Vaduz. Our favorite part of the museum was the large taxidermy collection showing the wildlife from the country.
Just a minute walk in either direction is the Postage Stamp Museum (interesting to check out since it is free and stamp collecting is very popular in Liechtenstein) and the Government and Parliament Buildings.
We also took a drive up to the ski resort area of Malbun. It was extremely windy and we probably headed there too late in the day. We didn’t really see anyone skiing but the mountain views were nice to see.
Find out more about Liechtenstein in a future post.
Since none of us had been to Switzerland we picked an area to stop at while we drove through, so we could really say we’ve visited the country. Driving for hours through the alps is an experience in itself but I still had to stop to walk around.
During our research we came across the city of Bellinzona which ended up being the perfect place to stop. The three castles of Bellinzona were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and didn’t disappoint. While visiting, Lucas even started saying “castle”, it makes sense since we did see quite a few during the trip!
Besides seeing the castles we didn’t do much else besides stopping for lunch and buying some Swiss chocolates at a market.
I plan to write and post some pictures of the castles of Bellinzona in a future post.
With our rental car due back at 4PM I wanted to get a little more use out of it. Rather than head into Milan (we’ll be back in April), for our last day we looked for somewhere to visit within an hour’s drive worthy of checking out.
I soon discovered a very interesting model village called Crespi d’Adda, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995.
Crespi d’Adda was built in the late 1800 to house workers of a cotton factory. The town has a huge factory which closed in 2004, a castle which used to be home to the Crespi family, row upon row of workers homes (most still occupied), a church, school and cemetery.
When we first arrived it had an eerie feeling in the air with few people walking around. The town seemed deserted and would probably be a great place to shoot scenes for The Walking Dead!
We did end up seeing others walking around, although I do believe that we were the only 3 there visiting as tourists.
I plan to write a post with lots of photos of Crespi d’Adda.
Well that’s the recap for our Quick Euro Roadtrip. This was a very successful trip with our plans being executed almost perfectly. It wasn’t the typical kind of European adventure we are used to but it was a lot of fun and we got to see some great things along the way.