We started in Germany and made our way through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Czech and finally back into Germany. Here’s how we did it.
We started by planning all our hotels out in advance. It takes away some of your flexibility, but traveling with 10 people can be a bit over whelming to hotels. Not only that, it took us up to an hour to find a place we all wanted to eat, I can’t imagine having to waste time trying to find a place to sleep at the end of every day. Planning ahead was a good thing.
We drove through Switzerland. We heard it was crazy expensive, so staying there was out of the question. We did stop in Zurich. We really had no idea where we were going, but I had downloaded Pocket Earth on my iPhone. It gives me maps that I can use offline. I found Altstadt (old town) Zurich and picked a street and entered it into our GPS and just let it guide us in. Parking is really tough in the Old town area, but we managed to find 2 spots.
I loved how the streets in Zurich were very narrow and very hilly. Every street seemed to go up or down, not many were level. The shops were crazy expensive, as was the food. Then we stumbled upon this restaurant, Ass Bar – frisch von gestern (Fresh from yesterday). We didn’t eat there, but the prices were great if you don’t mind day old food.
After wandering the town and taking it all in, we hit the road. Our final stop that night would be Liechtenstein. It was a little bit cheaper once we got out of Switzerland, but not much. Oh and by the way Switzerland does NOT use the Euro. They accept Euros, but they give back all change in their Swiss Franc.
As we entered Lichtenstein there were huge mountains. Not sure if they are considered the Alps, but big like the Alps. Rolling green and beautiful. I knew our hotel had a view, but it wasn’t until we drove nearly 2 miles, switchback roads, nearly to the top that I realized where our hotel was. The view was outstanding and Hotel Kulm became a favorite stay for many. Although this was a more expensive hotel, it was the only one on the trip that came with a breakfast and it was a great, traditional, Germany breakfast.
From there we made our way to Garmisch. This was one of our most favorite cities we vacationed to when we lived in Germany. When we arrived it was snowing. Not only could we not walk up to Neuschwanstein Castle (which is about 30 minutes outside of Garmisch), but we couldn’t see the Alps once we got to Garmisch. This was one of the saddest days of our trips. This was the one day it would have been nice not have reservations along the way, because we would have stayed another day. By morning the Zugspitz (the highest Alp in Germnay) tried to show itself, but then we were on the road again.
Even though there was snow predicted we made our way to Salzburg, Austria. I had never been here before. It wasn’t all that far from where we used to live and after we entered the city I couldn’t believe we had never made our way to Salzburg. Once you are in Old Town it doesn’t matter which way you look, there is something to see in every direction. I was awe struck for sure.
We just wandered and enjoyed the old town, knowing that we would make our way up to the castle. You can walk up to the castle, which was 7 Euros or ride the tram for 10 Euros. There was a storm coming so we chose the quickest way with the quickest escape…the tram. The castle, even though not beautiful, had many beautiful things going on once you walked around. The thing that cracked me up the most was that the castle had WiFi. I guess people need to tweet from up there. The price of the ticket allows you entry into the castle and a museum within it.
I do wish we had more time to experience Salzburg. The biggest reason we left so soon was that they weather was turning quickly and we were starting to freeze. We had more ground to cover, so it was fine that we moved on.
We ended our day in Linz. We had 4 hotel rooms. Ours was fine with a big room and a small bathroom. One room had no toilet, but a shower in the middle of the room and a sink. Another room had a curtained in shower in a dark corner. The last room was really big, and had a HUGE bathroom. But the room had tons of wood and they said it really stunk. I guess we lucked out with the best room that night.
We wandered around Linz, all the way to the river. It had many big churches and lots of shopping. I guess we never got into the right area, because I wasn’t all that impressed. Still it was a perfect stopping place.
The biggest reason we pushed so hard to go through so many countries was we wanted to spend some time in Prague, that’s where we were headed. After we left Linz we made our way to Prague via Cesky Krumlov. You can read all about Cesky Krumlov here. Such a sweet place.
After we left Prague we made our way to Rothenburg, the walled in city along the Romantic Road. This is another town we had visited years ago when we lived in Germany, but this time we stayed inside the wall in an apartment. I loved the small town after spending 2 days in Prague. Rothenburg is very quaint, very cozy and a town I could spend more time in. You can nearly walk the whole wall, which is really cool to do. There is also a garden that was really nice to walk through. I’m sure it’s very pretty in the summer time. It was just starting to bloom when we were there.
From there we made our way to Stuttgart, to the airport. We did get caught in Friday traffic, so we chose a small town we saw on our GPS and pulled over. This town was different than any other towns we had seen all trip. That’s what I love about Germany. The towns are so different. We ate our best meal of our trip here. We pretty much ended on a high note in Leonburg.
What we discovered as we traveled
- Austria and Czech had the cheapest gas. Once we figured that out we made sure to gas up whenever we could. We were driving a midsize Mercedes and it was costing us $105 US to gas up. We figured in the 12 days we were there we gassed up 5 times. We were prepared for that. We chose a driving vacation.
- We used Booking.com for most of our reservations and everything was perfect. Never had an issue. We also saw that we did save money using them.
- A GPS for driving vacations is a must. Not sure how we got around 20 years ago. I guess we always had a big ol map.
- Even though it looked like a good idea, it was a lot of driving. Definitely needed less driving time and more exploring time.