UK-France-Belgium-Luxemburg-Germany-Switzerland-Lietchenstein-Italy-San Marino-Monaco- Spain-Andorra
As I mentioned in my first post, at Easter this year I went on a road trip in my Volvo estate with one of my best mates Chris.
- Why those countries? The aim of the trip was to visit the small European countries you would never normally have a reason to visit i.e. Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco and Andorra; Switzerland and Italy were two other countries I had previously not visited.
- Why a road trip? Driving is the easiest and most flexible way of reaching our required destinations as none of our 4 small states we intended to visit have airports (although Monaco does have a heliport!), trains couldn’t take us close enough and busses were far too timely, uncomfortable and a bit of a logistical nightmare. Added to the fact that any road trip is an interesting experience.
- Why a Volvo estate? Fuel economy, comfort and back seats which fold flat creating a space large enough for two people to lie flat in, providing free accommodation.
- How far? 2400miles in 5 days before the alternator let us down in Southern France.
Having arrived at Calais it wasn’t long before we were on Belgian soil. Renowned for both chocolate and the UN it is a key player in European business but that didn’t interest us as we were just passing through on our way to Luxembourg. However we missed a turning off the motorway on the outskirts of Brussels and it resulted in us heading towards the city centre. Due to the fact that we were using a road atlas with a scale of 1-900K it didn’t have any detail of Brussels, therefore we resorted to using a compass bearing and ploughing straight through the heart of the city, knowing we would eventually hit the ring road the other side. The impromptu city tour added about an hour onto our journey time and after that we were much more careful about looking for signs.
Luxembourg is the second least populated country in the European Union, after Malta with only 570,000 inhabitants. When we arrived we found parking towards the outskirts of Luxembourg City and meandered our way towards the centre, passing through a well-manicured public garden. We had to back-track to the car once we had reached the main square because I realised I hadn’t locked the car. Having trekked back into the centre we went and saw the royal resident before going for a coffee and play cards, at a café on the square. At least we thought it was a café; that was before we saw silver platters with lobster, crab and oysters on. I don’t tend to feel awkward but I certainly felt out of place and vastly under-dressed.
Germany is the 5th largest country by landmass in the EU but it is the most populated. Both Chris and I had previously visited Germany on a number of occasions so weren’t desperate to stop anywhere therefore we only used Germany as a transit country to Switzerland (the autobahns are far quicker than French motorways!).
A very interesting country, it is a tax haven for the wealthy, it has a long history of being a neutral country (it was a haven for Allied POWs during WWII) but that doesn’t stop it having the 4th highest gun ownership in the world (after USA and Serbia and Yemen); a staggering 45% of the country own a gun.
However none of those were the reason for our visit. Our destination was Zurich.
After parking the car we took a wander down the main shopping street where every building was occupied by a designer brand, far beyond our price bracket. We did however visit a couple of impressive churches nearby. We saw the Fraumunster church with impressive stained glass windows by Marc Chagall before going to have a look at St Peter’s church which has the largest clock face in Europe. Even both were impressive it was nothing compared to the views we witnessed whilst driving through the rest of the country.
Switzerland is worth a trip just for the driving roads.