Hello world! It’s certainly been a long time! I have been busy with a promotion at work (#bosslady), traveling, and life! But I wanted to take the time to share some adventures I’ve had since I last posted. I have had some truly incredible journeys!
In this post, I’ll be highlighting my experience road tripping through Austria and Germany. It was such an amazing time! So let’s begin with some context and details.
I decided to do a whirlwind self-guided tour of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany in a week’s time. To maximize my ability to travel freely and flexibly, I rented a car in Switzerland and drove it through Austria and Germany and then back – BEST IDEA EVER! Renting a car gave me the real freedom to explore tiny mountain towns, abandoned castle ruins, and the alps on my own. I obtained an International Driving Permit here in the United States first to ensure that I would be legally able to drive in all of the countries I wanted to on my trip (it was inexpensive to do so and easy to get one through AAA!). After landing in Zürich, Switzerland (remember when I did one of my “Wanderlust Wednesday” posts about Zürich?? It came true!) and spending a day and night there, I then rented a car from the airport. I had booked it in advance so it was ready and waiting for me!
Getting into the car to begin driving toward Austria was a semi-terrifying moment. Will I be able to read the road signs? Will I know what the signs mean? Will people drive differently here? Will I be able to navigate okay? I had indeed brought along roadmaps with me and made sure to study up on the road signage and driving laws in Europe first, but this was the moment of truth. The biggest lifesaver EVER was the wonderful maps.me app that I was able to use offline (I did not use my cellphone unless there was wifi somewhere). I was easily able to follow along with the map on the screen. So off the Austria I headed!
Driving in Austria requires having a vignette or “driving sticker” in your car windshield. Tourists get nailed by the police all the time for not having them, so I made sure to stop and get one at a gas station right before crossing over the Austrian border from Switzerland.
I spent three days driving through Austria and Germany, stopping for two nights around Füssen, Germany and then heading back to Switzerland. The sightseeing was absolutely incredible and the freedom to just stop and explore or check something out was great! Much of the scenery looked like it was straight out of “The Sound of Music” (I may or may not have pulled the car over on occasion to get out and run up the side of a hill while singing, lol). It was so breathtakingly beautiful. Below are some the photos I took while sitting passenger seat in the car and at some the places I stopped!
This was the first morning I had the car! I enjoyed a fresh poppyseed roll for breakfast, “fangirled” over seeing a sign for the Grand Tour (always wanted to drive it myself and am also in love with the show!), and snagged a picture of the border crossing heading into Austria!
Austria was absolutely gorgeous. I spent most of the time admiring the scenery before quickly realizing I was already approaching the border of Germany! On a tiny, rural backroad, I entered into Germany as noted by a small sign and then stumbled across these old castle ruins. One reason why I love using maps.me is because it lets you know if you’re coming upon something historical and notable, so I was able to quickly pull off the find these ruins!
No road trip is complete without snacks! I discovered the delicious wonders of Mezzo Mix (why is this not a thing in the States?) and stocked up on Kinder eggs and goodies!!
After spending a couple days in Germany, I started the drive back to Switzerland. I had always seen pictures of the super-blue creeks and rivers there, but OH MAN was it even prettier than I had imagined! In Austria, I stopped at a park to admire this river and take in the towering Alps ahead – mountains that I would soon be driving into!
This may be something weird to ogle over, but I was most impressed with the road designs through the Austrian Alps. This is an example of how they build “semi-tunnels” through some of the mountainsides, which serve two purposes – it’s easier to drive through a mountain than to drive over one and it helps keep snow and water off the roads. Notice the overhang on the side – when the snow melts, it goes right over the edge of the road instead of melting onto the road and getting it wet, where it might freeze over and become slippery for cars. As someone who grew up in the snowy mountains of the northeast US, I can greatly appreciate this engineering ingenuity.
The last few pictures I’d like to share are of driving through and atop the actual Alps themselves. This was an experience unlike any other, and I am so thankful that my little rental car was able to handle it (although the elevation did mess with the tire pressure). Rather than take a highway back to Switzerland, I decided that a road through the Alps would be more fun. And IT WAS!! It was SO picturesque and scenic – words cannot describe it. The roads were thin and winding through the mountains and a large part of the drive through the Alps was rather harrowing, but it was incredible. At one point, I was so high up that the road was still closed from the winter snow so I had to stop the car and turn back around – but not without getting some pictures first! I was at about 14,000 feet up in elevation. I really admired the buses full of skiers that were able to easily drive up and down the mountainsides all day!
All in all, driving on the Autobahn, through the Austrian Alps, and past gorgeous scenery and little mountain towns was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. In a way, it breathed new life into me. Of course, I have other photos and stories of the actual places I went to on this road trip, but I wanted to first share the experience of driving around. If you ever get the opportunity to do so, rent a car and explore!
More posts to come soon! Happy travels!