We stopped the car in Vaduz and walked aimlessly along the main road, looked at a church and tried to convince ourselves it was interesting, and then the new Parliament building that was being constructed and then we left. We crossed back into Switzerland and progressed towards Austria, which we entered through a busy border control crossing but were not asked to produce our passports this time.
This was a disappointing part of the journey, we had passed quickly from the drama of the Alps to a ubiquitous landscape of industrial units and garage franchises that might have been, well, anywhere really. This wasn’t the Austria that we had enjoyed in Salzburg but a rather bleak and unappealing semi- industrialised part of the country that we didn’t find desperately appealing. So much so that after Kim had confirmed that there was nothing worth making a detour for we abandoned our plans to use only the minor roads and headed for the motorway and the quick route back to Germany.
After a quick sprint down the A13 motorway, which I was delighted to discover, was toll free, we passed through a long tunnel and emerged once more beside Lake Constance and at some point we passed back into Germany. We couldn’t say exactly where however because there was no border control separating the two countries. This wasn’t very exciting either and the road that I hoped would pass close to the lake was always two or three kilometres away and consequently it was almost permanently obscured from our view by a line of shore-hugging conifers.
The traffic was getting much heavier now as we passed through Lindau and queued through the town of Kressbronn, twice as it happened because I took a wrong turn at some point when Kim was temporarily neglecting her navigation duties. Suddenly a few kilometres out of Friedrichshafen we ran into an unexpected traffic jam and we crawled at an agonisingly slow pace while the clock ticked on towards ten-thirty.
The reason for the hold-up was a major event being held in the town that was attracting a lot of young visitors driving old cars and the police, sensing easy pickings, had taken the opportunity to set up a roadblock where they could select one every now and then to be pulled over for vehicle checks and a possible fine.
Once passed the obstruction we made our way quickly back to Friedrichshafen and after some minor difficulty finding our way back to the city centre we had the car refuelled and returned to the rental office with a few minutes to spare.
There was an hour or two left before we needed to go back to the airport so we wandered along the promenade again, and then did a little more shopping. I’m not a keen shopper myself but Kim found a shoe shop with some footwear that took her eye and made a spectacular purchase after negotiating a substantial discount when she spotted a minor flaw in a pair of sandals that she just had to have.
Before leaving we had a final leisurely lakeside lunch before we returned to the hotel to change and to call for a taxi to return us to the airport. The town was still exceptionally busy due to the event and the driver displayed moments of impatience but he obviously knew some short cuts and he had us transported to the airport terminal in good time for our check-in.
I do like airports with outside bars and I especially liked this one. After check-in we were able to sit for our last hour in the sunshine, which was infinitely preferable to being restricted to an overcrowded departure lounge and as we enjoyed a final drink we reflected on our journey and made our final assessments. We had really enjoyed the trip, the weather was outstanding, we had chosen two good hotels and the food and drink had been excellent. The outstanding moments had been the ferry crossings, the Swiss Alps, the night in Liechtenstein and the automatic self-cleaning loo.