I had the perfect start to 2014. Is it a sign of a good year ahead? I certainly hope so. I didn’t meet the love of my life, I didn’t tick the final item off my bucket list, but I did spend the first day of 2014 hiking in the Liechtenstein Alps with two of my best mates. The generosity and hospitality that I’ve been afforded in Liechtenstein has been unbelievable, but I’ll write about that at a later date.

IMG_1292Marco and I with a slight road block

In Liechtenstein I have been staying with Marco and his family after meeting him in Prague last summer. One of his friends, Sabrina, and her family own a cabin in Tuass, Liechtenstein and it’s one of 30 that cannot be purchased or rented. They are over 200 years old and were first given to the farmers of the area and no more will ever be built. These cabins are 25m2 and have been retrofitted to have a small kitchen, dining area, beds and solar-powered lights – everything you need.

IMG_6565 The cabins high in the alps

Sounds like a good start to the New Year, but doesn’t sound perfect, right? Well, we set off at 10:30am (after finishing up from New Year’s celebrations at 4:30am) with heavy eyelids and sore heads, but the clean and crisp fresh air changed the mood immediately. The cabin, 1,545m above sea level was our final destination and after three hours of solid hiking on roads, gravel tracks, snow, ice, trees and branches, we reached our target and were greeted by Jösy.

IMG_6616Jösy, Patrick, Marco and I in the cabin

Jösy is Sabrina’s father and he owns the cabin and was kind enough to invite us to join him and their family Labrador, Rusty for a night in the mountains. Patrick, Marco and I were immediately taken aback by the views that the cabin overlooked and it’s fair to say we were mesmerized. The cabin sits above the Rhine Valley with pristine views of the western border of Liechtenstein and the eastern border of Switzerland, separated by the River Rhine.

IMG_6561Standing over Switzerland (left of the River Rhine) and Liechtenstein (right)

It was like we were little kids again; we got back to basics and were so excited about being there – like camping holidays. There was only just enough electricity to power the light in the cabin and our cell phones were firmly tucked away. The night consisted of eating, drinking, playing Rummikub and Yahtzee, cigars (okay, we did do some grown up things) and good, old-fashioned conversation. A howling wind set in for the night but we were all but oblivious to it as we played games and followed that up with a 12-hour sleep in one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in!

Photo-4-01-2014-4-28-07-pmRusty, the Banzer Family’s Labrador

After a nice lazy morning, we had a thoroughly filling breakfast of eggs, bacon, deer, salami, cheese and bread and followed that up with a couple of games of Rummikub – I was hooked after just one game! We bid Jösy and Rusty farewell at lunchtime and set off back down the mountain, navigating some very steep terrain for an hour and a half before getting back to the real world with cars and people.

IMG_6597Switzerland and Liechtenstein by night

It might not have sounded like the perfect start to 2014, but it was perfect for us. I said it before, but we got back to basics. We had conversations, left cell phones in our pockets, played board games and had a magical view of three countries (Austria was also visible). Life is simple and we were certainly experiencing it with no qualms whilst just enjoying the company of good friends. Perfection.

I hope you had a great start to the New Year and it’s your best year yet.