It was all fairly last minute.
The weather was supposed to be bad in my first intended location to kick off my break-between-semesters tour. A leaving-student-friend said “hey, why don’t we hang for a day in Frankfurt before I fly?” Europass whispering sweet nothings in my ear I said, “Ok, I’m IN!”
Florence to Frankfurt… with a day to burn… where to go? To Google maps of course. Spiraling outward I weighed options… Milan for a day? Zurich? Venice finally? Lichtenstein? Stras– Wait what? I was familiar with the smallness of Luxembourg but besides a movie reference I wasn’t sure I read that right.
Wikitravel? Oh yes. Yeup. I’ll be going to Lichtenstein.
I tried repeatedly to banish the voice saying “Sir Ulrich Von….!” each time I said the name of the country. “It’s called a lance… duh…” (give yourself a pat on the back if you know what I’m talking about, we share our shame).
Yes, Lichtenstein is a country. I have a passport stamp to prove that it exists and I have been there. Funny side note: if you google “lichtenstein” the artist and not the country are the first pops — all part of the travel-cred in my book and not just for that, I would encourage you to go.
Silly films and SEO problems notwithstanding the country presented a little bit of a logistical challenge to get to. I did as much information gathering as possible but figuring it out on the fly is part of the adventure right?
So off I went with 2 days notice to Lichtenstein and here is what I found:
- It is gorgeous.
- The people are quite friendly.
- The food and coffee are good.
- The Prince makes his own wine and you can walk around his vinyard.
- Did I mention it is gorgeous? And you can see a great deal of it in one day?
On the Bus (getting there)
“Where do I buy a ticket for the bus?”
“For the Bus? Go on.”
“Go on the bus.”
“Yes to go on the bus. But where do I buy a ticket?”
“Go on the bus.”
“Yes… oh, on the bus. Got it. Thank you.”
He smiled and nodded, obviously incredibly pleased our little Abbot-Costello was at an end. I was pleased with myself that I asked for directions instead of just wandering as I am want to do. The advice on where to buy your ticket for the bus was missing from the Wikipedia page (just as the only recommended restaurant is not there/renamed).
Trains I like. Schedule. Ticket machine. Point A to B. Got it. The train ride to the closest Swiss town is almost worth the adventure in and of itself — absolutely stunning.
I had already broken in my Pass and taken a beloved train thus far. It ended up being more cost effective to stay in Zurich overnight and then travel in the morning. Zurich is deservedly a notoriously expensive city but hotels/hostels are at least less expensive then in Liechtenstein and, you know, available.
I zipped past icy country and snow drifts…
And I was slightly nervous about this bus border crossing.
Riding busses in foreign places/tongues? I’m working on the love of that part of the adventure — but I am working on it because why?
I had breakfast in Zurich, lunch in Liechtenstein and dinner in Frankfurt.
This is the joy of being open to travel with a home-base in Europe: it is just that easy.
Decide where you want to go, hop a train, open yourself up to chatting — however flawed with the locals — and you can stand a Prince’s vineyard savoring every breath.
“Don’t smile” indeed.
I walked. I walked a lot.
This is what I do when I go to a place: I walk. A lot.
Depending on the time I arrive my favorite things to do in a new city or town is either take a run, take a meander or take a guided walking tour. I’ve had excellent success with “free” (where you are just asked to tip your guide) and paid versions of walking tours in cities.
Lichtenstein? I was on my own.
Well, with a hat tip to Google Maps caching.
What Wikitravel will not tell you is that it is about a 3km straight walk between two of the “major” 3 towns. And I walked that road. Twice.
There is a Museum and a Historical Center which I’m sure are lovely — the latter bosting the don’t smile exhibit. You can go up to the gates of the prince’s castle or learn more about their stamps. I didn’t.
I spent most of the December day outside. (the picture is from a parking lot — a parking lot!) When I did go in somewhere it was into a coffee shop, bakery, book store or local marketplace to sample the local flavor(s).
I conversed in stunted English-German with a few locals. Traded smiles with a great many. But on this day, I mostly simply walked and filled up my eyes and heart with the rural beauty that surrounded me.
It was a great day — well 6 or so hours.
Some might bemoan my bopping from place to place. In December, I visited 13 cities in 10 countries in 23 days. Lichtenstein being just one.
For me though it isn’t so much the count so much as the contrasts in cultures.
I know even if I spent 3-5 days everywhere I went, I still can only scratch the surface. There is so much to see and scratch. Why not just plan a day or two?! My travel is open-ended after all, I can change my mind – and GO.
I could have walked around Florence or Zurich or Frankfurt for those 7 hours but instead I got to see and experience a different place. (and yes, get my passport stamped at the Stamp Museum)
It really was just gorgeous. If anything tipped me over to getting my big-girl-camera, it was that day. I would love to go back and visit Balzers and maybe even Ruck around the whole thing. I’ve had my taste, my sample, and I can return.
It is that much easier now, I know how to take the bus.