40 by 30: Vaduz, Lichtenstein
(Originally posted to Facebook in 2017. Part 3 of a series from Olivia’s birthday, where we traveled to her 40th country before her 30th year.)
After we dropped our rental car at the Zurich airport, it was easy to catch transit to Vaduz: the train station is in the same building as the air terminals. Getting to Vaduz isn’t as easy as you might think, however: we had to take a train to Zürich HB and switch to a train to Sargans, Switzerland before catching a bus to Vaduz, Liechtenstein. A cursory glance at the schedule didn’t make it seem as easy as it actually turned out to be!
Vaduz is the seat of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The country itself is a small, constitutional hereditary monarchy: there’s a Prince, Prince Hans-Adam II, the 13th thus far, and a “diet”, which consists of elected members. Both bodies can create laws, but the Prince ultimately has final say. It was fascinating learning first-hand about this intimate, friendly city!
It was raining when we left Zurich, and when we arrived in Vaduz by bus, the weather was still a bit nasty, but letting up. We weren’t sure where to go, at first: Vaduz is a touristy town, but there’s not a lot of help if you’re not staying at a nearby hotel. Luckily, the Visitor’s Center was nearby, so we were able to get out of the cold mist and get our bearings.
We opted to stamp our passports, (it costs 6€) and were directed to a bus station to lock up our bags. In that short time, the mist had lessened and the clouds thinned, so started getting much more comfortable. We had a quick lunch at Brasserie Burg, (there weren’t many options on Saturday, as the weekend tends to be quite slow) and put together a plan for our few hours in town.
The photos are accurate: the city is a strange cross between a modern city and something out of a fairy tale. The 13th century castle, and private residence of the monarchy, overlooks the tightly-packed lanes dotted with construction cranes. While there aren’t any tours of the residence, there are several pathways that lead up to the castle, and a stunning view.
Olivia would get her hike on this trip after all.
The hike is pretty steep to start, but bearable. It can be a bit confusing, as houses and their adjacent property butt directly to the trail. Thankfully there are many signs that serve to both let you know you’re on the right path and tell you about the country.
Once you reach the castle, you’re granted a pretty impressive view of the entire city… it’s likely unparalleled anywhere else. The castle, while seemingly accessible, is pretty foreboding — it’s a private residence, after all. So after a few photos of the view, we headed back down to wander a bit.
The Red House
The Red House is probably the oldest building in Vaduz, its origins stretching back to the 14th century. It’s in private ownership at the moment by Egon Rheinberger, a famous painter, but still serves as a tourist landmark.
After an hour or so of walking the quiet streets with a few other tourist couples nearby, we headed back to the bus station to catch the bus and 8-hour train to Vienna. Before heading out, though, we stopped for a few “supplies” for the train ride, including a bottle of the Prince’s wine!
Train to Vienna
The train system in Europe is notoriously fast, extensive and relatively cheap: our train to Vienna was no exception. Topping out at 160 km/hr at times, we rocketed across Austria and took some time to relax with small, handmade sandwiches and wine.
We avoided travel weariness with banter and funny photos…
…but not all of us could stay awake for the entire ride… ❤️
In the end, though, Liv stepped off the train into her 40th country, before her 30th birthday… Mission Accomplished! An awesome pair of days in the gorgeous city of Vienna lay ahead.