lichtensteinDemetrius, an amazing character I met on my trip to Estonia last year, sent me an email today, “Your writing has become less frequent,” and I realized that ever since I started my Facebook business page I’ve been investing a lot more effort there instead. But I miss writing. I am constantly jotting down notes and dreaming up books in planes and on trains. My private journal is chock full of thoughts and ramblings. I’ve stopped making it as public, but there’s still something to be said for typing out a blog post and then hearing from people who can relate to your words or simply enjoyed reading them. So here goes nothing. St. Gallen, Switzerland (for a wedding) and Vaduz, Liechtenstein (to hit my 33rd country). PS. I’ll still keep this blog up but I would also LOVE if you would give my brand spanking new Facebook page a likey like! This is a mix of mostly iPhone photos and selfies with a few “real” pictures thrown in for good measure 🙂
On my way into St. Gallen, Swizterland, a Swiss man voluntarily struck up a conversation with me on the train to tell me how awful the American public transportation system is. How great the railroad in Switzerland is. How he’s lived in this country his entire life, 40+ years, and never needed a car…”Bet you can’t do that in America, huh?” he says proudly.
What I wanted to respond was, “yo yo YO. Not that I don’t love a good public transport system as much as the next carless soul…but c’mon dude, Switzerland is the size of like…Maryland. And would you rag on an Australian for the same thing? They’re also terrible human beings who use cars instead of trains all the time. Because our countries are GINORMOUS!”
Instead, I laughed really genuinely so he thought I was joking and said “yeah we Americans and our cars are the root of all evil.” 🙂
That being said, I do love arriving to Europe and having the freedom to go anywhere and do anything without having to drive. What the guy is saying is totally legit, a good public transportation system is priceless.
After I shot the wedding though, there wasn’t too much else to see. Once you’ve seen one picturesque town in the Swiss Alps, you’ve seen them all…I’m KIDDING. St. Gallen isn’t even in the Alps.
But truthfully, after the wedding, and after watching the U.S. v. Germany World Cup match, in a decidedly hostile towards Americans environment, I was feeling a little antsy.
Renata (the bride) and I
I decided that it was time to see some new countries. I settled on making a trip to Austria and Liechtenstein in the same day — because they were both so close!
So I started out bright and early Sunday morning…and I proceeded to forget my passport and had to go back after I’d already taken the train about 40 minutes from St. Gallen.
I returned for it, and got terribly lost in the process (or as I prefer to call it – I had a kind of wander-y day), spending approximately 3 hours wandering the Swiss Railroads aimlessly.
Very few people were able to give me directions in English or Spanish! That’s ok though, I wholeheartedly enjoyed the adventure! A coffee on the train. Speaking German…when I don’t speak any German…any at all. Looking at the rain. Listening to a good playlist.
In the end I made it to Vaduz where I was able to squeeze in a riveting tourist experience in just a couple of hours.
It was raining cats and dogs when I arrived so I hopped off the bus and sprinted towards the prettiest looking building I saw. I’d thought to take shelter under an awning, when I realized it was an actually a museum! Better yet, I could take shelter inside!
The woman at the front desk was kind and explained to me in English that the museum was all about the history of Lichtenstein. That sounded good to me since I knew (spoiler alert: know) nothing about the country.
And she let me go in for free even though normal admission price was 10 francs. What she failed to mention, however, is that the entire museum is in German! So while it was beautifully done, I wandered around understanding absolutely nothing.
Literally, the only sign in English said “Please sniff here” so obviously I did. Incense and Myrrh, guys! I felt so biblical.
I was having quite the solitary Lichtenstein museum experience, when a few rooms in I heard two guys speaking in English.
We struck up a conversation and I found out they were from Hungary and Germany. With a German-speaker now on my side, I got one takeaway from the museum — back in the day when they had their own currency, Salvador Dali designed a coin for them. The end.
The German and the Hungarian offered to let me drive up with them to the castle. I ignored all practical wisdom and went ahead and got into a car with not one, but two strangers. Germans are weird but not dangerous <3 And I’d never met a Hungarian before so I had no idea whether or not I should’ve been very afraid.
We drove up to the look out point with a foggy, grey, rainy view of tiny Vaduz. The castle is inhabited by Lichtenstein’s actual prince so you can’t even go inside, all you can do is stare at the thick mortar walls and hope they’ve found a way to install modern heating by now. The place looked like it would be colder than living in an igloo.
When all was said and done a debate ensued — should I get on a bus and try to make it to Austria before the Mexico vs. Netherlands game started? Should the boys begin their drive back to Zurich? In the end we found a bar showing World Cup action with a small TV and the volume turned down low. There was the option to watch outdoor in a nice viewing area they had set up with beer carts and all, however, it was still raining and chilly so we opted out.
That my friends, is my day in Lichtenstein. My 33rd country. The German and The Hungarian didn’t kidnap me. In fact, they actually drove me back to a train stop in Switzerland so I could get home faster.
And remember all that hullabaloo about needing to go back to get my passport and spending 3 additional hours of my day aboard trains, lost? It was all for NAUGHT. I didn’t get so much as a stamp!!! There wasn’t so much as a border crossing. THE BUS DRIVER DID NOT EVEN BRAKE when we passed the sign that said Welcome To Liechtenstein! But I’m glad I went and a had a very wander-y day. That’s what travel is all about.