fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Zurich and Liechtenstein

I flew to Zurich for the long weekend. This was just on the edge of my rule that you have to be somewhere three times as long as it takes getting there and back, but it was worth the trip.

I had printed out a few walking tours and spent most of Saturday meandering first down Bahnhofstrasse (a shopping street, more notable for people watching than stores), finishing up at a large flea market by Lake Zurich. Then I followed the other two tours I'd downloaded, leading me through the Altstadt (the old city). The most notable sights are the Fraumunster church, with beautiful stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall, and the Grossmunster cathedral. But the real pleasure of the walk was just turning down the narrow medieval alleys (e.g. Synagogengasse, the street where the synagogue had been in medieval times) and admiring the architecture. Another obligatory stop was for coffee at the Cafe Odeon, where Lenin hung out plotting revolution. All in all, it made for a pleasant walk, especially as the weather was sunny and warm, but not hot.

On Sunday, I made the excursion to Liechtenstein that had been the primary purpose of the trip. That required a train to Sargans, connecting to a bus to the capital, Vaduz. The scenery on the train ride was stereotypically Swiss, with peaked roof houses, green fields, and steep hills rising behind the farmlands. Even the industrial areas met my expectations, as I saw factories that produce beer, chocolate, and pharmaceuticals. As for Liechtenstein, I have to admit it's not a very exciting place. Vaduz is pleasant enough, but nothing there is truly unique. I got my workout in by climbing up through the old part of the city, past a medieval building known as the Red House, and to a view of the castle. (One can't visit the castle, so the effort involved in the climb is somewhat dubious.) The main street of the center has a few cafes (about half of which offer Asian food, oddly enough, though I went for one that stuck to the more expected pizza, pasta, and sandwiches), museums (about which more in a minute), the attractive parliament building, and the obligatory cathedral. There are also images from postage stamps embedded in the street and a photo exhibit about Liechtenstein's foreign aid program outside the parliament.

The national museum is so-so. My German is barely adequate for reading the labels so perhaps it is partly my own fault, but I never got a sense of what makes Liechtenstein different from Switzerland or Austria. The art museum was better, assuming one does (as I do) like modern art. But it was rather pricy. The Postal Museum, despite being a subject I have little interest in, has the major advantage of being free.

Perhaps I'd have liked Liechtenstein better had it not been Sunday (which is a day for tourists to take over Vaduz) but I found it, generally dull. Still, I accomplished the purpose of my trip (namely, filling in a country gap) and it was good to get away for the weekend.
Tags: travel

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