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Published: September 18th 2018
We did our usual routine of cleaning up, changing clothes, packing, and away we went, to our next stop in the tiny country of Liechtenstein, about 1 to 2 hours away. After getting another 50 Euros of gas at the station in front of the hostel, we were sent by the car's navigation system down one of the streets that was closed for upcoming festivities in Innsbruck. Fortunately, after a couple of turns I made on my own, the system picked a new route and we were off. Most of the trip was on decent roads, as usual, but this time instead of one longish tunnel and a couple smaller ones like we'd gone through on our way to Innsbruck, this time it was tunnels galore, several long ones, and one that was over 10 kilometers long! After that one and a couple smaller ones, I needed a stress relief break, so we pulled off into one of the frequent raststation exits. Previously on major roads, we been impressed by the frequency of little rest areas along the way, many having bathroom facilities. On this trip, we ran into three different types; the standard simple pullovers, rastplatz that we bigger and
had restrooms, and periodic raststations which had a gas station and someplace to eat. Very impressive! The U.S. could learn from their system. We finally reached the border with Liechtenstein and pulled in to see if we needed to get our U.S. passports stamped. I asked the lady at the "customs" building, explaining that we were from the U.S., and she told us we didn't need a stamp and in fact she didn't have any way to stamp them anyways. Soon after, we entered the town(s) of Schaan-Valduz. I say town(s) because I'd been under the impression it was one town, but actually it is two, Schaan and Valduz. Our hostel was right in the middle of the two towns, but unfortunately just as before, I couldn't follow the car's navigation system due to road construction. After winding my way through the streets I could, and winging it, I finally got instructions that led us to our hostel, the Schaan-Valduz Youth Hostel, a Hosteling International youth hostel.
We really lucked out here because again, the hostel didn't normally open for check-in until 5pm and we arrived before 11am, but there was a guy at the reception desk that checked
and told us our room was ready, so he could check us in. Not only did we luck out there, but the guy said that although we'd booked a 6-bed dorm, they weren't all that busy, so he would avoid putting anyone else in our room. The only down side was that the rooms don't have ensuite bathrooms, so we'll still have to share the restrooms and showers. I paid the 60-some Swiss Francs for the room by credit card, grabbed our bedding and start unloading the car. The room was pretty standard, except that each bunk bed had its own light and receptacle. Since there was no receptacle near the only table in the room, I had to move the table over closer to the window so I could use my wife's receptacle for the computer. The upside there is that I can sit here at my computer and look out our window at a beautiful meadow with the Alps in the background. We each had a room key and a locker key, so after stowing our gear, we headed out.
The map we had wasn't all that great, with very few street names, so I'd noticed there
were 5 different Tourist Information Centers in the two "towns", and the closet one was in Schaan. We walked quite a ways without ever finding that one, so we turned around and head back past where we'd started and continued on to Valduz. Again, the map didn't help much. What looked like maybe a mile turned out to be more like 3 miles, but we did finally find the Tourist Information Center in Valduz. It was near the end of a very nice pedestrian only street, lined with one sculpture after another, plus quite a few restaurants, hotels, and souvenir shops. The difference between the main part of Schaan and that of Valduz was pretty shocking. There were few stores and restaurants of any kind in Schaan, and many of both in Valduz. We also got our first view of Schloss Valduz, or Castle Valduz, way up the hill behind the town. Since it was about 1pm by now, after asking about walking up to the castle, we decided to eat lunch somewhere near the town center. We'd already checked out a gourmet supermarket/cafeteria called Ospelt, a Spar Gourmet, so after looking around a bit we went back to the
Ospelt, and each got a plate of assorted stuff, paying for it by weight. Manoli got assorted salad fixings, and I got a good helping of tortellini and another of mixed vegetables. Everything was delicious. Since Liechtenstein, like Switzerland doesn't use the Euro, but the Swiss Franc, we weren't sure how to pay, so I ended up using my credit card. We found out later that most places accept Euros, even our hostel, except they won't take coins, only bills.
After lunch, we decided to go for it, and walk up to the castle. It was a pretty steep, grueling hike at first, but leveled out some later. We finally reached the castle and took some photos. We'd already been told the castle wasn't open to the public because the Prince was in residence, but we were able to walk around the outside of about half of it. It seems to be a mixture of very old parts, and fairly new parts. There were to National Police standing near their motorcycles just to make sure the public didn't intrude on the Prince. After taking some photos, we headed back down into Valduz. By the time we reached the bottom
it was almost 5pm, so we had to decide what we were going to do next. We needed to get something light for dinner and knew there weren't any supermarkets near the hostel, so we figured we'd find a good supermarket on our way out of Valduz, then grab the bus to save us the rest of the walk. Well, but the time we found a decent supermarket, a COOP, it didn't seem all that far to the hostel, so we continued walking. We actually walked past the turn we should have taken since the map was terrible and there were no signs on the main road for the hostel. Oh well, live and learn. We both picked up some salads and shared an apple strudel for dinner, along with my Coke to drink with my dinner.
Tomorrow we leave for Zurich, Switzerland for a two-night stay there, then back to Ramstein to hopefully catch a hop back home... soon. Good night from the cute little country of Liechtenstein.
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