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Published: February 13th 2009
This Smile is Fake
This is after we changed trains in Salzburg, and still had about 3 1/2 hours left on the train. The smile is definitely fake.
Four countries, two days, more walking than you can imagine. It's a beautiful thing.
Monday morning, Libor and I were at the train station at the ungodly hour of 5:30am to catch our train at 5:45. At about 10 we pulled into Salzburg, though we were late in catching our connecting train since we weren't travelling with ÖBB , but die Deutsche Bahn. Let us be a little prejudiced, ok? We've lived in Austria for almost 6 months now, of course there's animosity between us and Germany 😊 Anyways, after waiting a half-hour in Salzburg, we boarded the train, took a small ride through Germany, went through Innsbruck, and at about 3:30 on Monday afternoon arrived in Feldkirch, one of the western-most cities in Austria, which only took us about 10 hours to get to. For some perspective, my flight from Boston to Frankfurt back in September was about 7 hours. Needless to say, we were both going insane since we had barely eaten all day , and had been cooped up in the train for hours.
Anyways, we arrived, checked into our
hostel, which was a really cool, really old building, and then headed out into the city. Though Feldkirch was very, very small, it was nice. We wandered around, got a kebap to quell our hunger until we could have a bigger dinner, and saw the sights. It was pretty nice, though we were both surprised by how small it was, and how few people there really were. It was also interesting because it was remarkably difficult to understand people there. We were still in Austria so it was relatively ok , but it was definitely a different accent from the Styrian one we've come to know, love, and use. It was interesting, too, because people had a hard time understanding us, since we seem to have picked up the Styrian accent a little bit...but we're not complaining.
We'd seen the sights of the city , and were both still not hungry enough for dinner, so I had an idea: let's walk to Liechtenstein. And we did just that. It was about a 20 minute walk from the center of Feldkirch to the border, so we decided to
This was the floor we were on.
saddle on up and take a stroll. It was awesome, too, because we were walking towards Liechtenstein and could see the lights of the villages , but all of that with a backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Not too shabby! We thought about going over the border, but Libor and I both didn't have our passports on us, which normally would not be a problem since he's an EU citizen and I'm a resident of the EU, but we were heading into non-EU territory. We decided instead just to walk back into Feldkirch and have dinner. It was about 6:45 in the evening, and the city was absolutely deserted. We were both flabbergasted . You see more people on the streets of Graz at 3:30 in the morning than we saw in the entire city at 7 o'clock at night! It was amazing. Anyways, we ate dinner and then headed back to the hostel, calling it an early night since we were exhausted from the trip and waking up so early.
Tuesday morning we woke up and headed out for our
This was the building.
biggest of adventures of the trip. We walked to the train station, where we bought our bus tickets which gave us access to the entire city of Feldkirch and surrounding region, the entire COUNTRY of Liechtenstein, and to various cities in Switzerland...for 4euro. We were both once again in disbelief, but so it goes. We took the bus from Feldkirch through Liechtenstein to Buchs, a small city in Switzerland. There we wandered around a bit, and we actually ended up walking to another city right outside of Buchs without even knowing it, named Werdenberg. This was really cool because it was actually once the smallest city in Switzerland, composed of pretty much just a castle on a small hill with about 15 houses surrounding it. It's still inhabited, though there's the newer section of the city, too. We chose to stick to the old section, and just wandered around on the small streets and went up to the castle. Unfortunately, it started to rain while we were there, and continued for pretty much the entire day on and off, but so it goes when you're in the middle of the Alps.
We walked from Werdenberg
Feldkirch's church and the city's castle is actually in this picture, as well.
back into Buchs, from which we decided to walk back to Liechtenstein. It was awesome! We found the bridge we'd driven over with the bus, and literally walked from the Swiss banks of the Rhein back to the Liechtensteinisch banks--of course we stopped to take various pictures with the signs annoucing the transition of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, which was surely a spectacle for the people driving by, but so be it.
Once back in Liechtenstein, we walked to Schaan, which is the biggest city of the country. I feel I should explain a little bit of Liechtenstein. It's the fourth smallest country in Europe after Vatican City, Moraco, and San Marino. It's about 12 miles long and 5 miles wide, with a population of 35,000. It's German-speaking, but like nothing I'd ever heard. It's almost like they're speaking German with a Romance language accent. The vowels are very strong, and the r's are always rolled. It's an Alsatian dialect, if anyone cares to study that a little bit more, which basically means a combination of French with German. We were stopped at one point and asked a question by a girl who was probably about 12-year's old, and when
The city was hopping in this picture, and I'm not exaggerating.
we responded, she smiled and said, "Merci!" instead of "Danke," which was interesting.
Anyways, we walked from Switzerland back to Schaan, which is the largest city in Liechtenstein and known for its industry. We saw pretty much a car dealership and a Germany company, and are also pretty certain we saw every single one of its 5,000 residents. This place it tiny, folks. We wandered around a bit there, and then walked once again to Vaduz, the capital of the country and home to the prince of Liechtenstein. We walked up to the prince's castle, which overlooks the entire city, and wandered around a bit there, though unfortunately couldn't go in since he really actually does live there. From there, we headed back down into the city and wandered around a little bit more, taking it all in. It was overall an absolutely beautiful country, mostly set in a valley framed on one side by the Swiss Alps, and on the other by the Austrian and Liechtensteinisch Alps. As we were rapidly running out of things to do in Vaduz, we looked at each other and said hey, since we have the pass for the entire country, why not
This picture is a little crowded with people by Feldkirch's standards.
make it count? We made it our mission that day to see the entire country of Liechtenstein. We caught the bus south to Balzers, the southernmost city of Liechtenstein, which lies right on the border with Switzerland. It was not as excited as we'd thought, but there was a castle there from when Liechtenstein was divided between the North and South Kingdoms . We went up to this castle, which was not nearly as impressive as Schloss Vaduz, but then again, this castle is also not currently inhabited. We did have some outstanding views of the Liechtensteinisch Alps, though, which is of course always a plus, as well as the Swiss Alps.
From Balzers, we headed back up to Vaduz, where we then caught the bus to Triesenberg, in the East. We wanted to go higher up than Triesenberg , but unfortunately the buses weren't going that high. We poked around Triesenberg a little bit, and then caught the bus back to Vaduz. By this time, it was dark, but
The main square of Feldkirch.
we still wanted to try to go to the northern end of the country. Unfortunately, no buses weren't running there, just straight back to Austria, so we decided to walk from Vaduz back to Schaan in the quest for food, and then take the bus from Schaan back to Feldkirch and see the northern portion of the country on wheels. We found a little restaurant and there had the Liechtensteinisch form of Schnitzel and attempted to understand the people around us, which was a fruitless quest. We walked the rest of the way back to Schaan and caught the bus back to Feldkirch, thoroughly exhausted from the day's adventures.
Wednesday we woke up and headed for the train station yet again, but this time took the train. We caught the Regional Express to the city of Bregenz, again on the Austrian border, but this time with Germany. From the train station we found our way to Bodensee, an enormous lake that is the natural border between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We were in Austria the entire time, but look in one direction towards Switzerland and then over to
Germany where it was all quaint little German towns. It was snowing so hard there that it was almost a white out at a few points, but we managed to walk about a mile and a half along Bodensee to a small peninsula which was nice. We then walked back and headed into the city, which was a really nice little place with cobblestone streets and very old buildings. It was all very quaint. We grabbed a kebap here as well, and then headed back to the train station, with our next stop, Lindau, Deutschland.
After about a 3 minute train ride, we pulled into the city of Lindau which is actually on an island in Bodensee belonging to Germany. We walked around the entire perimeter of the island, which was relatively small, and then headed into the middle section into the city. It was amazing how in such a small distance, everything was different, which was the major eye-opener of the trip, and the thing that is still mind-boggling to me about Europe . It was a small city,
Chur is a city in Switzerland, and I'm assuming that Feldkirch was once a part of its domain, and thus this tower is named for it.
but that was to be expected since it's on an island. It was really nice, with painted buildings and cobblestoned streets. Once again, it was just a very quaint little place. It was absolutely freezing because of the wind, so we stopped and had a hot chocolate , and then decided to take the train back to Feldkirch. We bought chickens from the grocery store for dinner, dropped them off at the hostel, and then headed back into Feldkirch. We found a little bar where we hung out for a bit and enjoyed our last night in Feldkirch, then went back to the hostel, ate, and went to bed.
Yesterday we woke up, checked out of the hostel, and headed to the train station. We caught the train at about 10:15am which was direct back to Graz, which meant 8 hours of sitting in the same seat. We were prepared this time, as we stopped at the grocery store before boarding, so we had food and drinks galore. We found a group of free seats where it's two seats on each side facing each other with a table in the middle, and made
The city's castle.
ourselves cozy for the long ride ahead, each taking a side. Thus, it wasn't all too bad since we both had two seats to spread out on and relax and soforth. For the majority of the trip, there was an old Austrian couple sitting in the seats on the other side of the aisle from us, and I think they either got a big kick out of us or were very confused. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but Libor and I communicate in German. Well, not just Libor and me, but all of my friends and me. Sure, most of them speak English, but in varying degrees, and most of them prefer German, anyways Anyways, yea, Libor speaks only a little bit of English, and I'm not here to speak in English, so we communicate in German. This old couple across from us, though, was either really confused or got a kick out of us, since here we were, two young guys with very different accents in German, clearly foreigners, one with an "Elementary English" book and the other with an "Elementary
Not the biggest place in the world, but nice and quaint.
Czech" book, asking one another questions from time to time in German about grammar and what certain words mean, etc. etc.
Anyways, we got into Graz last night at about 6:30 at night, and from there just relaxed and looked at our pictures. Thomas was in Romania and then Poland, so we saw his pictures, too, which were really cool. I'm dying to go to Poland, and Libor and I had actually thought about going there instead of doing this 4-country round-up, but used our better judgment and said we couldn't without Martyna and Agata, our local tour guides. We also mentioned this to them, and both concurred that they would have killed us if we'd ever thought of going to Poland without them, since they can obviously be our interpreters/place to stay/tour guide, etc. Our new roommate is also here, Caroline. She's from France, from the middle of the country, but her parents are from Poland, so she speaks both languages. She also speaks English, and relatively good German . I'm still a little confused by her, though, 'cause she sat with Libor and me while we ate dinner and
The river running through Feldkirch, a branch of the Rhine.
chatted and we got to know each other, and I asked her what language she wanted to speak in with me, whether that be German or English. She'd told me that she should say English, but she wants to learn English so she would only speak to me in German. This was all well and good and I was happy about that, until later in the night when she came to my room to ask me a question and asked me in English. Basically, I'm not totally confused about which language I'm supposed to talk to her in, but so it goes.
Anyways, that's about it for now, hope you enjoy the pictures. Until next time, when I'll tell you about my adventures in Slovakia and Sweden!
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Federer (my "exception" a la Friends)
Thanks for the Federer thing. It kind of looked like him on the money you had a picture of. Second, I don't think you should be going places without your passport on you. Doesn't seem smart.
I don't need to carry my passport, I have a card that I have with me that replaces my passport, 'cause it lists me as an inhabitant of Austria, so I only need my passport when I'm in another country...it's a pretty sweet deal haha
One lucky guy!
Awesome pictures, Matthew
I can't believe how beautiful and storybook Switzerland is! You are some lucky guy! I am so jealous!!! I'm sure you've sent my swiss chocolate valentine - it's probably in the mail! You look fabulous and so happy! Miss you! xok