... is quiet, apart from the families enjoying the temporary ice rink set up beside the Rathaus. Otherwise, the streets are deserted, the shops are shut, and the mountains (all around us) are mysteriously invisible. We saw them in all their glory earlier today, with orographic cloud coming and going over their summits and ridges. From our room at the Landhaus am Giessen (on Zollstraße) we can see Vaduz' floodlit royal castle perched on its cliff, and the unexpectedly British-looking cathedral spire in the middle distance.
We had a wonderful time travelling here this morning. Breakfast with a Gipfeli at the little coffee shop near our hotel in Zofingen, then we were on the platform at 9:30 waiting for our train to Olten. At Olten we transferred straight to the busy Zürich train, changed platforms, and again with no waiting got straight onto another train, a few platforms away, destination Budapest. This was an Austrian (ÖBB) train, that was to drop us at the town of Sargans in eastern Switzerland, the other side of the Zürchersee and the Walensee and several chains of mountains. The ride took us past vineyards and close to the lakes' edge, with their poplars and weeping willows, across the flat, green valley floors and through long tunnels. The views, with clouds clinging to the cliff-faces and snowy mountain ridges, were spectacular. Elsewhere the sky was blue. The trees on the mountainsides were still golden-brown for autumn, although we have now reached December 1st.
Again, at Sargans, no waiting. Off the train, down the slope, along the tunnel between platforms, up the other slope and round the corner of the railway station to the bus station, where the lime green No. 11 was waiting to leave for Feldkirch, in Austria. Our tickets bought at Zofingen covered this part of the journey too. It was a half-hour ride on the bus to Vaduz, at the central point of the bus route. We weren't sure of the correct stop for our lodging---now realise it should have been Vaduz-Au---so got out at Vaduz-Post where the postage stamp museum is, and the other museums in town. It is a fairly small capital city, with fewer than 9000 inhabitants all told. The state of Liechtenstein itself is only 24 km long and 12 km wide. We entered it over the bridge to Balzers (which also has a prominent castle); the bridge crosses the Rhine. This is the Rhine in its young stage, of course, not much water in it, and what water there is is a glacial blue, meandering among the white pebbles. It originates in the high land of Graubünden / Grissons where the locals call it the Rein da Tuma, in the Romantsch language. I have only just learned this.
This afternoon, after finding sandwiches in a café and lugging our luggage a kilometre back along the main road to our guest house, we checked in, left the bags in our room, and walked down to the River Rhine / Rhein / Rhin / Rein / Reno where there was a covered wooden bridge crossing it, not fit for motor vehicles, although you could probably drive a horse and cart through, or ride bicycles abreast. Half way over the bridge a line was drawn on the wall where Chris stood with one foot in Switzerland and one in Liechtenstein. I imagine a lot of people do that. A footpath called the Alpenrheinweg follows the bank on the Swiss side, with plaques about the local wildlife, etc., along it.
Having enjoyed that short walk, watching a para-glider soar slowly down the mountainside to land in a nearby field (others followed later), we left Switzerland behind again and took other footpaths round the back of town, following a stream, the Au, into the centre again. On the other side of the town is a large field with rows of vines, the Prince's royal vineyard, with what looked like very healthy plants. Every few rows, an illustrated information board described what needed to be done in the vineyard, on a particular month. I took a photo of the April board, but while reading the information my attention was wandering to the irresistible views of the mountains on the horizons of both countries, changing at every moment as the grey, or white or misty clouds formed and dissipated and the sun's dazzle moved from one direction to another. We went up another side of the vineyard to the Mitteldorf above it, an older part of the town, just a small village really, where there were old wine presses in people's gardens. One little cottage had sky-blue shutters, geraniums flowing over the upper window boxes and a vine curling up its whitewashed walls. What an idyll.
On the way "home" to our guest house, Chris got me to poke my head through one of those cardboard people's head holes, so that he could take a photo of me wearing a Liechtenstein dirndl.
We found another pizzeria for supper this evening. Chris ordered his usual cheese-free pizza and I had an Italian omelette. To drink, we sampled a Liechtenstein brew of beer, very smooth, because the restaurant didn't stock any of the local wines. Maybe the Prince keeps all those for his own Hofkellerei.