20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

Leichtenstein Central

Misty Schaan

Actually Switzerland

Sargans Central

14997km from Hong Kong.

The train to Vaduz was one carriage, almost a tram really, and there were two people on board who looked at me as if I must be lost. It stopped every few hundred meters but no-one else got on or off until it eventually pulled up at Schaan-Vaduz Hofbanhaus, the name being infinitely bigger than the station. There wasn't a soul around and certainly no ticket office or information but I did find a timetable on the wall - the next train back to Feldkirck was 1pm, bugger! I instantly knew that I couldn't hang around there for 5 or 6 hours and as there wasn't a left luggage I had to take my pack everywhere with me.

Liechtenstein is basically part of Switzerland, and the Swiss being as stubborn as the British haven't gone to the Euro yet so first mission - get some Swiss Francs, this one was easy, ATM at the post office across the road from the station. Intending to pass through and out of Switzerland by the end of the day I guessed that about 30 Francs would do it, guess again, the machine told me that it was "not enough money" or insufficient money" or "too small an amount" or some other cheeky comment like that and would only furnish me with a crisp new CHF50 note.

So now with CHF50 in my pocket, a heavy pack on my back and freezing hail in my face I walked the few hundred metres to the 'town' or Street as the rest of the world would consider it. I spotted a bus stop and thought salvation may be at hand if I could get a bus back to Feldkirck for the 10:10 to Zurich, there was one bus per day back into Austria and it had left over an hour before. There were busses running to Buchs and Sargans though, the only problem was that I had no idea where either were and what was there. I walked further along the street and the next bus-stop had a rough map, both Buchs and Sargans were in Switzerland which would be a step in the right direction. I didn't think a bus driver would be happy taking a 50 franc note (although in Liechy it's probably small change) so decided to get myself a drink and a snack and some change into the bargain. If I'd wanted a haircut or a new pair of shoes I would have been spoilt for choice but a simple thing like a corner shop was harder to find. I walked up and down the road a couple of times and then found a small 'supermarket' tucked away around a corner. Everyone in there was very friendly with their "gutten morgans" but they were looking strangely as if it's unusual to be walking around a mini convenience store in a mini town in a mini country with back and front packs looking like you spent the night next to a potential suicide bomber.

I went back out and stood at the bus stop for Buchs (it has to have a train station as the train from Feldkirch was heading there) then thought it might be better to go to Sargans, my atlas has neither marked but the bigger train line looked like it was coming the south and Sargans was south so I crossed the road. The bus driver corrected my pronunciation of Sargans and sold me a ticket for the reasonable price of about 3 francs. We passed through the capital Vaduz which looked just as sleepy as Schaan except that the bus stop had more numbers on it and a few people with snowboards changing busses. It was on this bus that I was struck by the thought that there can't have been any one else in the history of the universe who has gone from Hong Kong to London by the same route that I was taking. I'd assumed that Liechtenstein would be mountainous but as the buss crossed a river into Switzerland the scenery improved dramatically and peaks were visible all around. Sargans was also deserted but the bus dropped me off at the (deserted) train station and bullseye! There was not only a direct train to Zurich in half an hour but it continued on to Basel which was my intended target from Zurich. Another nifty multilingual touch screen ticket machine and I was on my way. Liechtenstein, been there seen it, won't bother with the T-shirt.

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