Capping off a social experiment that lasted for nearly 2 months — taking weekly international “day trips” while keeping a full time job — I decide to finish off with my most irrational trip yet. No, I have no idea WTF I’m doing at this point, as I’ve descended to a point of madness . . . to travel internationally for just a day, “just because” . . . I’ve become Serena from Gossip Girl.
After ending a 12 hour shift in the ER on a Sunday night, I stare down a bunch of immensely discounted roundtrip flights that would still get me back to NYC within 48 hours (after all, I still have work on Wednesday). Ultimately I decide on a direct flight to Zurich. From there I figured I could take a 1 hour train ride to Sargans, after which I take a 40 minute bus ride to the 6th smallest and one of 2 (the other being Uzbekistan) doubly landlocked countries in the world: Liechtenstein.
I know, it doesn’t make sense; I even don’t make sense to myself anymore. I have zero personal reason to go to Liechtenstein; I have no friends there, there’s nobody to catch up with, and Liechtenstein of itself lacks enough sites for hard tourism. But whatever, it’s also my 99th country.
On the bright side, Liechtenstein is the only country to be completely enclosed by the Alps, it’s almost the size of Manhattan, it’s ruled by a prince, and it’s the richest country in the world (by GDP) with a 1.5% unemployment rate. You can tell I just looked all of that up when I got here.
So after getting out of work at Sunday 8pm, I headed to JFK Airport where I boarded a 10:10pm Swiss Air Flight #15 to Zurich. After 7 and a half hours in the air, I landed at around Monday 11:15am and headed out of arrivals towards the airport’s train station.
A roundtrip ticket from Zurich, Switzerland to Vaduz, Liechtenstein will cost about 85 CHFs.
At the airport’s train station, I boarded the 12:10pm InterRegio 2118 train heading to Zurich’s main train station, getting there at 12:21pm.
Switching platforms, I then boarded a 12:40pm Railjet 167 train heading to Sargans.
Arriving at Sargans Train Station at 1:35pm, I found myself totally alone.
Parked in front of the train station are the distinctive lime green buses that’ll take you to and around Liechtenstein that leave about 3-4 times an hour (fare included in your train ticket if you bought it in Zurich).
The ride from Sargans to Liechtenstein will take about 30 minutes and there’s no official stop to announce that you switched countries; it’s a seamless ride as if there wasn’t even a border all.
Once you’re in Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s capital city, hop off and start walking; the whole town takes about 20 minutes to stroll from end to end.
Mostly a residential town, the main and probably only tourist-friendly part of Vaduz is its walking arcade lined with restaurants, hotels, and museums:
If you feel like you’re up for a quick 20 minute hike, climb up a steep path up the hill towards Vaduz castle. Along the way, don’t miss the simply written boards that describe the history of Liechtenstein and its government.
Formerly an administrative building, it was also a prison, an abandoned property, and a tavern before it became the current home of the ruling prince of Liechtenstein.
Although closed off to tourists as a private residence, it offers great views of the entirety of Vaduz and if not, Liechtenstein.
After spending half an hour at the castle grounds, I decided to head back down to central Vaduz and then southwest to the border river separating Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
I had heard of a perennially open footbridge that connects the 2 countries with nary a guard, sentry, patrol, or even a flag in sight. So I walked about half an hour to check it out.
Once you see it, you see it. It really is an unmanned, unguarded border between 2 countries where civilians and tourists can freely walk, bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage across as many times and as often as they want.
So I did just that.
Watch for the horse poo.
Halfway across the bridge is this pretty neat sign that tells you when you’ve crossed into the other country.
After a 3 minute stroll, you’ll come into Switzerland:
Here’s Liechtenstein from the Swiss side:
Of course, Liechtenstein is tiny enough to get served. And yes, I’m still in my scrubs from working the night before.
After speaking to a few passing Swiss bikers wondering what I was doing here, I turned around and headed back to Liechtenstein.
I would get back on a 7pm bus back to Sargans, from where I would then take an 8pm train back to Zurich to catch my flight home.
And it’s still Day 1, Monday.
There are worse ways to spend a day off.
- At time of posting in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, it was 41 °F - Humidity: 56% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy