Geneva Back To Zürich

I spent my last part of a day in Geneva buying the last of the souvenirs and finishing up the postcards for the people back home. The main post office in Geneva is pretty amazing, not Barcelona post office amazing, but amazing. It also has a tourism office there which is very convenient.

RWoxMJ7IRfSrTrBH8n+U6g
If you got a postcard from me, it went in there. Die Post! Die!
Y0Xk+uFOQfWAYREOWnmZkw
Like all of Europe, the old look was right on time.

I grabbed a few souvenirs along the shops lining the street and was VERY tempted to get a Geneva only Geneva themed Swatch at the Swatch store. Very tempted. I already have two watches, so I passed. I to this day feel regret. I’m going to have to go back and make it right.

I hopped on the train for the approximately two-hour trip back to Zürich from where I was flying back and took in the amazing scenery that I missed on the trip there due to darkness. The lakes and mountains along with the odd castle along the way make for a beautiful journey. I could really go to Switzerland and do nothing but ride the trains the whole time and still be pretty happy with the trip.

We rolled pass vineyards that I was sure were responsible for the wines I had on this trip to Geneva and the last one. Vineyard-to-table-to-my liver. We don’t many Swiss wines here in the United States and get none out in the hinterlands where I am based so I drank my fill while I was there. They were quite good.

About an hour from Zürich something happened on this trip that hadn’t happened to me yet on any Swiss (or French, or Austrian for that matter) train: a delay. I kind of smelled something burning and figured I was maybe having a stroke. I was fine with that if it was, Switzerland is probably a great place to have one if you must. Soon a few conductors walked through hurriedly with radios speaking into them in German. It was at that moment I realized it was not a stroke, but that was also the moment I had wished I had learned the phrase “abandon train” in German. I don’t normally follow crowds, but when I’m somewhere that I do not speak the language, I figure that it is safer to than not. Everybody else was cool and stayed put, so I did to.

They did make an announcement in English apologizing for the delay. They never said what the issue was, but we were delayed for a little over and hour. If we had been delayed in the countryside, it would have been better since I could have soaked in the views. We were delayed on a siding just outside a train station and the scenery was much more industrial and railroady.

We got to Zürich eventually and I hopped another train and a shuttle bus to my hotel. I spent the evening repacking for the trip home and drinking the last of my recently purchased Swiss wine and cheese. I miss them both so much.

 

Vienna to Geneva By Rail

My quick day in Geneva a few months before had taught me that most of the town is closed on Sundays so planning a full day of train travel on a Sunday seemed to be a good idea. It would be a long day, but only required one train change in Zürich so I booked it.

One of the great things about rail in Europe is how easy it is to get from place to place. That can be a hassle when everyone else takes advantage of it at the same time. I’m not sure if it was the holiday, the weekend, or both, but it seemed like all of Austria chose to travel that Sunday via ÖBB second class rail. I got a reserved seat so there wasn’t any fear I wouldn’t be able to travel, the real issue is a lack of space for luggage bigger than a carry-on.

The train I was on from Vienna to Zürich had started the morning in Budapest and was pretty full by the time I hopped on board. I was lucky to find a place for my suitcase, but others down the line were not so lucky.

The ride through Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland was insanely scenic like before. It almost made up for the length of the trip and the crowded cars. I saw many places I’d like to explore more on a future trip.

The train was comfortable and on time, but by the time I got to Zürich I was sick of being around so many people. The Swiss Rail app has a great feature where you can see how crowded each train is by class, and I was seeing second class of my train to Geneva was pretty full. Feeling very much that I wanted some room away from the crowd, I gave in to a moment of weakness and upgraded to first class via the app while en route to Zürich. I also switched to a later train at the same time. No mad dash to find the right platform, plus since I’d spent quite a bit of time at the main station there a week before, I knew I could grab some provisions.

The quick ride from Zürich to Geneva was much less crowded in first class. I got lucky because at one stop in the trip they made the announcement that several cars of the train would not be making the rest of the journey. Of course I was on one of them. The luck came with me not having my headphones in when they made the announcement, so I had time to grab my suitcase ad relocate to the part of the train that was going to keep going.

Swiss First Class
Much more legroom and much less people in first class.

I arrived on time and walked to two blocks from the station to my hotel. After a good night’s sleep, I’d be ready to explore Geneva on a Monday when things would actually be open this time!

In the future, I may plan to go ahead and pay for first class in advance if I am traveling with a large suitcase. Either that, or use the service that some railroads in Europe have where they will ship your luggage in advance.

Zürich to Buchs

When I first started planning this trip, I was pretty sure that I would not spend the whole of it in Switzerland. It would be very easy to spend 10 or more days in the country and see plenty, but since I was in the area of lots of countries I had not visited, I figured I would jump at the chance to see some of them.

The Principality of Liechtenstein has been a place I have always been interested in. In the pre-internet days, it was a very hard place to get any info about. Your best sources would be almanacs and books about stamps. The information age has not ruined the attraction for me; it just confirmed that there was much to see there.

I did a bit of research and found the hotels in Liechtenstein to be a bit pricey for my tastes, and when I found on that would work for me in Werdenburg, just across the border in Switzerland, I figured I’d take the bus and save about 50 Swiss francs a night. You could even walk there (well, YOU could, I’d only walk as far as Buchs to catch the bus over).

I took two trains from Zürich to arrive at Buchs and the ride was short but very scenic. It went along the shore of Lake Zürich and then along Lake Walensee with mountains all around it. Postcard quality scenery! As we were approaching Buchs, I spied a castle up on a mountain that looked very familiar. It was Vaduz Castle the home of Prince Hans-Adam II.

DSC_0530

I arrived in Buchs around noon and found a bus that would take me the short distance to where I was staying. The room was ready early so I dropped my stuff off and decided to head over to Liechtenstein to pick up a museum/bus pass I found out about online. Well, that’s a half-truth. I sent them an email requesting info and figured they would reply via email. Instead, they mailed me a lovely info packet that gave me all the details!

One of the best deals they have is for 25 CHF (CHF is code for Swiss francs) you can get a Liechtenstein Museum Pass the pass also doubles as a bus pass. With a return trip to Buchs being 7 CHF and entrance to the national museum 10 CHF you only have to find 8 more CHF in discounts to make it pay and that is pretty easy to do. They can be purchased at the tourist info office in the center of town. After getting mine and buying some postcards and souvenirs, I took the bus back to Buchs and plotted my full day in Vaduz.