Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Break Adventures: Vaduz, Lichentenstein and St. Gallen, Switzerland

Crossing borders in EU countries is relatively simple. You need a vignette (window sticker) for most countries that you can buy at gas stations. It is a bit of a honor system, no one stops to check you, but if spotted without one you can be pulled over and it would be a very pricey ticket. Other than that you just carry your passport with you. It was quite similar to crossing a state border in the US, you just pass a sign on the side of the road. (There were remnants of old buildings from pre-EU days but they were typically empty pull offs to the side of the road). Here are the borders to Austria and Germany.

Lichentenstein is on a list of smallest countries in the world and it comes in 6th (only being 62 square miles big). So being only a couple hours away and given the ease of visiting other countries, it was a no brainer to go visit the capital and get our passports stamped.

To get the passport stamp, you just visit the Liechtenstein Center. I had downloaded a map of the capital city Vaduz off their website. We weren't (still aren't) sure where we came into the city at. We tried to orient ourselves using the Vaduz Castle overlooking the city.

Finally, I ran into a gas station for help. We found a parking garage in the area we were directed to. A helpful tidbit of information....the main drag with the Center, as well as, shops and dining is a brick pedestrian road (details.....).

So one of the dining halls at my college was the called the Ratskeller.....so with not much else to go on we decided to eat at the Engel Ratskeller for lunch. They had delicious smelling fondue inside (Lichentenstein does border the home of Swiss Cheese), unfortunately Clarissa thought it was too stinky inside so we dined outside on chilly day. While the food was quite tasty, it was also quite expensive....for the four of us to eat lunch was close to $100usd.....eek (and Mason wanted a second serving.....we said no to that)!

Happy before getting the check...hee hee.

Following lunch we stocked up on our Lichentenstein souvenirs and gifts at several of the shops. Richard chatted with girl at a shop called Hoi (they had really cute, untraditional souvenirs) while checking out. She asked if we were just visiting for a couple hours, he said yes....apparently that is the norm.

In the spring I bet this garden is gorgeous!

So about 30 minutes from Vaduz, is the town of St. Gallen, Switzerland. I found a huge abbey we could visit that was located next to a chocolaterie. So off we headed to St. Gallen.  The crest of the city contains a brown bear.

Unfortunately, our rental car GPS somewhat failed us. We had entered the Abbey as our destination and it took us to the train station. Which did have a Starbucks, so we got an unexpected bonus mug for our Starbucks city mug collection.

We wandered around attempting to find the abbey, we saw some pretty architecture and found a pretty fun playground for the kids to burn off some energy at.

Note my head in the edge of the ladder picture....I think her climbing gave me a couple gray hairs....

Rope obstacle course fun.

The trampoline was their favorite!

We kept wandering around (we definitely had a theme that day...go with the flow) and finally asked a police officer where the Abbey was. She directed us there. On the way we came across a family zone (according to the sign cautioning drivers). There were concrete molded couches, tables, chairs, and fountain all painted red.

Even a concrete vase with a tree planted inside.

Cool windows.

Feels like we are getting closer with these beautiful streets.

Finally, after walking through a boutique district we came across the St. Gallen Abbey.

Unfortunately, everything closes at 5 pm on Saturdays.....oh well. We still got to enjoy seeing the different architecture.

This wall painting caught Mason's eye with the grim reaper type image....(typical for my all-classic-monster-movie loving child.... )

Sadly, the chocolaterie closed while we wandering around photographing the Abbey area....so off we headed back to Garmisch in search of some place open for dinner.

While driving back it started raining and temperatures started dropping close to freezing....beautiful morning snow pictures coming soon......

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