Zurich and Vaduz: A foray into last-minute travel

I have noticed a curious phenomenon as spring vacation unfolds. International students hanker after travel, while British students remain bemused. It makes sense. I’m from San Francisco and left famous tourist sites unvisited until I hosted friends from out of the state/country.

One such friend came to visit from the U.S. a few weeks ago. In a Skyping-frenzy before her arrival we searched the internet for last-minute plane tickets. We had the somewhat panicked attitude of two Americans faced with free time in Europe and the cultural imperative to Travel. With ten minutes left before my friend had to go to class we picked Zurich, solely because it was cheaper than the first destination we checked.

A week and a half after we had bought the tickets, we stood outside the airport, Zürich Flughafen, waiting for a shuttle bus that didn’t come. Instead, we took a taxi from the airport and got into the city by midnight. (The wiser among us might consider booking a flight that doesn’t arrive in the middle of the night, then opting for the far cheaper train). What do you do with Zurich, two days, and a student budget?

If you are travelling with a friend and want to be able to hold a civil conversation by the end of the trip, don’t stay out from eight a.m. to one a.m. without a nap. And embarrass yourselves with music only you two like. This is why I have re-enacted scenes from Lord of the Rings in Iceland, and why I have belted out Backstreet Boys across the globe.

We went to Uetliberg, a mountain offering a view of Zurich and the Alps within tram-ride distance from the city centre. We walked around the lake and across bridges, into churches and cafes, and down side streets. We ate at a place called Cakefriends.

Our sojourn into Lichtenstein was impromptu: we had meant to go to the Swiss history museum. The museum happened to be next to the train station, and a quick stop at the tourist information centre told us that the next train to Liechtenstein left in fifteen minutes. Or, more accurately, to the station nearest the Liechtenstein border, Sargans. In an hour we had wound our way through cows, snowy mountains and lakes, all the way to Sargans. A neon-yellow bus was the next victim of our One Direction recital. It took us to the capital of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, population: 5,000.

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We did not spend a lot of time in Vaduz. We ate lunch (garlic cream soup and something involving bacon dumplings), bought some chapstick from a pharmacy, looked around a gift shop, and got back on the bus. My friend fell asleep while I watched the carousel of castles and cows from the window. Eight hours later, we touched down into London; my feet had stopped itching.