Click on title to view photo in large format. Just a short walk from the historic center of Feldkirch, the Heiligkreuz Bridge leads to these “Im Kehr” listed houses. Built atop a rocky outcropping, they perch precariously over the torrential River Ill. Lest you think I exaggerate, one of the houses plunged into the river on Easter Sunday in 1965. Fortunately, Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. Historic St. Johann Church anchors one end of Marktplatz in the medieval Old Town of Feldkirch, Austria. The devil is said to have dragged Faust through the skylight and down to hell from this church. A fresh market sprouts up on Marketplatz every Tuesday and Saturday morning. Additionally, the street hosts a wine festival during the second week of July each year. Read More
Had I not been on a mission to visit every country in Europe I surely would have bypassed the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein. But I needed it to complete my list, so I decided to ride the Bernina Express train up and over the Alps to Chur, Switzerland. On the map, just a few miles separated Chur from the Liechtenstein border. From there, I figured it would be a breeze to hop over to the capital of Vaduz.
I spent the next couple of evenings scouring the Internet for ways to get there. I could take the train to either Sagens or Buchs, Switzerland, then catch a bus into Vaduz. Alternatively, I could stay in one of the Swiss towns and visit Vaduz on a day trip, but given the sky high prices in Switzerland, I was anxious to leave. Unfortunately, when I searched for accommodations in Vaduz, the least expensive option was a hotel room for $150 per night. Yikes!
I threw myself on the mercy of the sympathetic manager of the Post Hotel in Chur. “There are not many hotels in Vaduz, so they’re expensive. Have you thought about going to Feldkirch instead?” Back to the laptop I went. I learned that Feldkirch is a small village in Austria, located less than two miles east of Liechtenstein. Buses run every 10 minutes to Vaduz and take only 30 minutes to get there. Even better, I found a room in a historic hotel near Feldkirch’s historic city center for $50, including breakfast. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. The first Vaduz Castle was built as a fortress in 1130. Much of this original structure was destroyed by the Ottomans in 1683. When reconstruction finally began 200 years later during the reign of Prince Johann II, it stayed faithful to the original Romanesque style. The old medieval walls can still be seen on the main floor and lower levels. Today the castle is one of the rarest 12th century Romanesque secular buildings still in existence in Europe. Read More
Click on title to view photo in large format. The eclectic architecture in Vaduz was one of the biggest surprises of Lichtenstein. Shown in this photo is The Red House, a gabled stairs structure with a large tower. The house is named for the dark red color that has adorned its exterior since the 19th century. Another example of unusual architecture in Vaduz can be seen on the trail to the castle of the Prince of Liechtenstein. Halfway up the hill, a contemporary house is topped by a wooden latticework that resembles a giant set of vertical blinds. Read More
“I think I can, I think I can!” The mantra made famous by the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, ran through my mind as the Bernina Express train climbed toward the Swiss Alps. I had chosen to make this particular journey from Tirano, Italy to Chur, Switzerland, because it is the only train that goes up and over the Alps rather than through them. Even more astonishing, it does so without the assistance of a cog system – toothed gears and racks mounted beneath train carriages that are normally employed to conquer steep gradients.
It accomplishes the climb with the assistance of the Brusio Circular Viaduct, a true marvel of modern engineering. I’d read about it beforehand, but didn’t thoroughly appreciate its genius until I saw it in person. The track wound around upon itself in a sweeping circle, like a giant slinky. By spreading out the climb in this manner, the grade is kept below seven percent. Read More