Well, it was the the 6th smallest country in the world, but still! It took a little over 3 hours for my sister and I to walk 9 miles from Austria all the way across Liechtenstein and into Switzerland.
I was a little bit skeptical at first. The idea had just popped into my head when I was looking at the map and saw how small the country was. I initially proposed it as a funny thought to my sister, but the more we talked about it, the more convinced we were.
It wasn’t until the night before we had planned on going that I started contemplating the rationality of our plan. Was there even a place for us to walk? What if we got stuck on a shoulder- less highway? What if we get stranded and my phone didn’t work because I was in another country? I turned to Google to find documentation of others’ experiences, but I didn’t find much. Almost everyone who had made the trek across the country went during the summer and on a hiking trail, which wasn’t an option for us because of the snow. One person walked alongside the road, but he found it difficult because there hadn’t always been a designated pedestrian path along the way. He had taken a different route than we wanted to take, though.
When I went to sleep that night, I had talked my self out of it and I was almost positive that I would not be walking across Liechtenstein the next day. I had this image of us shoveling through the snow and getting stuck with no cell phone service after sunset. I thought it would be better if we just started in Feldkirch, Austria, spent some time there, then took a short 15 minute train across Liechtenstein and into Buchs, Switzerland. I figured the view from the train would be just as good, and it would be better to experience the country from a comfy warm train seat anyway.
The next morning, my sister and I left Innsbruck, where we have been staying the past couple of days, and took the two-hour train to Feldkirch. Feldkirch is the western-most city in Austria, so it’s as close to the border of Liechtenstein as it gets. We decided to spend some time there and walk the town, explore the Christmas markets, and get some breakfast.
A couple hours later we were heading back to the train station to catch the train across Liechtenstein, when we got a glimpse of the mountains. “They’re calling me!” my sister said excitedly. I typed in Buchs, Switzerland into Google Maps and sure enough the route we had planned would lead us straight towards the snow capped mountains in the horizon. My sister got really excited, and within a couple minutes we decided to change our minds once again and revert back to our original plan. The weather was pretty nice, so we agreed we would keep walking until it got “sketchy.” Worst case scenario, we would just turn around and go back. Still hesitant, I “proceeded on the highlighted route.”
|The start of our journey towards the mountains!|
A few minutes later, I noticed an old man walking behind us with some Christmas presents in his arms. I figured a local would definitely know if the journey were feasible, so I decided to turn around and ask. The conversation went roughly like this.
“Excuse me, are you from here?”
“Yeah from the area.”
“We want to walk to Switzerland. Is that possible?”
“Yeah! You have to go through Liechtenstein.”
“We want to walk all the way through Liechtenstein and to Switzerland. That’s possible?”
“Yeah of course it’s possible it’s just a few kilometers that way.”
Points at the mountains
“And we can walk there?”
“Yeah of course! I used to do it all the time as a kid to go buy things from over there. Go! Have fun.”
“Merry Christmas, Bye!”
And with that, I felt a lot more confident as we made our way towards Liechtenstein.
When we got to the border, I asked once again if it were possibly to keep walking through, and the woman at border control smiled and said, “Of course.”
The most surprising part of the journey was how straight forward and easy the path was. In the United States, it really wouldn’t be possible to walk for long distances because our roads are made strictly for cars. From Feldkirch all the way to the border of Switzerland, though, there was a wide and comfortable sidewalk for pedestrians. Although we didn’t see many people walking, it was very possible, safe, and comfortable to do so. There was a gas station along the way which we stopped for water at, and several little towns with cafes and restaurants that we could have stopped at for a break. After we got our water, though, we were really determined to just keep going.
The path was beautiful, and I would recommend walking it to anyone. We also got really lucky with good weather, which made our walk that much more pleasant. Here was some of the scenery along the way:
Border between Austria and Liechtenstein:
Border between Lichtenstein and Switzerland: (we were on the opposite side, which is why it says Lichtenstein again)
That’s Vaduz! We made it right in time for sunset. Our conclusion was, that although Liechtenstein is a beautiful country, its capital is quite underwhelming. Maybe it’s just because we were there the day before Christmas Eve and a lot of stores were closed, but it didn’t seem like there was much there.
|Schloss Vaduz in the Background!|
We walked around the town, and after the sun set, we decided to get a hot drink. My jaw dropped wide open when the waitress told me my small cup of hot chocolate was 7 Euros! I had ordered without looking at the menu, so I went back to check other prices, and that’s when we learned how expensive things in Liechtenstein were. We walked around the small Christmas markets afterwards and compared prices to other markets we had visited; the cost of a mulled wine or a waffle was almost double the norm.
Tired after a long day, we headed back to the train station where we took a bus back to Feldkirch where our journey had begun just earlier that day. It was a long but a great day in three different countries with my sister!