Okay, it’s the last day of the trip!

Yeah, there’s still tomorrow but that’s literally just me getting home from Europe.

I mean, I’ll still blog about it, but today is essentially the last day of my Balkan Trip 2023.

And I’m not in the Balkans anymore!

The 20 hour layover ends

My flight from Kosovo landed yesterday afternoon in Vienna for a 20 hour layover and this morning my layover ended bright and early.

I had an eventful afternoon and evening yesterday and I was in bed by 10pm.

Just enough time to get a full night’s sleep before having to leave the hostel this morning at 6:30.

It was a weird adjustment coming from the hot weather day in and day out the last 6 weeks to the weather in Vienna last night.

I woke up a few times through the night shivering my ass off.   I’m just so used to being hot at night that I just used the sheets as a cover instead of the comforter they supplied me.

Won’t make that mistake again tonight.

Anyway, my layover came to an end and I left the hostel at 7:15 to catch a 7:50 train to the airport.

Just enough time to grab me a gluten free Double Bacon Cheeseburger.   Yeah, that’s right.   Austria has gluten free buns available in their McDonalds.

I grabbed it to go and ended up eating it at the airport half an hour later.

I’m just gonna say, cold burger and fries, even with a gluten free bun, don’t taste that good.

A disappointing breakfast for sure.   Guess that’s what I get for going to Mickey D’s.

It was strange boarding the train with all the commuters on their way to work on a gloomy Tuesday morning.   It really hits home how lucky I am to be out here traveling and seeing the world while they’re on their way to do their day to day.

At the airport

I arrived at the airport at 8:15 for my 10:00 flight which was plenty of time.

One of my bags was even redirected to a secondary check through customs and I still had over an hour to kill.

By the way, a sunscreen bottle in the backpack is a liquid.   Duly noted.

During my free time at the airport I, of course, ate that dismal cold burger but I also popped together last night’s blog.

I actually finished up the last paragraph as I was sitting on board the plane just before I lost the free airport wifi.

Phew, just in time.

At 10am we were on our way to Zurich.

Speeding through Zurich

We landed in Zurich at 11:30am and, thanks to not having to wait for checked baggage or going through customs, I was on a train out of the airport at 12:15.

I was headed to the main train station in Zurich but I was heading straight out of there.

We got to the train station at 12:25 and I had to quickly find where the baggage storage was and get a ticket for a train out to Vaduz, Lichtenstein just 13 minutes later.

And, you know what?

I actually managed to do it!

With 3 minutes to spare too!

Yep, I was heading to Lichenstein!

A Lichenstein plan is hatched

My flight home tomorrow is from Paris but when I was planning my trip, I had to figure out how I was going to get there from Kosovo

Obviously the first thing I looked up was a direct flight from Prishtina to Paris.   I can’t remember now but it either wasn’t a thing or it was ridiculously priced.

Either way, I would have to find a different path to Paris.

So, I started looking at cities close to Paris like Amsterdam and Brussels figuring I could fly there and just take a train into Paris.

That’s when I discovered the flight to Zurich via Vienna.   Not only was a cheapish flight but it gave me a night in Vienna and it also gave me a night in Zurich.

Now, I’ll be honest, Zurich isn’t really anywhere near the top of places I wanted to visit.   To me, it’s just another western European high priced city.

But, it did offer an interesting opportunity to visit nearby Lichenstein which is a country I’ve never visited.

So, I started planning the Zurich to Lichenstein connection a couple of months ago.

How was I going to get there?   Where was I going to go?   What was I going to see and how was my timing all going to work out?

Now usually I don’t really plan a day point to point throughout the day but today was different.

I needed to be on my game today to make sure things worked out as I had limited time to do everything I wanted to do.

Catching that 12:38 train as I had planned was a big first step…

Hello Lichenstein!

To get to Lichenstein you have to take an hour train ride to the Swiss town of Sargans near the Swiss/Lichenstein border.   From there, you catch a 20 minute bus into the city of Vaduz.

It was about 2pm when I arrived in Vaduz and the fact that I actually made it here brought a big smile to my face.

I mean I had planned this a few months ago.   I knew which train and bus to catch, where the bus stops were and where to go once I got here.

And here I was seeing it all live now.

It’s amazing when you think about it – you can plan a visit to any city in the world and just do it.

I had a goal of ticking Lichenstein off my country list and I’ve accomplished it.

Country number 51 is officially unlocked!

Now, as for Vaduz…

Well, for one, everything is super expensive.

Gone are the 30c waters I was buying just last week, now the bottled water I bought was 3.50CHF ($6).

And food…

Well, we’ll get into that in a sec…

I walked down the main little street and took in the sites.   There’s a church, the parliament building, a bunch of little shops and restaurants and further down the street is the Red House built in the 14th century.

All of that took about a half hour to see.

The big “highlight” of the town is Vaduz Castle lying high above the city.   It takes 15-20 minutes to walk up there and, well, let’s just say as far as castles go, this one was a bit of a disapointment.

It was currently under renovation so half the castle was covered in scafolding and, oh yeah, you couldn’t enter the grounds.

So, yeah, you literally walk up there to see one facade of the building.

Maybe I’ve just seen too many castles at this point and I’m all “castled” out.

So, let’s talk about food…

A futile search for food

With all the planning I did for this little day trip, I certainly did spend some time looking up where to go for lunch.

My plan was actually not to have lunch in Vaduz at all as the prices are exhobinant.

The plan was to pick up some McDonalds burgers in Zurich and bring them with me to snack on in Vaduz.

Problem was I had that burger this morning for breakfast and it wasn’t great and I really wasn’t craving any more McDonalds today.

So, I decided to wing it and just see what was there when I got there.

Well, considering I had already figured out eating there wasn’t really an option, I don’t know why I thought winging it would be a great idea.

It wasn’t.

To set the price point for you, the plate of donair I had just a couple of days ago in Kosovo for under 5€ ($7) I found priced at 22CHF ($33).

Yup, a donair plate for 33 bucks.

I went to a restaurant that was serving a limited menu and their salad was 18CHF ($27).   Not a salad meal with protein or anything like that.   Just a starter salad.

If you wanted a sandwich, it was 16CHF ($24).   No sides included.

You get the idea.

Lichtenstein ain’t cheap.

I finally decided to just skip lunch even though I was starving by this point and just head back into Zurich an hour earlier.

And then I found a miracle!

As I was walking to the bus stop I came upon a COOP grocery store.

I went inside and took a look around.

And there it was…

A 200g package of smoked salmon for 4.95CHF ($7.50).

It would have to do.

And for someone who was starving, this smoked salmon hit the spot.

So, yeah, that was my great meal in Lichtenstein.

Overall, Lichtenstein proved to be what I thought it would be.

There’s not alot there and everything is expensive.

I think most tourists, including myself, visit the country just to tick it off their country list.

No shame in that.

Hello again, Zurich

I left Vaduz at 4pm and got back into Zurich around 5:30.

Now all I had to do was pickup my bag from storage and head to the hostel.

Easier said than done.

The Zurich main train station is huge!

I could not for the life of me get any sense of direction and ended up walking around the station for a good 20 minutes looking for where I had dropped off my bag.

I finally found it with a huge sense of relief and after picking up my bag, I finally headed to my hostel to checkin.

It’s a good thing I left Vaduz an hour early as my checkin process took 45 minutes.

I was again in a “meat market” hostel, this one with 6 floors and God knows how many people staying there.

There was only one guy checking in people and the line was 6 deep when I arrived.

And he was soooo slow.

Finally a second guy came to check people in and I got checked in to my bed.

I went up to the room to find it was a bed in the wide open and not a bunk bed.

I kind of like being bundled up in my own little cocoon bunk when I sleep so I headed back down to ask if I could switch beds.

Of course there was still a line so I waited.

After switching beds, I went to set up my things only to discover that their plug outlets were not as wide and didn’t allow me to plug my converter in.

Sigh, back downstairs again.

A converter would cost 6€.

Sigh, back up to get my wallet and back down again.

Guy I was going to buy the converter from left the desk so now I had to wait for the other guy.

And wait…

Thankfully, I was actually able to talk him into just lending me an extra converter he had in the drawer so I saved myself 6€.

Through it all though, it took 45 minutes before I was finally settled in.

Time enough to shower and get ready for dinner.

And what a dinner it was…

The most expensive dinner I’ve ever had

As a little tradition, I end my trips with a nice meal.

Before I even leave for my trip, I’ll search out tasting menus in my final city.

I don’t necessarily go to a fine dining restaurant but usually those just happen to be the restaurants offering those multi course dinners.

Because everything is so ridiculously expensive here in Zurich, I opted for an a la carte restaurant because the tasting menus around here were going for $400-$500.

Of course, even ordering a la carte off the menu can turn into an expensive experience as I’d soon find out.

The place I chose was Rüsterei restaurant a couple of metro stops away.

I had chosen them because they had a pretty diverse menu but was also recommended for people with gluten allergies because they had allergens listed on the menu and the staff was knowledgeable about the allergy.

I got there a bit early for my 8pm reservation and the waiter at the front desk mistakenly assumed I was there to have a snack and drinks in the cantina.

Nope, I was here for a full on meal.   Seat me in the nice dining room.

I was greeted by Linda, a server from Hungary, who spoke perfect English and to my relief seemed at ease with my gluten allergy.

I knew the menu prices were high, and at a certain point, I just closed my eyes and selected the menu items anyway with no care for the price.

And then I just took my sweet time over the next 90 minutes savoring each bite.

This was the meal…

Pimms Cup, the best drink ever!

Gluten free bread with hummus

Alpine pike perch ceviche with avocado, pomegranates, red onions & cilantro

Sweet potatoes from the embers with cashew nuts, chili, lime & maple syrup

Pumpkin from the embers with apples, pecan nuts & sage

Deer entrecôte with figs, chestnuts & gin sauce

Hazelnut Ice Cream w/ Baileys on ice

In total, my bill came out to a 129CHF and with an additional 20% tip, 155CHF, which works out to a whopping $240.

Yup, I’ve definitely come a long way from the Balkans!

I got back to the hostel around 10pm and got everything packed and ready.

I only had 6 hours here to sleep and I was checking out at 5am tomorrow morning.

It’s time to get back home…

Balkan Trip 2023, Trip Journal, Zurich, Switzerland, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Balkans 2023
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