11 September 2012

More Zurich and a dash of Vaduz

Some careful planning went in to this trip to get the right balance of time spent in each of the six cities I am visiting. Part of this planning gave me all morning and most of the afternoon in Zurich before taking the next train to the next destination, Vaduz in Liechtenstein.

On that last morning I had some time left on my 24 hour travel card so I decided to head out of town a little way and explore a different area.

I needed a target to head for and some quick research offered the obvious solution, the Heidi Weber Haus by Le Corbusier.

It sits on the edge of a park on the north shore of Lake Zurich just a few minutes away from the centre by tram.

The building is a museum to the works of Le Corbusier but it is only open for a few hours a week and was shut on the day that I went there. I did not mind as I did not have that much time to take in a museum and I could get the lift that I was hoping for from just looking at the building from the outside.

It was more colourful than I expected, I thought that he only did white, but everything else was as modernist as you would expect with lots of glass held together by concrete and an open-plan interior.

Elsewhere in the park there was a brand new playground that again had me wishing that I had brought some children with me and something of a surprise, a genuine Chinese Garden.

The garden was donated to Zurich by the city of Kunming (I've been there) for services rendered.

I did not go inside as I was short of time and I had seen plenty of Chinese Gardens in China. And it was shut.

The park sits along the side of the lake and was busy with joggers and with small children and their carers. In addition to the expected family units I saw two organised groups of around a dozen children each that caught my eye as every child was wearing a brightly coloured band around their necks, much like a mayor's chain. Very safe and very cute.

The park narrowed and widened again as it followed the lake west toward the city. A wide tree-lined boulevard remained a constant feature.

There were loads of benches and several of these were in use even on a dull Tuesday morning in September.

The benches face south across the lake providing both views and sunshine (when available).

The parks continued to have interesting things like a sunken paved area, more things for children to play with and a host of statues, including a very modern and very large blobby thing on top of a mound. I had no idea what it was meant to be, or if it was even meant to be anything, but it made a nice changed from naked men and severed heads.

Heading back in to the centre with no plan other than to get back to the hotel to pick my cases up in time for the train, I found myself once again in Lindehof looking down on the east bank.

Catching the train was uneventful. Zurich station is not that big, the train was on time and I had a reserved seat so there was no need to fight for one.

My next stop was Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, and that meant catching a train to Buchs which is just on the Swiss side of the (invisible) border.

Buchs is probably the ugliest station that I have ever been to.

The last part of the journey was by bus. There was a slight beating of the heart while I struggled to find which bus I needed from which stop but that was quickly sorted and I was soon waiting for the No 12 to Sargas via Vaduz.

The bus, like most buses, stopped regularly and I had to keep a keen eye on street names and my map (a screen print taken from Google Maps on my iPad the night before).

I could have used my iPhone and donated large sums of money to Vodafone's tax-light profits. I didn't.

The smallness of Vaduz managed to fool me and having got off at exactly the right stop I then headed off looking for a proper street called Postgass only to discover that this was the little access road that the bus had dropped me off at.

Still, it gave me the opportunity to see some of Vaduz in the rain while wheeling a suitcase. This is what I go on holiday for.

The biggest upside of being lost (as other people often call my special navigation techniques) was that I found the new parliament building and the impressive plaza that it was set in.

And the most impressive thing about the plaza was the amount of street art in it, all of it modern and most of it quirky. That means that I liked it.

This was my favourite piece and there were others of a similar nature.

The rain clouds meant that it got dark early and so I was able to do little exploring on the first night, other than to find a decent restaurant/bar. In fact I found a very nice one, the New Castle (yes, it had an English name), that kept me happy with a mushroom risotto and some beer.

Then it was back to the hotel (not much further away than the other side of the road) to plan the excursions for the next day having already walked all around the town centre twice. Vadux is a small place.

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