East Switzerland – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland

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I kind of think that Switzerland, as being a rich, famously neutral and cast iron political stability, is very fair and conservative.

But I think all countries might have one city that’s a bit different, just like Tel Aviv is very different from Jerusalem or other parts of Israel.   This might be Zurich.

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A specialist condom shop?

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I heard rumours that Switzerland was to legalise Cannabis, but this came close but was overthrown.   I did catch a whiff of it in one street like any other city, but there is a 100 CHF fine if you are caught with a joint, but bizarrely, Switzerland’s police fine you several day’s salary if with more than a handful of soft drugs. Wikipedia.

I don’t do any type of drugs, mostly because I’ve seen weed produce mental health issues on friends I care about.

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This boat which was an Asian restaurant was pretty cool to see.    Like the rest of Switzerland, eating out is outrageously expensive here.

Zurich has licenced prostitution I’ve been told, on the outskirts of the city with official DSCF0849 1024bus shelter type places.   No, I didn’t venture to find out.

The Swiss Jesus impersonator can be booked for your function according to this random poster.

I’ve seen plenty of crazies and cult groups in both London and Israel, but didn’t expect to see it here.

Zurich needs a simple genuine message of the gospel to the public like every other place.

DSCF0931 1024I think this must be the only place in the western world today that still allows a limited amount of indoor smoking, with this specialist lounge.   This lounge in Zurich airport does this.   Could it because Philip Morris European headquarters is in Zurich, no surely not….

When I was in Basel in 2012, my Swiss friend told me there isn’t much crime, but folks don’t like the police as are overly strict, don’t have any sense of humour, and don’t do much PR work to make them approachable like in other countries.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics –

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The fragrance of Christ

In February I was back to my flat in Harrow, north west London with a lot of things on my mind, about to move house, worries at work and concerns over lots of future plans.

I walked past this street and could smell flowers, like roses on a hot but slightly windy day.   I look around and I don’t see any.  I look around for the second time.   I’m walking in bewilderment.

I then walk on.   After 3 or 4 houses later I can still smell flowers.  It is mid-February and people’s front gardens are not in bloom yet.

Today I’m reading this passage and remembering how the Lord can remind us of his love through experiences that don’t have any tangible reason why.

2 Corinthians 2 : 14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 

East Switzerland – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich

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The Swiss trains and railways system is undoubtedly the best in the world.

You would be hard pressed to find something this neat and efficient that covers all the country, with amazing scenery on every journey.

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DSCF0809 1024AS you can see, the pretty town of Grusch I think is quite typical of many of the idyllic looking villages in Switzerland.

There several characteristics of trains here.    There are several classes of trains with different stock and track like the funicular trains that go up impossibly steep hills.

The platforms are not high.  Often you can walk across flatter parts of the track.   The trains don’t actually go very fast, and the barriers, lights and sirens come on well in advance.   Some of the modern trains have a small motorised platform that appears to help you get up.

SBB is the Swiss railway operator, and it is also easy to buy your ticket using your smart phone and therefore know exactly where you are going and where to change and the right platform.   I didn’t get any pictures of Zurich’s station, but it is huge and has 45 platforms.

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There is a lot of freight I see going past.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things – 4. Train from Grusch to Zurich – 5. Zurich, the more liberal Switzerland

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics –

Liechtenstein 7. bars, shops, Olympics

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Where as Liecht (I can’t actually spell this place without checking) comes across as just as conservative, prim and proper as Switzerland, as well as the biker place I mentioned, there are signs that this little country is a bit rebellious.

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Kind of a bit like your parents are Switzerland and Austria, and they are vicar and lawyer and you are trying to shed your nice boy image, there is a tattoo place and several bars like this one which is aimed at a clientele which a bit different from you expect from somebody who grew up in a cute mountain village.

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This place Micros and the Coop are your go-to places when visiting here.  The main supermarket chains in Switzerland, but also in Leicht.   Eating out is so hideously expensive, it’s simply better to cook yourself as I did later in Zurich.

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Antique shop, actually it’s more like a government surplus place.  There is no army in Liechtenstein.

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These flags were interesting, it mentions “Liechtenstein Olympic committee.”

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GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics

Liechtenstein 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard

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This is the Prince’s castle.  Hans-Adam II is the current reigning monarch of Liechtenstein who is 74 and has been in power since 1989.  Like Monaco, there is no ‘king’ just a prince as a leader, as this asymmetrical building is on a shelf on the side of this mountain.

Interesting enough, he is the richest monarch in Europe with an estimated wealth of US$4B and owns Liechtenstein’s LGT bank.

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You can’t visit here.   As this is his actual house.  Can’t remember and can’t read this sign said.  I can’t see any other entrance, but there is this garden, with some security guards who seemed quite laid back for me to take pictures.    On the other side of the road is a big house which I think is where his servants live.

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Apparently, the prince has a garden party here each year, and locals can join in.

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Families and children are enjoying this park with the castle and the mountain overlooking.   There is one other castle here in this little country but I didn’t get to it.

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Meanwhile back in Vaduz, I saw this vineyard by the main road.   I am not completely certain, but I think this is owned by the Prince, as they do their own exclusive wine in this country, obviously in small quantities.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard – 7. bars, shops, Olympics –

 

Liechtenstein 5. Road up to the castle

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This monument on the side of the road to go up the hill towards the castle shows “Franz I” this is the Prince.  Franz de Paula Maria Karl August (28/8/1853–25/7/1938), was the Prince of Liechtenstein between 1929 and 1938.

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The other side of the hill going up the road to the castle you can see all of Vaduz, and well, all of the middle of the country, the river in the distance is the border with Switzerland.

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This area appears to have quite a lot of rules, but actually, I saw a Porsche and then a high-end Mercedes driving very fast up the zigzag road.    Notice the ‘no drones’ sign.

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To the castle.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle – 6. The Prince’s castle and vineyard

Liechtenstein 4. Small country topography

The cross at the bottom is Grusch where I stayed a couple of nights.   On the top right is Feldkirch which looked nice but was shut until the spring.

I messed around with Google maps to get some 3D maps with terrian.

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Just the orange part is actual Liechtenstein.

When I look sideways at this place with Switzerland behind me, the river is the whole border of the bottom curved edge.   About half of the country isn’t actually habitable as its mountainous, with the exception of a few streets that sit on a shelf.

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The main part in the middle with Schaan on the left and Vaduz on the right.

This country is just 38,000 people, there is 160 square km in this mini country.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography – 5. Road up to the castle

Liechtenstein 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein

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When you think of some of the tiny countries, I think of exotic automobiles and motor racing.   Monaco comes to mind, and maybe San Marino.   Andorra didn’t have many fast cars, but did have some nice wide roads that wind around the mountain scenery.  Liechtenstein has a decent collection of nice motors.

Switzerland is often abbreviated to (CH) or Confederate of Helvetia, where as Liechtenstein is abbreviated to (FL)  = Federation of Liechtenstein.  The cars have an opposite style licence plate with white letters on black, rather than the Swiss black on white.

This American style old school motorcyle place in the Vaduz the capital of this tiny place, is a bit different from what you would expect in a conservative mountainous European nation.

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You can see more of Bobber’s garage and shop here https://bobber.li/ 

These guys were happy for me to come in and take pictures.  I think they were too busy working to want to chat.    Later on, I got to chat with locals in the stamp museum.

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Next to Bobber’s garage is a kebab shop, run by Turkish guys with Swiss style prices.  Everything here is just as expensive as Switzerland.   The cheapest takeaway meal was around I think 14 CHF.    Towards the bridge border with Buchs, was a Chinese takeaway.

Because of the proximity of Liechtenstein between Switzerland and Austria, and the fact that the Germans, Swiss and Austrians like motorcycling, this looks like a great place to ride into and stop here along the way.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography

East Switzerland – 3. Clever Swiss made things

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DSCF0850 1024It’s not just Swiss army knives that show you an example of efficient Swiss design.

There are a few clever things I saw I think are worth sharing.

A street bicycle pump.   This one is large, heavy duty and fixed to the ground and free for public use.

Now the UK 13 amp type sockets are different from the rest of Europe, feel chunky and robust.

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This is a Swiss electrical wall socket, these are close-ish to the rest of Europe also, but only slightly different.   The two pins for live and neutral are the same so a phone charger I bought in a hurry in Hungary will work as it doesn’t have a grounding pin. Devices with three pins will have the middle pin closer to the middle ones.

DSCF0861 1024Also, there are three sockets on a wall plate normally where you would find only one.   Like a Swiss army knife, combine several things in a small package.  These sockets were also seen in Liechtenstein.

Meat slicer.  These are stylish and different as a probably intended for commercial catering.  They are painted with this high gloss paint, which I think means cleaning easy.

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This Swiss horn is an interesting instrument, I am not sure of this is taken apart in pieces or if it collapses like a telescope.

All these things I saw on the streets of Zurich.

 

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Its not hard to find more familiar Swiss craft like watches and chocolate in Zurich as well.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation –

Liechtenstein 2. Getting into this tiny nation

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This is actually Buchs.   This is a medium-sized town in Switzerland.   I got the train from Grusch the town I was staying to get into Liechtenstein.   There is also a railway into Liechtenstein that goes from a different line from Switzerland or Austria.   It’s on a few kilometres away, so I walked in.

I was excited about doing my final (for now) little European country, as it was my goal to visit as many of these (in fact I’ve been to Liechtenstein, Andorra and Luxembourg) before Brexit happens, as I wanted to compare all of the non-EU countries to the EU nations.

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This is the border.   There are flags of the two countries on this bridge over the river.   It wasn’t very windy, and the flags not really visible on the other photo I had.   This one you can see this brass plaque as well.

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DSCF0770 1024The other side of the bridge and past the post office depot is the very pleasant town of Schaan, which is the second largest town here.   Vaduz being the capital.

This country very closely resembles Switzerland from terrain and cultural perspective.  If you get the bus, there’s a place to put your skis.

GERMANY 1. Dachau concentration camp – 2. BMW museum – 3. BMW World futuristic showroom – 4. Neuschwanstein Castle – 5. 1972 Munich Olympics village – 6. Tourism and going out in Munich – 7. Deutsches Museum – 8. Business in the UK, Germany and Israel – 9. Friedrichshafen, a pleasant German town on a lake

SWITZERLAND 1. Trying to do ‘cheap’ Switzerland – 2. The town of Grusch – 3. Clever Swiss made things –

LIECHTENSTEIN 1. Plans – 2. Getting into this tiny nation – 3. Motorbikes, cars and kebab shops in Vaduz, Liechtenstein – 4. Small country topography