Northeast

Picture of rheinfalls A little ways northeast of Zurich in the Schaffhausen Canton of Switzerland is the largest waterfall in Europe. Named Rheinfalls (it is on the Rhine river) it isn't necessarily all that high (23m / 70ft) but it is wide and there's a tremendous volume of water involved. The town across the river is Neuhausen (a suburb of Schauffhausen).
Picture of rhine_platform Apparently they are quite crowded normally, although on a random Friday in March, at 9:00 AM we saw no one else at all until we were leaving. The south bank (where these pictures are from) offers a much more impressive spectacle than the north bank. You'll also see the beginnings of two running themes for our Switzerland pictures. The first is the crane in the background in the upper picture. The second, in the lower picture are Joe and Kelli, mostly because they were travelling with us.
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Picture of stein_houses Just a bit east of Rheinfalls near the border with Germany is the highly touted (by tourbooks) village of Stein-am-Rhein. Known mostly for its well-preserved buildings, it features a ridiculous amount of frescoing (such as that shown in this picture) and a whole slew of clocks, weather vanes and impressive gutterspouts.
Picture of stein_rathaus This is the rathaus (town hall) in the main square. We cut the clock out of this picture to try and avoid all the cranes towering behind the building. Switzerland really likes cranes. You'll see a lot of them in these pictures despite our best attempts to avoid them. While Stein-am-Rhein was impressive at the time, after visiting quite a few other Swiss towns, it really isn't much different from several others. If the reports of massive tourist over-crowding in season are true, one would likely be better off elsewhere. Bern, for instance, features many of the same charms seen here on a larger scale.
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Picture of gallen_abbey Not a major tourist destination at all is the city of St. Gallen. It has a lovely pedestrian-centered old town, there was a thriving vegetable market while we were visiting, and it features quite possibly the most fascinating cathedral in Switzerland. This is the convent of St. Gallen, located just outside the city center. When we ate lunch in St. Gallen the waitress convinced us to try what she called a speciality of the St. Gallen region - a bratwurst in onion sauce served with rosti. It was quite good although we saw the same menu item practically everywhere in Switzerland so we aren't really sure how much of a regional dish it really is.
Picture of gallen_roof The convent features several buildings including this smaller church which isn't very impressive inside but has a rather nifty bit of tile work on the roof. The library is the only building which has an entrance fee (and a substantial one at that) but it does have a uniquely opulent interior.
Picture of gallen_cathedral If you've seen one too many gothic cathedrals elsewhere in Europe, St. Gallen has something a little more.. baroque. No rough stone columns or ancient stained glass windows here. Every available surface has been decorated within an inch of its life. The clear windows allow sunlight to stream in so you can actually admire all of this as well.
Picture of gallen_ceiling This is a close-up of one section of the ceiling. The light green ornate framing is actually copper.
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Picture of liechtenstein At the far Eastern end of Switzerland huddled along the Austrian border is the tiny independent nation of Liechtenstein. There's not a whole lot to see here but there is the novelty factor. This is the royal castle which is not open to the public because Liechtenstein is ruled by a Prince (Hans Adam II currently) who lives there. The castle is perched on a cliff above the capital city of Vaduz.
Picture of vaduz Here's a slightly wider view which of course features a crane. Besides their love for cranes, the Liechtenstein people share bus and mail services, as well as currency with the Swiss. They do have one ski area as well (in the higher Alps in the background). With your own car you can drive both major roads in Liechtenstein in about an hour. Vaduz is the only town with any major services, and there is effectively no border with Switzerland, just a welcome sign as you cross a bridge.
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