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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This is a close-up of one section of the ceiling. The light green ornate framing is
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.
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.