Feldkirch, Austria: a great base to explore!
Feldkirch is a pretty little Austrian town near the German, Switzerland and Liechtenstein borders, therefore a great place to base yourself!
After our three-week stay in Konstanz, Germany, our friend Tom drove us to Feldkirch passing through all the aforementioned countries in a one and a half hour journey: driving round parts of Europe can make the world feel like a very small place!
We booked 4 nights at the Feldkirch HI Hostel, in a ten bed mixed dorm. After two months travelling solo and staying in female dorms this was a rude awakening: a random collection of men, all who snored very loudly. A couple of the guys seemed to be resident and the room stank of unwashed, sweaty men. Urgh! Earplugs solved the snoring but the smell was a little more challenging.
Luckily, the spectacular location of Feldkirch meant we spent very little time in the hostel. Aside from all the great places you can visit from Feldkirch, the town itself is attractive and well worth a little explore. We picked up a town map from the hostel that detailed a walking tour and loosely followed it.
This medieval town is packed with charming buildings and historic remains, and has a magnificent backdrop of snow-capped peaks. The trail on the map weaved up and down cobblestone streets pointing out the main sights such as the Katzenturm ( a defensive tower) and the cathedral.
The widest, grandest old street in Feldkirch is Marktgasse, with its arched covered walkways along the sides and fountains down the middle it’s not hard to imagine it bustling with life hundreds of years ago. On a quiet January morning Marktgasse was almost deserted, bar just a few delivery vans and the occasional shopper strolling under the arches.
We walked up to the castle only to find it was closed at that time of day, the view from the entrance over the town was worth the steep climb though and made a pretty photograph.
>>> One day was spent in Liechtenstein, we took the local bus to Vaduz, a short drive down the road.
We had originally planned to stay in Vaduz but I’m glad we changed it to Feldkirch. Feldkirch – for me – is cheaper, prettier and has a better selection a cafes and shops.
On another day we took a train to Schruns, the hour-long journey was somewhat enlivened by a local event, the train was full and everyone was in fancy dress! It was the strangest thing to witness: the train was packed with party-goers, the train drew into a station, emptied, then continued on to Schruns.
Schruns is chocolate-box pretty and the glistening white mountains circling it urge you up to their lofty peaks. It was a gorgeous winter day with a clear sky and a bright sun.
The town was busy with skiers and snowboarders and we followed them along to the ski lift where a packed cable car whizzed us up one of the mountains, passing over ski runs, towering trees and tiny wooden chalets.
At the top we took in the breathtaking view from the restaurant balcony: a cotton wool cloud was rolling in between the deep valley while all around us were the majestic peaks of the Austrian Alps.
The restaurant was heaving with the vibrantly attired skiers, all refuelling on the generous portions. We found a table and gorged on hot apple strudel with custard. That view and that dessert: heaven!
I’ve never learnt to ski, despite two winter trips to the Swiss Alps: my travel budget has never quite stretched to skiing unfortunately.
It was the last proper stop on my winter adventure before heading back to the UK on the train.
From Feldkirch we took a train to Zürich and stayed there for 2 nights, put up very kindly by some friends, before setting off back to London via Paris and the Eurostar.
It had been quite an epic rail adventure for me – maybe not on the scale of the previous big rail adventure (UK to Vietnam) – but still one that taken me to some incredible places, and my first proper solo trip.
Sat waiting for the (delayed) Eurostar, it seemed a lifetime ago that we had boarded the Eurostar at St Pancras, en route to Belgium, on a wet November morning. Back then I’d had no firm plans to where I’d go after Belgium, whether I’d have the nerve to get all the way out to Finland.
I’d found the gumption, and it had been amazing!
By Rachel A Davis