No airport. No railroad station. A bus is the only way into this small capital city, Vaduz, as the streets in the city center are automobile-free. Vaduz’s population is a mere 5,500. The population of the entire country is about 38,000, which is about 1/16 the population of Luxembourg, which we featured four days ago. Liechtenstein is certainly not the smallest country in the world. There are 18 smaller than it, including “metropolises” such as Tokelau, Niue, and Wallis & Futuna. So in October of 2014 we visited this tiny country and see what it was all about.
Did you know that Liechtenstein is the only country in Europe that lies entirely in the Alps? Images that drew us here were filled with bright green grass and skies/views that were crystal clear. We were in the closest world capital to Vaduz the day before, Geneva, so getting a bus was easy. Once we arrived in Vaduz, we had to wait for another bus that traveled up the mountain, toward the ski lifts. Our hotel was about a fourth of the distance up the mountain. You will notice that we were truly in the clouds for most of our visit…two days. It was foggy almost all of the time, and we walked in the rain on the second day. The mountain views were breathtaking, and the air was cool and sharp. Two days might have been a little too long to be here.
The first photo was taken from our hotel balcony. Notice the Principality of Liechtenstein flag, red and blue with a crown. You can also see the tower of the local church, Pfarrkirche Triesenberg. It looks ancient outside but is quite modern inside. We had to walk through the church cemetery, also shown below, to get to the bus station to go into Vaduz proper. In the second and fifth photos you can see the Rhine River from our vantage point.
The third photo was typical of walkways we found in and around the capital city, shaded with tunnels of trees. Since the culture here and main language is largely German, being situated between Austria and Switzerland, you can see advertisements for typical German foods, such as that for Schnitzelfurst, or wiener schnitzel. In the photo following, high above the city, is Vaduz Castle. Visits are not allowed, as it is the private residence of the prince and his family. After that is a photo of the Parliament building. The Red House is in the photo that follows, and it is a very old house in Vaduz, famous for being in the middle of vineyards and having grape-pressing machines from the 14th century. But, as we were warned several times, ” No entry….private home.” How would you like to live in a private home that buses come to see, and is on every list of things to see? In fact, how would you like to visit a country where all the highlights are in the photos below, and can be seen in about an hour?
We decided to take a bus ride further up the mountain, beyond out hotel, and look at the ski lifts, but it wasn’t very interesting with no snow and none of the ski lifts operating. It was mostly deserted. So we just had lunch there and headed back down the mountain in the same bus that took us up!
The next-to-last photo is an art school. Notice the floating boards in the architecture…it sort of looked like a wooden wood chime! It was very unusual. And the last photo was one of our favorites. It looked like they were saying, “Free Willy!” But no. The first word translates as Voluntary. We are surmising that this is a sign erected by the local community, not the government, and it is suggesting a speed of 30 km/hr when the children are walking to the bus or to school. There are no sidewalks up on the mountain, just a snaking, narrow mountain road with little shoulder upon which to walk. They are looking out for their little ones. So there is our report…we went, so you don’t have to!!!