Liechtenstein

I don’t mean to be the boy who cried wolf, but holy cow I think Liechtenstein was my favorite trip of this semester.  Back in January, I vowed to stop in the country purely for kicks and giggles, but recently decided to stay for longer than a day to thoroughly explore.  If you have never heard of Liechtenstein before, have no fear because the country is only 15 miles from top to bottom and has a population of 36,000.  If you look at a map, it is between Austria and Switzerland.  But do not be deceived- this tiny country is easily the coolest that I have visited thus far.  I also apologize for the lack of people pictures in this blog, as I was travelling by myself.

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Seriously, can we just admire this view for a few seconds?

I had an Alps adventure trip planned in my head for this weekend, but did not actually plan out the details until the night before.  I spent two nights in Liechtenstein and one night in Lucerne, Switzerland.  I must start by saying that this was a total Rachel vacation- most people would not think that watching goats for half an hour or going to a Swedish movie with German subtitles is by any means fun.  I think it really says something about how much I loved the place because it was pouring rain the entire time and I was quite sick, but I still adored it.

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A pretty bad picture of the border from Austria into Liechtenstein
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I am pleased to inform you that there was a llama farm close to my hostel
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The iconic Vaduz castle on the hill- pretend you can see the Alps behind it

I bought a tourism day pass that granted me free public transport, free museum entrances, and a bunch of other cool things.  If you know me well enough, you would guess that I of course I made it my mission to use all of the free coupons in the book.  I started my day by getting my passport stamped, visiting the Folk museum, the royal family treasury, and the postage museum.  I then caught a really cheesy sightseeing train that took me around Vaduz, the country’s main city.  After, I hiked up to the castle where the royal family actually lives.  Liechtenstein is one of Europe’s only constitutional monarchies and it is very interesting because the family is very closely connected to its citizens, even inviting everyone back to the castle for drinks on national holidays!  I basically walked right up to the castle and saw people bustling in and out which was pretty neat.

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In case anyone was wondering, this is what a Liechtenstein stamp looks like
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The royal family actually lives here!

Afterwards, I went to a wine tasting at the prince’s vineyards and had the best white wine that I have ever tasted!  I then visited a pottery shop where they gave me one of their pieces, which was pretty sweet.  To make things even more random, I then took a bus to the other side of the country (I am milking this phrase for all it’s worth), stopping by a bird sanctuary at the end.  Here, they had a farm where I literally watched some goats for a half hour.  I then continued my loop around the country and ended at a drop-dead gorgeous meadow on my way to a movie theater where I saw a Swedish film with German subtitles (better than Angry Birds).  Wow, what a busy day, but I would not have traded a minute of it for the world.

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The prince’s vineyard
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This little guy was staring at me for a solid 10 minutes
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The mountains started to peek out of the clouds towards the end of the day
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This is what my walk to the movie theater looked like

A word on the language- The people of Liechtenstein speak German, but it is far from the standard German that I have learned, but rather a dialect that (to a non-native speaker) sounds like another language.  However, most people in dialect areas can also speak standard German, as it is spoken in schools.  At the end of the day, I caught on to some of the pronunciation differences and was quite proud of myself for being able to understand a little bit.  Even so, the general attitude towards my German was more so “An American is learning our language so that she can talk to us” rather than “She has an American accent while speaking our language”.  Also, the people were as friendly as can be!  People next to me on the bus would greet me with a big smile and always said the equivalent of “Have a great day!” and I got the feeling that they whole-heartedly meant it.  The people I met in the youth hostel also made the experience really great.  One bus driver spent a solid 5 minutes trying to convince me that the bus stop that I wanted doesn’t exist only to later admit that he just liked my accent and wanted me to keep talking…  Of course the two other people on the bus got a kick out of this and I had the same driver twice more that day.

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Reaction

Liechtenstein prides itself on being independent from Austria and Switzerland, and I could definitely see that in the culture, making it an extraordinarily unique Alpen experience.  If this wasn’t a Rachel vacation, then I don’t know what is.  You could literally hear cowbells echoing off of the mountains…  But to be quite honest, if other people traveled with me, they might have been a tad bored.  When I told an Austrian that I spent a day in Liechtenstein, they were very surprised that I actually found things to do.  But for me, wow, what a way to end my semester abroad!

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Yes, I talked to this cow for a few minutes.

Good Eats

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The best white wine I have ever had was in the royal winery (courtesy of my tourist card) 

Want to Visit Liechtenstein?

  • Just do it!! And if you do want to go, let me know and I will 100% go again with you…
  • The tourist day pass is most definitely worth it. At the end of the day, I got 3x the original price back in museum entrances, a transit mass, and cool souvenirs.  The movie ticket and wine tasting was included as well!!

 

 

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