We finally said farewell to Austria and were on our way to Switzerland. But first, we made a stop in one of the smallest countries in the world.
I’ve always been curious about Liechtenstein; back in school, we were told that it was the smallest country (though that’s not really the case) so I wondered just how big (or small) it actually was. Our guide, Kate, didn’t even have much to recommend about the country, which is more known as a place where companies are set up thanks to very generous tax laws.
It was raining most of the morning as we drove west and across the border from Austria. And really, there wasn’t even much to see. We headed straight for Vaduz, the capital of the principality, and somehow our driver made a wrong turn somewhere and we drove right out of the city and had to turn back. For the record, Vaduz isn’t even the largest city in Liechtenstein; its total population is about the same as my high school (which to be honest is very large).
We were dropped off at a bus station right next to the main thoroughfare in the town center. The rain was still coming down and it was foggy above so we could barely make out the outline of Vaduz Castle, perched high on the hill above us. The Castle itself is home to the ruling family and no tours are allowed. Instead, we admired a brightly colored facsimile near the bus stop.
Kate gave us about an hour to explore, which meant mainly walking up and down Städtle, the main street. I think we may have been more slightly impressed if the weather was better and we could see our surroundings in a clearer light.
Other than shopping for souvenirs, the only other advice that was offered was to hit an ATM; neither Liechtenstein nor Switzerland belong to the European Union so we’d be spending Swiss Francs for the rest of our tour. I did some research before the trip and noted that the only souvenir I was interested in was getting my passport stamped at the Tourism Office. It cost a few Euros or Francs (both currencies were accepted) and such a memento takes up no extra space in my luggage. After that, we just walked up and down the street taking a few photos before heading back to the bus stop.
As we left the city (and the country), we crossed the Rhine, which was just as blue as the Inn when we were in Salzburg. And as soon as we crossed the river, we found ourselves in another country.