Travel G-spots

TRAVEL DIARY: Liechtenstein

Who goes to Liechtenstein? I mean do you know anyone in/ from Liechtenstein?

Well, I did. And I do.

But that was not the reason that drew me to Liechtenstein. I don’t think anyone really thinks of going to Liechtenstein (unless you have family there) let alone plans for one’s vacation there.

Frankly, I doubt anyone even realises they are in Liechtenstein, unless an over enthusiastic or amused local or tour guide points it out. And who could blame them when coming through Switzerland? Past Bern, signboards bearing names like Leuk, Gstaad, Flims, Pfäffikon, Fluelen and waiters greeting you with ‘Bitte‘ throws you off into thinking you had somehow taken the wrong turning up north into Germany rather than progressed eastward towards Liechtenstein, only to be thanked in ‘Merci‘!

Liechtenstein was one of those ‘on the way’ destination for me, with the decision to spend lunch at Vaduz – the diminutive Liechtenstein capital. Google-ing for possible things to do or see, my search ended up with an official tourism website and ’13 Things To Do’ by  Trip Advisor. With 13, that’s enough for a couple of hours … {or so I thought}

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Everything about Liechtenstein is ridiculous{ly} diminutive.

I knew the diminutive bit. But I didn’t anticipate how the pre-fix “ridiculous” was going to apply in most instances.

For a start it is ridiculously small at 1/250th the size of Switzerland (or 160 sq kilometers / 16 sq miles) which is low and behold, Switzerland is ridiculously small in itself.

It is apparently the last Holy Roman Empire, which not only had the Romans forgotten about it, so did Liechtenstein’s very own ruling family for 150 years.

And it’s no wonder it disarmed it’s army in 1868, either realising it could beat no one, or if the owners couldn’t even remember this obscure land, surely it would be no lost if it fell into some other reign.

Like most of the neighbouring small countries (a difficult relativity to apply in Europe), Liechtenstein has refined the art of attracting more postal addresses/ box registered companies in exchange for some tax change (12.5% flat corporate tax – the lowest in Europe after Andorra’s maximum 10% tax rate) . Being so successful at this, Liechtenstein has more registered companies (most of which are just papers on someone’s desk) than citizen – legal, illegal and ‘foreign’ settlers for generations.

This however does not make Liechtenstein that ridiculous, but rather the discovery that it is also the world’s largest producer of false teeth and sausage skin.

It also produces ceramics, electronics, textiles, precision instruments, metal manufacturing, power tools, anchor bolts, calculators, pharmaceuticals … but honestly who cares?!? … coz did I not just say false teeth and sausage casing?!?!??

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Arriving on a weekday, I could literally lie on the main road through town, keeping an eye on the ridiculous toy train that brings the odd tourist(s) around Vaduz that can be easily covered on foot at a leisurely pace in less than 30 minutes – a newsagent, a handful of restaurants, a bed and bath shop, a kitchen ware shop, a pharmacist/ chemist, a tourist information center (where for EU2 you’ll get our passport stamped with a fake tourist border stamp – of course I did it and suffered for 24 hours wondering if my entire passport is now void), and loads of touristy gift shops selling all sorts of imaginable physical item ‘stamped’ with either ‘Liechtenstein’ or ‘Switzerland’ including postcards of bikini clad women on the snowy caps of the Alps which your trucker boyfriend with a tattoo of a snake coiling around his flabby biceps would approve off.

The disturbing thing about Vaduz is: even its size does not even earn it the term ‘quaint’.

See, Vaduz is not terribly picturesque, save for the setting of the town which is arresting – nestling at the foot of Mount Alpspitz (6,700 feet high). It  has almost no sense of antiquity despite centuries of backwater presence; with buildings that looked as it they were cast out of moulds and put together in a hurry some two to three decades ago.

Point is: Vaduz is void of any character. There’s nothing in Vaduz that allows you to remember it by … or for me, take any photos.

Wait. Am I even spelling this Liechtenstein correctly? I’ve got those squiggly red underlines going as I type.



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February 2014
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