Monday, April 28, 2008

A Day Trip to Liechtenstein


Yes, there is a country between Switzerland and Austria. It is absolutely tiny. When compared with the District of Columbia, Liechtenstein boasts only 160.4 km² (62 sq mi) and over half of that is too mountainous to be inhabitable. The size of Liechtenstein is just a little bit larger than Dulles Airport's property. Compare these two maps: Dulles Airport and Liechtenstein.

So, What does one do in Liechtenstein? We wondered the same. There was absolutely no preparation for this trip whatsoever. We just forced the kids into the car and set off. I told the GPS for "City Center of Vaduz (the capital), please", and off we went. This was to take only 45 minutes, and seemingly half of that was headed down the big hill that we were living on.

We showed up in the city center of Vaduz. As far as capital cities go, this was a pretty small affair; but you shouldn't be that surprised that the city center of this tiny country wasn't a major metropolis. We showed up around lunchtime, and waited forever at a table right across the street from

The entry into the country was no challenge at all. There are no border crossing points between Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The border of Liechtenstein and Austria is administered by the Swiss Customs Agency. Liechtenstein has no army, and holds only 34,000 people (that is about as many people as are in the City of Manassas). If there is no border challenge in entry, how does one get the country's stamp in his passport? In order to get your passport stamped, you actually have to visit the tourist office, and pay 3 Francs for each stamp.

We paid for the tour-train; a cheesy tourist truck with wagons that is shaped like a train. These sorts of things appear to be universal. We got a tour of the city and got to see such things as "The Red House" (They couldn't come up with a better name?), the Vineyards that are owned by the Prince of Liechtenstein (which are right next to the Red House). The castle on the top of the hill is the residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein, and is not open to the public. We got a bunch of pictures to share. I'm sure many of you will never have the opportunity to visit this country.


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