Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Road Trip: Part Five: Liechtenstein

Having left the Swiss Alps, we head towards our hotel for the night. To get there, we went through the twee "nation" of Liechtenstein. 

Why, Thank You.
Liechtenstein approached far more quickly than anticipated. Suddenly, Switzerland was no longer, and Liechtenstein was. Not knowing it then, but crossing over the river was the sign of Liechtensteinian entrance.

Getting our bearings in Liechtenstein was super easy. The country is about 24 kilometres long north to south, and is bordered to the west by the Rhine RIver. The south is mountainous, and where all the rich bankers go to ski. We entered about halfway up, near Schaan. Because we could, we headed south to Vaduz to get a peek at the Castle and the capital city. At the (probably sole) roundabout, we saw a matte black Bentley Continental GT. For no reason at all, we deigned it to be the Prince out for a drive. We turned around after exhausting the city, and headed back north.

Castle of the Prince
On the way through the country, a few interesting things were seen. One that made the two Matts super excited was the Hilte Tool Factory. I was awed by the barn buildings and farm housing in the middle of a city. Banks were everywhere (apparently, that's how Liechtenstein makes its money). At one point, other Matt turned to me an asked "Have you been here before?"I answered in the negative, and he threw open his door, put his foot on the ground and blurted "I touched Liechtensteinian soil before you!"


I put my foot on the pavement too. Why not?
Switzerland? Austria? Liechtenstein!

LCH is a bit weird in total. The buses and money are Swiss. The rail is Austrian, as is the long term jail system. The government is actively headed by a monarch. The country is exceptionally wealthy, and only 209 citizens are unemployed (but 2/3rds of the workforce is foreign)! Liechtenstein (along with Uzebekistan) is double land-locked - it is surrounded by other completely land-locked nations. And was founded when a dude wanted a bit more power, so he bought some land and had the Holy Roman Emperor decree LCH to be a principality. I couldn't really see much that defined Liechtenstein as a separate culture. It is small - ridiculously so. Even their Prince's private art collection is housed in Austria.

Soon (really really soon), we had arrived at the border, and the customs building. Matt and Vicki had wanted to get the taxes back from their purchases. However, the man with the gun immediately waved us through with a "Go go go!" attitude. So we went into Austria. I'm not arguing with a guy with a semi-automatic weapon.

Photo of the Moment:

Yeh, I don't know what this really is. But it's Liechtensteinian.

Next Installment: Austrian Tyrolian Alps. Slow pokes and snow hoax. 

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