25-27 July 2019
We gave our neighbours a bottle of red wine in thanks for letting us encroach on their pitch and headed out of Switzerland. We had found it stunningly beautiful and horribly expensive with questionable food, although to be fair we don’t know if the food in Brienz is representative of the country. It is perfect for those who love mountains, lakes, snow and the great outdoors. We have never seen so much paragliding and it is the only place we have felt tempted to try it – if we win the lottery, we’ll come back and give it a go.
To get to Liechtentsein we followed valleys filled with lakes of varying colours – Lungernsee, Sarnersee, Alpnachersee, sprawling Lake Lucerne, Zugersee with pretty little Arth at the end,
and finally Zurichsee, long and vaguely reminiscent of Windermere. We moved from high Alpine to lower, more open areas. We liked the look of Luzern but found the shores of Lake Zurich rather built-up. But we were never far away from views of the mountains.
Despite a 4-hour drive we only actually entered Liechtenstein in the last 10 minutes, crossing a bridge over the Upper Rhine to pass between the Prinicpality’s flags.
We knew it was small but had never really absorbed just HOW small!! The 6th smallest independent country in the world its borders are only 48 miles long in total and the entire western border is formed by the Rhine – 15 miles of it. It is one of only two doubly land-locked countries in the world (Uzbekistan is the other), has one of the highest GDP’s and has more registered companies than citizens (38,000). It has monetary union with Switzerland and whilst the average British salary is £28,000 after tax, theirs is £56,000, which sadly means it is no cheaper – 400g of beef mince €7.50, 225g chicken breast €11.
Our campsite was terraced into a hillside above the Rhine looking across at Switzerland and was a much more low-key affair than our previous site. It also had the occasional British van passing through. We liked it.
On Saturday the heatwave broke and the temperature dropped into the mid 20’s so we cycled into the capital Vaduz, about 4-miles away. What a strange place Liechtenstein is. Some traditional chalet style buildings still exist but most of what we passed was achingly modern.
Small but exclusive private banks lined the road into the capital and it was only as we approached the small pedestrianised area that real old buildings like the cathedral came into view. And of course, Vaduz castle, residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein, perched on a cliff above this tiny capital. We didn’t bother walking up as you can’t go inside.
It had been quiet on the way in but the pedestrianised area of the small centre was relatively busy with surprising numbers of Asian, Chinese & Taiwanese tourists – without them the place would have been deserted. Obviously not uncommon as the Tourist signs were in German, French & Chinese! The shops were full of luxury goods and the restaurants looked expensive.
Not being shoppers we exhausted Vaduz very quickly and forked out a surprisingly reasonable fee for the National Museum.
The small collection was mildly interesting with a good audio-guide and decent value for money in a place not famous for it. The older stuff and way-of-life stuff was the most interesting for us – Danny particularly liked a schnapps still- and there was enough of interest to keep us there for an hour and a half.
After which we treated ourselves to our first junk food since arriving on the continent at the only McDonalds in Liechtenstein.
Back at the camp a couple of British vans rolled up bringing with them some real British weather -the heavens opened and thunder and lightning set in. It poured the rest of the afternoon and right into the night meaning that ear-plugs were essential – the sound of rain on the roof can really ruin a night’s sleep. And that was Liechtenstein.