Sunday, April 01, 2007

spring break! (liechtenstein)

i remember the first time i heard about liechtenstein... i was all, oh, that'd be cool to go there someday but i guess i'll probably never make it. it's not like france or italy or germany or something huge like that. it's kinda' hard to miss germany when you're in europe cuz the country is so freaking big and in the middle of everything. even if germany isn't your destination, you can still say you've "been to germany" because odds are you had to travel through there to get to where you really wanted to go. but liechtenstein... like, you have to actually be AT liechtenstein in order to go there. it's just so small!






(adam next to the liechtenstein art museum in vaduz)







but then, all of a sudden, there we were. it was quite literally on the way from lucerne to salzburg, even though we didn't plan it that way. we looked at the map and couldn't believe we'd be passing right through the 4th smallest country in europe (after vatican city, monaco, and san marino)! so of course we HAD to stop.


(pictures from our drive between lucerne and salzburg... we pulled over for most of these. notice in one picture (taken from the car) that there is a castle on top of one mountain and a church on top of another:)





















liechtenstein is a tiny country nestled in a lovely little mountain valley, stuck between switzerland and austria. they speak german (or some sort of dialect of it anyway) and use swiss francs as their currency. i don't believe they are a part of the EU. they are actually governed by a prince. and their world capital of vaduz is a whopping 5,000 people (the entire population is somewhere around 36,000 i think).




when we got there, nearly everything was closed for a national holiday (st. joseph day -- no one else celebrates it), but the tourist office was open. we got our passports stamped there (not required at all, but we thought it would be cool and it is about the only thing to do in liechtenstein anyway) and then went upstairs in the same building to see their postage stamp museum, which was free and which they were extremely proud of. afterwards we found a hotel that had an open restaurant and sat outside on the terrace and each had a drink. adam had a local liechtensteiner beer, and i had a glass of red wine that was made in the prince's vineyard which was only a couple hundred meters away from where we were sitting! we just hung out there for a good hour or so, looking across the valley to see the swiss border, and enjoying the quiet little mountain town. in fact, it kinda' reminded me of winter park, colorado. it seemed to be about that size with a similar sort of mountain view, and the downtown was new and modern and clean and open and wealthy... it felt a little like home, but then again, i always feel that way when i'm in the mountains.



after our drinks, we walked up up up the mountain to see the prince's castle. we obviously couldn't really go inside because the prince actually lives there, but we wanted to see it anyway. so we hoofed it up the side of the mountain, enjoying the view of pretty much the entire country from the vistas along the way. at the top we just took a couple of pictures (thanks to the self-timer and a park bench) and then walked down again. and then that was it.

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