Liechtenstein Vaduz

Teeny Tiny Liechtenstein

In public, I try not to be that kind of traveler. You know the type. The one who ticks off countries and locations from some fantasy list, making a special trip out of Barcelona to drive multiple hours just to see Andorra. I’m never going to admit to that dumb move, which may or may not be true. It is. Unfortunately. I like to be a traveler who relishes in the present, who soaks in a place, who makes the extra effort to blend in and get off the beaten track and stumble around a new language.

But then there are days when I’m not that type of traveler at all.

Lucerne Luzern Switzerland

On those days, I open my trusty European spreadsheet, the one I’ve been keeping since moving to the UK. The one where I color code the places I’ve been. The one where I map out strategic ways to cover the most ground in the least amount of time, ticking off countries along the way. I think this strange fixation has partly to do with my planning nature. Yes, it’s real. It’s also partly to do with inevitable time constraints. We won’t always live in the UK, we won’t always be so close to all these places. Must. Go. Now.

Over a recent weekend in Switzerland, I casually dropped in a conversation with Drew that we were temptingly close to Liechtenstein from our home base near Lucerne. A distance that could easily be traveled just for fun, while we’re aimlessly driving around on Saturday. I mean, if we’re going for a drive, why not drive in that general direction? And if we just happen to accidentally drive to a new country, so be it.

Subtlety is not my forte.

Vaduz Liechtenstein

Vaduz Liechtenstein

As luck had it, the weather did not cooperate with our grand plans to climb mountains and view vistas. The clouds hung low on Saturday morning as we warmed up the car for our drive. At which point I casually Googled the distance of Liechtenstein and Drew grudgingly agreed to drive that direction.

An hour later, we were there.

Liechtenstein is teeny tiny. Blink and you’ll miss it. We drove into Vaduz, distance roughly 1 kilometer from the Swiss border, with the aim of doing a little walking and trying our best to figure out why the hell Liechtenstein even exists.

Vaduz Liechtenstein

Vaduz Liechtenstein

Parking was easy to come by, and I blissfully breathed in the air of a new land, while Drew rolled his eyes at the antics. I giggled at the unfamiliar flag, the prominently advertised Postage Stamp Museum, the adorable license plates.

Generally clueless about this small principality, we took turns looking up interesting facts about the country as we strolled around town. Our favorites:

  • The royal family of Liechtenstein still lives in their hillside castle, and once a year, they invite all residents over for a party.
  • The murder rate is one of the lowest in the world with no recorded murders since 1997.
  • Liechtenstein is one of only two double landlocked countries (where the countries surrounding it are also landlocked). The other: Uzbekistan.
  • Neighboring town, Schaan, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of false teeth (about 20% of global sales).
  • It used to be a tax haven for the super rich, but thanks to global banking pressures to be more transparent, Liechtenstein now calls itself a ‘safe haven’ – rich Americans, stick with your questionable practices in other areas.

Bottom line: Liechtenstein is an ideal place to live if you want to meet royalty, are in the false teeth business, or need to get away from a violent family member.

Vaduz Liechtenstein
Vaduz Liechtenstein

After our walk about Vaduz, we stopped at a museum cafe for a caffeine and sushi boost. Then we were back on the road, bidding a quick farewell to Liechtenstein and driving back to Switzerland for a short exploration of Lucerne, one of the country’s most picturesque cities.

I’ve been to Lucerne once before, but it was for a work conference which means I thoroughly know my way around two different city hotels and their conference rooms, but that’s about it. The weather, still uncooperative when we arrived, meant that our energies were low as we trundled around yet another breathtaking city.

Lucerne Switzerland

That’s the thing in Switzerland – everything is so damn adorable you just get used to it.

We strolled around a bit of the lake, window shopped at a seemingly endless stretch of jewelry stores, and talked about the terrible currency exchange rate, which has really impacted Swiss tourism with the poor Euro conversion and weak Russian ruble. Well, when two coffees cost nearly $20USD, you understand why.

Interesting side note: Lake Lucerne is one of the cleanest lakes in the world. You can easily see the bottom and we spent a half hour literally watching ducks swimming and diving for food. Those round buoyant bodies and furiously flapping webbed feet, well, we get a kick out of the most trivial of things. Side note to the side note: the one thing the lake lacks is many fish, as it is too clean to sustain much life in the way of algae.

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne Switzerland

As the afternoon rolled into evening, we took our leave of Lucerne and headed back to our amazing hotel around the lake (more to come on that soon). I was happy to have a new country off my roster and Drew was glad to finally see what the fuss in Lucerne is all about.

Back at the hotel, I discretely opened up my European spreadsheet and made another satisfying mark next to yet another country. Because sometimes we’re just the kinds of travelers we are.

Lucerne Switzerland

Vaduz Liechtenstein

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  • March 15, 2016

    Lovely photos! I don’t blame you for wanting to add a new country to the list given that you were so close!
    Adrienne recently posted…Paradise Found at Le Méridien Bora BoraMy Profile

    • March 15, 2016

      That’s what Julie thought. And frankly, taking an hour drive is not heading too far out of our way to see it. Luckily, it was quite pretty too, surrounded by the Alps, so it was a worthwhile journey!

  • March 15, 2016

    It always amazes me just now small a country Liechtenstein is! How cool would if be to go to the Royal Family’s party?
    Joella recently posted…Fun Things To Do In Newport BeachMy Profile

    • March 15, 2016

      I know, right?
      ‘What are you doing today?’
      ‘Oh, just heading up to the Royal Family’s castle for a party’
      That would be quite the experience.

  • March 16, 2016

    Beautiful images with interesting content.
    rajasthan tour operator recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

    • March 17, 2016
      Julie

      Thanks very much – we love getting off the main highways from time to time!

  • March 18, 2016

    What a cute post! I completely forgot Liechentstein is a place I have to tick off my list of countries to visit in Europe too! 😉 This statement left me mind-blown by the way: “Liechtenstein is one of only two double landlocked countries (where the countries surrounding it are also landlocked). The other: Uzbekistan.” I never realized there are so few neighbouring landlocked countries. I explored the world map and it’s true. Mind… Blown… 🙂
    Dominique recently posted…Bonaire – Kralendijk and RinconMy Profile

    • March 19, 2016
      Julie

      Haha Dominique – yeah, we were just wandering around trying to figure out why there was an actual country here for real, and that’s the random stuff we found online 🙂

  • March 19, 2016

    I visited Liechtenstein many years ago on a trip through Europe. I’d love to go again because I thought it was really great – however small. The town is really walkable and scenic.I can definitely understand why you’d want to visit there, even for a day.

    • March 19, 2016
      Julie

      Thanks Laura – I also hear that there are other areas (other than Vaduz) that are pretty cute…and pretty quick to get to!

  • March 19, 2016

    Hah! This post cracked me up! “If you just happen to accidentally drive into another country…” That’s the nice thing about Europe, right? You can just motor in one direction and hit a bunch of new nations in a matter of hours! In fact, while I also abhor the “Bucket List” concept, Liechtenstein has been on my “list of places I’m intrigued to visit” for quite a time. Fun to see a sneak peek of what it looks like and get background facts!
    Lillie recently posted…Lovely Vineyards of the Finger Lakes, New YorkMy Profile

    • March 19, 2016
      Julie

      In all fairness, we barely gave Liechtenstein a chance – I mean, a couple hours is nothing. And I have heard some great things from other people if you have more time to explore it thoroughly – not like that would take much time either!

  • March 19, 2016

    Sometimes I wander if Liechtenstein has ever experienced good weather :-D. Was there twice and the climate was just like the one you’ve found. But this made it more interesting and… mysterious!
    thank you for sharing

    • March 19, 2016
      Julie

      I just got the best idea for a life video feed – Weather in Liechtenstein. It would probably be a hit thanks to people like us who wonder this kind of thing!

  • March 19, 2016

    This is what happens when you travel in Europe, you visit many countries!

    I’ve actually been to Liechtenstein, like you, while on a trip to Switzerland. And did it on purpose! I know it’s a small country but I’m European and want to get to know the rest of Europe.

    There a few things worth visiting and spending a full-day there is not that difficult. The weather wasn’t exactly nice (again!) up in the mountains but I’ve heard very good things about the mountain part they have. Both for winter sports and hiking.

    Cheers!
    Hugo recently posted…Trinidad: a burst of colours under the rainMy Profile

    • March 20, 2016
      Julie

      Someone else told me that they also visited when the weather was just so-so. Now I’m convinced that the whole country is shielded in a layer of cloud at all times 🙂 All kidding aside, I’ve heard that you can easily spend much more time in Liechtenstein than I did and have a fab time!

  • March 19, 2016

    Tiny place but you still managed to get some good photos.
    I was once almost going to visit the place, but my friend protested saying there was nothing to do.
    Monika recently posted…Glossary of Modern TourismMy Profile

    • March 20, 2016
      Julie

      Thanks Monika – yeah, I’m not convinced that it’s the most bustling place on earth, but I have heard that there’s more to do outdoors than we had time for!

  • March 19, 2016

    I love your style of writing, Julie! 🙂 You made me laugh throughout the post! I must admit (shamefully) I have never been to Liechtenstein and I am Swiss. Oops *hiding my face right now*. I guess it’s just one of those things…if you want to travel, you often choose to travel outside of your own country and even though Liechtenstein is technically seen another country, it is just too similar to what I have seen everywhere in Switzerland. To me (and Liechtensteiners will hate me for this comment), it’s ‘just’ another Swiss city……

    As for your comment about ‘that type of traveler’….hmmm…i may or may not be that type of traveler myself sometimes………… 😉

    • March 20, 2016
      Julie

      Tess, you should have seen the horrified faces on the hotel staff when they asked what we did that day and we admitted to driving to Liechtenstein. Then we got the normal answer – oh, you Americans are so happy to drive for hours on end without much fuss (seriously I hear this more than you would guess). And of course, it does feel very Swiss – currency is the same, language is the same, makes me wonder why it’s still its own thing!

  • March 20, 2016

    I have to admit, I drove from Barcelona to Andorra just for a weekend!! No shame on that, I´a m Brazilian, I Can’t miss the chance to see snow 🙂
    Like you I do not collect passport stamps, neither I´m worried about pinning all the countries in the world. But I would never miss a chance to visit a place, especially knowing that is so close and so tiny. Well done!!
    The photos make me miss Europe!!
    Happy travels!
    Nat
    Natalie Deduck recently posted…Thai Islands: 11 Reasons to Travel to Paradise at Least Once in a LifetimeMy Profile

    • March 20, 2016
      Julie

      Glad to know I’m not the only one, Nat, who did that drive to Andorra – and you at least had the snow to look forward to (if I was a skier, I know you can get great deals on ski equipment in Andorra!). Being from huge countries I’m sure we both have that attitude – if it’s right there, you can’t not go, right?!!?

  • March 20, 2016

    ha ha i llove was just looking at the map of Europe and noticing that little dot in the middle of the map i have not been too. Yes i would drive from anywhere within distance just to tick it off lol

    • March 21, 2016
      Julie

      That checklist pull can be strong sometimes. But I rarely regret the extra small bit of effort to see a new place!

  • March 21, 2016

    I really love your photos. I laughed at the false teeth business line, don’t think I’ve ever read something like that before! I do love ticking off another place off the globe too, its quite satisfying if its a place thats not often visited.
    Mar Pages recently posted…Swept to winter romance at The Ritz Carlton Half Moon BayMy Profile

    • March 21, 2016

      I am opposed to “country counting” in some respect, but it is so tempting when you are so close to another country!

  • March 22, 2016

    I know this is bad to admit out loud but I keep forgetting about Lichtenstein when i’m thinking of that part of Europe! (I’m a bad European!) It does sound like a lovely place for a day trip if you’re nearby.
    I love that the royals throw a party! Can’t see Elizabeth doing that for me anytime soon 🙁
    Claire recently posted…What I’ve Learned from 1 Year of BloggingMy Profile

    • March 23, 2016
      Julie

      I was thinking a lot about that Royal family while we were hanging in Liechtenstein – I mean, it’s still like 5,000 people to invite to the party. And do they act like ‘normal people’ in town? Grocery shopping? It’s not like they have a lot of official business to attend to!

  • March 22, 2016

    Your photos are gorgeous and make me miss Europe. I have lived in Switzerland and guess what! I haven’t been to Liechtenstein! Such a shame.
    This time while planning for eastern Europe, we have included Liechtenstein as well. So looking forward to this little tiny country. 🙂
    Nisha recently posted…Mumbai Heritage WalkMy Profile

    • March 23, 2016
      Julie

      You aren’t the only one! No one who we told at our hotel had ever been their either – and they were puzzled with why we bothered!

  • March 24, 2016

    We are spreadsheet sisters, LOL! Love them 😉 I so want to visit Switzerland, but it’s just so darn expensive. I feel like I’d spend the same for a long weekend as I’m about to spend on two weeks in SouthEast Asia. Someday, though…

    • March 28, 2016
      Julie

      Haha – I’ll show you my spreadsheet if you show me yours!

  • March 29, 2016

    Great information about Liechtenstiein – at least, you no longer have to wonder what the country is like.

    • March 30, 2016

      An interesting little country full of bizarre facts and figures. Also, the surrounding Alps mean it is actually quite pretty as well. Who knew?

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