Monday, October 10, 2011
I have traveled to most countries in Europe. With my recent Balkans trip completed, I didn’t have many places left to help me achieve my 90 under 30 Travel Project goal. But there were still a couple of countries that I hadn’t been to. One of them was Liechtenstein.
The petite principality between Switzerland and Austria was country number 81 on my list. Last week I flew to Zurich, took a train to Sargans, and hopped on a bus to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein.
According to the last census in 2003, Vaduz has a population of 5,000. It wasn’t surprising, then, that the city felt more like a small town than a capital. Its streets were eerily quiet despite the fact that the city was the government seat. But it had its charm, and I was about to discover it.
Vaduz had its fair share of museums, including the quirky Postage Stamp Museum. It housed displays of the country’s famous stamps, as well as temporary exhibitions like a large collection of letter openers.
Nearby was the Art Museum Liechtenstein, a sleek building with an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art and a stylish cafe.
There were a few more museums in Liechtenstein, but with only a few hours to explore, I wanted to see some other areas.
First I hiked to the top of the mountain that overlooked the capital. Perched on the peak was Vaduz Castle, which today serves as the home of Liechtenstein’s royal family. While the complex is not open to visitors, the trail leading up to it offered great views of the city and its famous vineyards.
It wasn’t the only trail, either. Next to the castle was the Via Alpina trail, Europe’s first trans-Alps hiking trail. The path was wide and level, and I couldn’t help spending some time exploring. The beautiful forested land was flanked on one side with thick foliage and on the other with wide swathes of green grass, and I enjoyed a pleasant half hour walk.
Back down in Vaduz, I continued my Liechtenstein tour with a quick visit to the new parliament building, which gleamed golden in the light of the sun. Its modern style contrasted with the nearby music school and cathedral, lending the city the same architectural eclecticism of many of its European peers.
Near them was a large pedestrianized street with everything from shops to restaurants. I found one of the latter and had a sandwich for lunch before hopping on the bus to Sargans to go back to Zurich.
My Liechtenstein travels were quick, but the charming country with its quiet streets and beautiful landscapes won me over. Had it not been for my goal of visiting 90 countries before my 30th birthday, I might never have visited, but I’m very glad I did. If life ever takes me back to the region, I wouldn’t hesitate to go to little Liechtenstein again.