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Published: October 13th 2019
Sometimes people travel to countries to add them to a list of countries seen. We usually don't visit just to add it to our list but seeing as we are in this part of the world with Liechtenstein on our route it would be rude not to visit and see what is occuring. Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north. It is Europes fourth smallest country and just has an land area of 160 square kilometres or 62 square miles to you and me. Its capital is Vaduz and it has a Prince and a castle . It reminded me a little of a tax haven - an Andorra or a Gibraltar where you could pick up your cigarettes and petrol cheaper than in your own country. I doubt we would have made a detour to go to Vadiz but as we were passing just down the road it was silly not to call in and say hello.
So first thoughts on this tiny country landlocked as it is. It used to be a billionaires paradise and tax haven. Perhaps not so now but there were some pretty impressive cars
on the house drives. It is an Alpine country , very mountainous and a winter sports destination. Like Switzerland its neighbour it has a strong financial sector and is aprt of the United Nations, the European Free Trade Association and Council of Europe . Not a member of the EU it does though participate in Schengen which means visa free travel for us. It uses the swiss franc as its currency.
We park up on a massive car park empty at this time of the morning. According to our parking helper app the car park is free for the first hour and 50 cents for every hour thereafter. It is freezing as we get out of Gabby. We have to don coats , gloves and hats. The car park is unattended with the exception of a lady at the gate. She looks like an authoritarian type in her uniform. She dons a hi vis jacket and white gloves similar to ones that used to be worn by police men in the 60's when on traffic duties . She looks the sort of person you dont argue with. No smile , no friendly face . Can you remember those police officers in their blue uniforms , hats and white gloves ?. They stood on junctions and with arm movements directed and stopped oncoming traffic. With an arm wave in a certain direction you could drive straight ahead , turn right or left or stop until instructed to do otherwise .
The car park did fill up on one corner with bus loads of Koreans. Arm waving, walking in threes and fours , cameras at the ready they set off behind their guide . We felt it would not take them long to see Vaduz.
The country like Switzerland remained neutral during the war but we found it interesting to read that citizens of the country were forbidden to enter what was Czechoslakia during the Cold War. It was only in 2009 that relations softened and restrictions were lifted allowing contact with both Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
High above the towns streets was the castle -not open to the public as it is still the official residence of the Royal Family. The road to the city was empty. We walked over the river and entered the shopping area. It seemed as if Vaduz had not woken up. A few shops were open mostly gift shops. Service in them was a bit offhand . No-one manning tills and when they did they just brushed me off saying hang about , we are busy , we will be with you shortly. Shortly dragged on rather too long and we left buying nothing.
At least the first hour was free. We certainly would not have spent any more than an hour . Vaduz city was just too small and too insignificant . I think we shall just have to say another country ticked off and added to a list of countries we have visited . We never did quite work out what there was to see in Vaduz.
I doubt we will pass this way again.
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