"" Writer's Wanderings: 18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Liechtenstein

Friday, October 15, 2010

18 Days Through Europe in an Audi - Liechtenstein

[Summer, 2004]

Liechtenstein is a tiny country of 34,000 inhabitants. It is bordered by Switzerland and Austria. We crossed the open border from Switzerland and found ourselves in a Alpen countryside. Vaduz is the capital but we chose the Hotel Post in Balzers for our two night stay. There are about nine little towns in the country and we drove through most of them, setting out early in the morning to drive up to the ski area in Malbun. In summer, you can take the ski lift to the top of the mountain (6,560 ft. above sea level) and opt to hike down. The view from the top is spectacular. Below us were lush green valleys and behind us, reaching even higher, were snow capped mountains. It was a "Sound of Music" moment.

On our way back down to Vaduz, we stopped in Triesenburg for lunch at a little restaurant that clung to the side of the mountain giving us another perfect view of the farming landscape below. We enjoyed schnitzel and noodles (actually little dumplings) and explored the museum that housed historical artifacts from earlier settlers. Exploring an interesting side road that led to a panoramic view, we found ourselves parked next to a field full of brown cows all with various sized bells around their necks. It sounded like a field full of large wind chimes. I don't know how the cows put up with all the noise but it was a delightful encounter.

We arrived in Vaduz just in time for a City Train ride around the town in a drizzling rain. Unfortunately the prince was not in so we were not invited to the castle (actually, the castle is not open to tourists). The castle sits on a small outcropping of a mountainside that overlooks the town of Vaduz.

That night as we listened to the sounds of Balzers beginning to quiet for the night, I thought about our day and how beautiful the scenery had been. But if I were to remember one thing from Liechtenstein, it would be the wonderful lady we met in the Backeri in Triesenberg. She asked, in German, if she could help us. I replied that I spoke only a little German. She replied that she spoke no English.

"Well then," she said slowly in German, "We will speak with hand signals and smiles." We carried on quite a conversation. She was patient with my elementary German and spoke slowly with a vocabulary I could understand and yes, many hand signals and smiles. When I think of Liechtenstein I will remember the beauty not only of the countryside but of the spirit of that lovely lady.

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