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A family getaway to one of the smallest countries in the world
Spending the night in Liechtenstein would have been far too expensive for our tight budget so my mom did what she does best and pre-booked my brother, herself and I an apartment in Austria, about 15 minutes drive from Liechtenstein.
I had decided to use the Pink Yak, my rally car which I drove from England to Mongolia and back again with back in 2016 as the car of choice for my mini family vacation. My mom met me in England and we crossed the channel and drove to France where we picked up my brother. It was my brother’s first stamp in his passport and he was excited to explore Europe for the first time although it was to be a short 10 day whirlwind trip.
I began the tour and eventually we wound our way through the beautiful Swiss Alps en-route to Liechtenstein. We got the keys to our apartment in Austria and marveled at the stunning view. It seemed as if we had the mountains all to ourselves as our peaceful apartment was located in a quaint village for people who used the place as either a retirement home or a summer home.
The view from our indoor patio was breathtaking and we all agreed that a second visit one day in the future would be required. The next morning we piled into my Pink rally car and drove through Austria and a brief stint in Switzerland to enter Lichtenstein. The first thing we did was go to the city of Vaduz to check out the down town area, grab some breakfast and a coffee and head into the Tourist Office for information (and a Visa Stamp!) We explored the city and decided we could walk by foot to the castle on the hill top above. My brother and I began the walk uphill while my mom took the car to meet us at the top. After getting lost and not able to find the correct signage to the castle, we eventually ended up on the correct path and found the castle.
The castle was beautiful and we took a few nice photos there but because the Royal family of Lichtenstein still lives there, it is blocked off completely from outside visitors. We could only catch a glimpse of the castle from the outside and could see the backdrop of Switzerland and the Swiss Alps behind, making for a marvelous sight. Because there was actually nothing to do except take a photo or two, we left and decided to take a random drive through the country and explore all the villages. We spent the day stopping here and there and enjoying the views but there wasn’t much to see (no museums or something outside of Vaduz.) We saw several other castles from the distance, one which was atop a big hill and looked quite impressive from a distance but the castle was closed as it is apparently closed on most days. In fact, as far as being a tourist is concerned, there wasn’t much signs or information for travelers to find out when and if the castle is actually ever open.
We enjoyed a nice lunch after exploring the inside of an old church before heading back to our lovely apartment in Austria. Originally, we had thought to rent bicycles for the day but we were glad we didn’t. Not only had they tried to charge us (inside the tourist office) $100 (per person!) for the day, but we also would have spent an awful lot of time cycling to places that weren’t even open.
All in all, Lichtenstein is a pretty country and worth a visit as it is one of the least visited countries in Europe and also the 6th smallest country in the world. It was nice to get the stamp in my passport and to learn a little bit about a country most American’s have never heard of, even if just for a day. I am thankful I had my car though because really I don’t think it’s easy to travel to Lichtenstein without one. Luckily, renting cars in Europe is fairly easy and although I had my own car, I’ve often left her in England and opted to rent a car during my quick trips to Germany to visit my in-laws.
One thing I do regret not being able to do is visit the Vaduz Polo Club! Unfortunately, traveling with my mom and brother meant I had to do non-horse related things, but it definitely gives me an excuse to come back! That is one thing I have noticed while traveling with others, (after 8 years of solo travel!) is that you don’t always get to do or see what you want to do and sometimes you have to compromise a lot more than expected. I knew that this short trip to Europe was more for my mom and brother to see a taster of the EU and I am happy that I got to show them countries they would probably otherwise have never visited if it hadn’t been for me and my little Pink Yak.