What is so special about Liechtenstein? People have used this line to discourage me from going to this country. “There isn’t anything there,” I’ve been told and have read such in travel forums.
But I’m happy to report the opposite of what some have said. This is the most beautiful country, with fall colors on massive mountains that jut straight up to the sky on one side of the country, and awesome snow covered Alps on the other.
Today, I signed up for one more night in the hotel, as I wanted to discover more of the country; one night was not enough time. I took a bus to the Schaan station, which is the center of one major town.
I was mesmerized from what I saw; awesome huge mountains, old and new architecture and spotless one way streets that are driven on mostly by large new cars.
I wandered around and found an old stone church and steeple, with bells beckoning me near.
It’s heartwarming sometimes to experience what comes from traveling, especially when you are alone. The massive mountains that border the cities, the fall splendor and the snow capped Alps, and, that this is all part of a German country, put me in mind of my German father, Lawrence.
I felt an overpowering feeling of his presence in the massive and powerful mountains. He was strict, to say the least, and often used the belt as a whipping tool. I believe in the child rearing knowledge today, it might be called ‘child abuse.’
So much time has gone by, and my father became a mellow, funny and warm man later in life, that I had long ago excused his style of discipline, as a part of his cultural upbringing.
But it was today in the mountains and the familiar cold, crisp air, I grew up in, in Colorado, that I truly felt a feeling of forgiveness towards him.
Liechtenstein is a sandwich between Switzerland and Austria, with closer ties to Switzerland.
Liechtenstein has a castle. You can climb to the top of a hill and find His Serene Highness Hans-Adam II, prince of Liechtenstein’s dwelling, which is the castle.
It has a broad view of the Rhine Valley. It is said the prince is a casual guy, taking a morning jog and greeting folks.
Politically, Liechtenstein is an independent state that, to say it enjoys a high standard of living, is an understatement. I’d almost come close to calling it Rodeo Drive of Europe.
The City of Verduz is the capital city and is the center of commerce and international banking.
“Are you here to get some of the ‘black money?’” A man heading up a table of American’s during breakfast this morning asked me.
“I haven’t seen any black money yet.” I answered, but not really knowing what my answer should be.
He was the owner of a business and was treating his employees to a mini-vacation in Liechtenstein. Later they whooped it up in the same restaurant.
I learned that low taxes spurred an outstanding economic growth, but banking oversight resulted in concerns about the many banks being used for money laundering and tax evasion, as well.
However, I have learned that folks bringing money-loaded suitcases to hide in banks is over.
Prosperity is evident everywhere, with building’s going up and stores full of expensive goods.
Liechtenstein has never been involved in a battle or military confrontation, and see their flag as a banner of peace.
There is a very low rate of unemployment in the country of only 35,000 people.
In my walk around Schaan I came to a theater which is used both for stage plays and to show movies. There was a children’s play to be seen later in the day.
I also found a Christmas Market that was held inside a city-owned cultural building and was a fund raiser for Waldorf school.
The kiosks were full of crafts, the likes of which I have not seen before: wool toys, and wool fake fruit that looked real, paper lanterns, books and canned food, dried fruits, candy and more.
One kiosk made me stop and look further. They were floral arrangements made from a paper product called paper thread. Lidwien, the artist, showed me how the product comes from Great Britain in threads, that when pulled apart can be used to create flower petals or leaves. “It’s a lot of work.” she said and I can believe it, but they would make a great addition on a holiday table.
Tomorrow I’ll go to Ticino, after I have seen the City of Verduz.
By the way, the people are friendly, helpful and interested in my journey. It was an awesome day.