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On visiting FL - Off in the distance
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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2009-03-09 11:41
Subject: On visiting FL
Security: Public
There are currently two doubly-landlocked countries in the world.

Uzbekistan at least has an airport.

Liechtenstein, on the other hand, is apparently even missing a railway station. (It does have some, on the nearly 10km of railway that cuts across between Switzerland and Austria, but the service is apparently spotty, and we saw no evidence of it in central Vaduz.) If you wish to visit, the easiest way is probably to take the train from Zurich towards Chur, getting out at Sargans. From there, a local train runs north up the valley towards Buchs, stopping at various stations including Sevelen (no, not Servalan). If you alight here, you can take a luminous green bus, or if you're like us, you can set out across the valley floor towards the Rhine. It's a nice enough amble: being a glacial valley, the bottom is an almost totally flat floodplain. There's a somewhat mendacious sign as you leave the outskirts of the village of Sevelen which says "Vaduz, Liechtenstein" on it, but that isn't the actual border. In fact, the border itself is another 20 minutes walk along the road, past the motorway that thunders down the left shore of the Rhine on its way to St Gallen. A car turning east at the motorway junction will shortly reach a newish concrete bridge over the river, with a pair of flags on it to mark the international border. A walker, however, can turn downstream a couple of hundred meters and cross the Rhine using a covered wooden bridge, inside which it is sufficiently dark that one can easily miss the pair of signs just under the ceiling indicating the actual border.

Once across the river, one can carry on to the east, eventually reaching a roundabout. At that point, turning left takes the walker into the centre of Vaduz, even to the point from which surveyors have measured the country.

Vaduz is prosperous, obviously so: the buildings are either fine old ones, or modern ones for which they've hired an expensive architect. There's a new art gallery, into which we dropped because we could see people eating and it was lunchtime.

I mentioned the fact the country is landlocked?

The museum café turned out to be a Japanese one, with with sushi and sashimi dominating the menu. We had a platter of what is probably the best sashimi I've ever had.

Walking round Vaduz, one thing is ever present: the castle. It hangs over your head the entire time, perched on the cliff edge above you. It's visible from a long distance: we'd been able to see it before we'd even got off the train (one reason for walking - it didn't seem too far away when we started). And it is, of course, picturesque: pretty nearly every postcard features it, as do the fridge magnets (of various levels of tackiness - we collect the tackiest we can).

In general, though, the place is a small misplaced Swiss canton. It's one side of an alpine valley, the other side being in the canton of St Gallen. They use the Swiss franc as currency (though they will advertise prices in € too - the waitress seemed unsurprised at us doing currency conversions and deciding to pay in the Euros we had with us). (Like some of the more isolated Swiss cantons, women gained the franchise late: it was 1979 before the women of Vaduz got to vote, and 1984 before those of the whole nation got it, though it took only till '86 before the first woman was elected.) The architecture is reassuringly expensive (and some of the modern stuff really quite good, too), and there's an awful lot of public sculpture in Vaduz.

In general, then, a pleasant enough place for an excursion. On a sunny day at the beginning of March, the number of tourists is almost nil (though we did take a picture for a pair of Japanese), and it's actually relatively easy to get to if you're in Switzerland.
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kit
User: mizkit
Date: 2009-03-09 12:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
we collect the tackiest we can

Even if I didn't already like you, this would make me like you. :)
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2009-03-09 12:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*blush*

The very tackiest we have, in the form of a transparent plastic edelweiss with a picture in its centre, we picked up in the extremely select Swiss resort of Leukerbad. That's a combination hot spring/ski resort where the beautiful people hang out, and the hotel bills reflect it.
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kit
User: mizkit
Date: 2009-03-09 12:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As do the prices of the tacky souvenirs?
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2009-03-09 12:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Goodness no - they're priceless.

Actually, I can't remember. I suspect not, though given that we buy one or two of them in a holiday trip, the price could double and we'd probably not notice.

(Price Inelasticity of the Tacky Fridge Magnet: An Analysis. I See A Great Need.)
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