My stay in Liechtenstein was brief, but long enough to class it as a lovely place. I crossed over the Rhine, and made it to the capital city of Vaduz. The whole country only has a population of about 37,000 with Vaduz having not even 6,000. It used to be part of Austria, but since World War 1 has had closer ties to Switzerland after Austria lost so much power. It uses the Swiss Franc, and shares the ridiculous prices of Switzerland. It has an absolutely sensational setting, with most of the country being the floor of the Rhine valley, and then gorgeous mountains to the south, east and west.
Vaduz has little more than a single street to it really. There’s an interesting-looking parliament building, and the prince’s castle which isn’t open to the public. Outside of that, and a fair amount of hiking options, your options for the centre of the city are all shopping based. There was the strange reality that most people I saw in Vaduz seemed to be Chinese tourists, in my couple of hours sat on a bench in the city centre, but none of them went into the restaurants or coffee shops which were all filled with Europeans.
My host for the night was Matt from Couchsurfing, whose family had been in the Liechtenstein area for many generations. After dinner, we went out for a wander in the nearby neighbourhood which involved a nice hike up a mountain to see the ruins of a castle and then met up with some of his friends for a bonfire. Considering how close people live to nature it’s apparently very common. My favourite thing about it was learning the wonderful local custom of using bird boxes as storage. If you are in Liechtenstein, and see any bird boxes at eye height, open it up and you’re very likely to find not only a bottle of local schnapps but also 4-6 glasses to serve yourself and your friends. One key thing – if you finish the bottle, you’re meant to replace it!