Birthday Celebrations In Liechtenstein
To escape the pressures of my 30th birthday, I decided to spend it away, ALONE. A month before February, I made all the necessary arrangements for the tour, and booked my two way plane tickets to Zurich; it was a well planned 5 day tour to visit the smallest but richest country in the world, Liechtenstein. Personally, I view travel as the answer whenever I feel the usual routine I have been doing for years is killing me, I have to break the monotony of being an advertising executive before it kills me. Being single has its advantage such as I can go out the country and go anywhere, anytime I want. There was so much I wanted to know about the place as I was totally clueless what to expect from a small country but I was amazed by its richness, vulnerability and warmth of its people.
After a 25 hour flight from Syracuse Airport, the Aeroflot plane landed on Zurich International Airport in Switzerland. From the plane I was already amused by the scene of endless clouds and snow capped Alps, very refreshing sight! From the airport I hailed a cab to take me to the Busch Train Station and boarded a twenty minute train to the Schaan-Vaduz Station, the capital of Liechtenstein. From here I passed by the Liechtenstein Center, lots of restaurants and souvenir shops, but everything was expensive! It was well put together and succeeded in making a cool impression of a small country. The centre was nice and neat except for the strange monuments. I bought my “Adventure Pass” which gave free entrance to the museums, parks and free rides at the Liechtenstein bus. The staff at the info desk was helpful and gave helpful guide maps to navigate the city but sold me overpriced passport stamps!
I started my tour with a visit to the Liechtenstein National Museum; it featured a small but high quality art collection from the 1300’s to the 1800’s. Part of the museum serves as a venue for temporary exhibitions. There was an exhibit of excellent Faberge Items when I was there. The building is bordered by the New Parliament on one side and the Information Centre on the other side. The museum has 42 display rooms covering archaeology, natural history, protecting Modern Ages, ruling Modern Era, ethnic studies, royal family and economy. It was the best way to understand the country’s history and place in the world before it became a financial Mecca. The hand-held audio tour guides were available in multiple languages. I stopped for some coffee at the small cafeteria and bought souvenirs at the little shop. A lift took us upstairs were there was a beautiful drawing exhibition of a renovated castle in South Liechtenstein.
Next to the museum is the Hofkellerei (Wine Cellars) of the Prince of Liechtenstein. It’s nicely set up and offers their own wine and a variety of other world wines. The Prince’s own winery comes from the grapes of his own 4 hectares vineyard all around Liechtenstein and other neighbor countries like Austria. The winemaker proudly toured us around and gave wine sampling of chardonnay; schnapps, rose and pinot noir…all were quite good! I was given a complimentary small wine glass as a souvenir. Then I checked out the next attraction in Vaduz which is the Vaduz Castle. It was an impressive castle but can only be viewed thru its exteriors. It is close to the public but, it was still worth a visit. I had a great view of the village below, as well as being thoroughly impressed by the castle’s facade. A nice castle to see on a day out in Liechtenstein, the way up is littered with information boards about the royal family and the city.
The next attractions I visited were the Parish Church of Vaduz which was right next to the Governments Building, just right in front of the round-about at the Aulestrasse. It is one of the biggest churches in the city. Outside the church I saw modern Christian statues and colorful flowers which lead up to the main entrance. In the center of Vaduz is the Museum of Fine Arts or Kunstmuseum, as it is more popularly called. It is a big, square, monolithic building made of black marble and a lot of glass. Inside the museum I found a big part of the Princely art-collection. The most important part of the museum was the Liechtenstein Art Collection; the Prince is a formidable art lover and has a huge collection of artworks. The museum also has a café and a small bookshop. Great, friendly and helpful staff gave good service.
In my opinion the most beautiful part of Vaduz was Mitteldorf. It is found at the street of Hintergasse. I explored its cobblestone streets and alleys, vineyards, monumental buildings, and low walls made of granite stones. It’s a peaceful part of the city and there were hardly any cars that come by, it gives more of a countryside feeling while being there. Combined with the beautiful blossoming flowers that were everywhere makes it a brilliant village on its own. I had photos at the vineyards too; it was so much fun walking beside rows and rows of grapes ready for harvest! Then I proceed to the Red House, the famous attraction in Mitteldorf. It is a building with red walls and a very characteristic stairs-façade at the west side of the house. At the top is the tower called the “Torkel”, built of rough granite rocks and topped with a wooden tower room and octagonal roof. Behind this attraction are vineyards of white grapes and the view of the spectacular Alps.
I spent my birthday with a visit to Trisenberg. I took a bus at Valduz to get to Malbun, the main ski holiday resort of Liechtenstein. First, I prayed at the beautiful Peace Chapel and had a good view of the village and other mountains around it. At 3 pm, a falconry show was held at the Galina Falcon Center. The 75 minute show was worth the fee I paid for the “Adventure Pass”. It was great to see amazing birds up close; the whole talk was in German but can easily be comprehended. I took advantage of the Goshawk Walk, I had a great time feeding the hawk with pieces of meat in my gloved hand, it was astonishing as the hawk swooped down and landed firmly on my fist! I learned a great deal about these magnificent creatures, their habits, and training different types of birds and falconry in general.
Then I head out for a ride at the Sareis Chairlift in Malbun. I joined 3 other tourists to take the four seater cable lift ride to get up to the mountain top trails of the Augstenberg. I had a bird’s eye view of Austria and Switzerland Alps on both sides. It was so serene and breathtaking! I had a snack at the café on top and admire the view for 15 minutes before heading to the Ski Region Malbun, I rented ski equipments and snowboard pistes and ski all the way to enjoy the beautiful Alps. The resort maintains the slopes and offered quite a variety of difficulty and challenging skiing terrains. I find it ideal for kids and families due to its wide range of winter activities and relaxing recreation. Skiing got more pleasurable at the Malbi-park. It’s a small but cute resort with 3 main cable lifts. I got to ski around hotels and restaurants on this side and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Slopes were easy and ideal for kids and those learning to ski. A handful of polite qualified instructors were always ready to guide first time skiers like me.
I still rave about the country for its great nature, peace and security (zero crime rates!). Spending my birthday with a tour of this rich small nation was something I will always cherish for the rest of my life.