Liechtenstein: The Strange and Beautiful

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When you read about Liechtenstein, you hear about its many quirks.  Like the fact that Liechtenstein is the world’s top producer of dentures and dental fillings.  And that you could fit six Liechtensteins into one Andorra.  And the prince is just a regular guy who does his own grocery shopping.

Yes, the principality is definitely strange.  But it’s also beautiful.

As I toured Liechtenstein, I got to see a lot of interesting parts of the country — both strange and beautiful.  And many of them are hardly known.

Here are my favorite highlights of Liechtenstein:

The Royal Family

On Liechtenstein Day — August 15 — the Royal Family invites the entire principality into its castle grounds to have a picnic and celebrate.  It’s such a nice tradition, and everyone gets excited for it.

The strange part?  The Royal Family is scandal-free.  Can you believe it?  Just about every royal family has had a regular spot in the tabloids.  Not the Liechtensteins.  They’re content to live quiet lives behind the scenes.

The Wedding Spot

My tour guide from Tourismus Liechtenstein, Lisi, a native Liechtensteiner (and only 2/3 of Liechtensteiners are natives!) showed me some of her favorite parts of the principality.

Like here: Liechtenstein’s brides’ favorite place for a wedding, a small chapel in Triesen.

Like many countries in Europe, Liechtenstein has an increasingly nonbelieving population.  You wouldn’t know it from the Roman Catholic art peeking out of everywhere and the churches that dot every village.

So why would Liechtenstein brides choose to get married at a church in the first place?  This view.

Wow.  There’s nothing more I can say but that — WOW.

Creepy Art

I love modern art, and I make a point to seek it out wherever I go.  But no museum has ever scared me as much as the Kunstmuseum in Liechtenstein.

There was an exhibit of TVs with scary clowns on them.  When I walked by them, they all burst into scary laughter.  Behind them were photographs of decapitated torsos.  Beyond that was a slowly moving mannequin.  All while a record played a hoarse, “I love you.  I love you,” on repeat in the background.

I ran out.

Wine Tasting with the Prince

One of my favorite stops in Liechtenstein was the Hofkellerei — the Prince’s personal vineyards.  You can walk into the wine cellar and taste a few vintages.  They’re particularly strong on Pinot Noirs — I actually got to sample three very different Pinots.

If you have a wino in your life, give the gift of oak-aged Liechtenstein Pinot.  Just make sure to drink it within three months, before it loses its oakiness.

Walking Into Switzerland

Thanks to the open borders of the Schengen area, it’s easy to stroll from Liechtenstein right into Austria or Switzerland.  I found a covered bridge near Vaduz and crossed the Rhein right into Switzerland.

For the photos alone, make sure you check out the covered bridges.

And, to conclude, FOOD.

As always, I wanted to try the most local dish possible.  Upon our arrival at Lowen Schellenberg, my guide, Lisi, suggested I try Liechtenstein’s national dish, käsknöpfle — little cheese dumplings served with fried onions and topped with applesauce.

Yes.  You eat those three foods together — and they make an absolutely delicious dish.

Over dinner, Lisi told me about more of Liechtenstein quirks.  With nine gold medals in downhill skiing, Liechtenstein has the most Winter Olympics medals per capita.  Of all the schools, there is only one gymnasium.  The country has 36,000 people and 6,000 cows.

The Verdict on Liechtenstein

I was bowled over by the charm and beauty of Liechtenstein, and amused at its eccentricities.  It’s definitely worth coming here for more than just a day trip — and FAR more than just the passport stamp!

My visit to Liechtenstein was sponsored by Tourismus Liechtenstein.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

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