Our last night in Austria was spent wild-camping in Fussbach, just outside Bregenz. We’d driven through rain from Ravensburg and, on arriving on the banks of Bodensee (Lake Constance), it became evident that Bregenz and it’s lakeside environs were popular tourist haunts so we couldn’t find a sleepy spot anywhere near The Lake! We stocked-up on beer etc at Lidl then drove out of the town until we found a tiny bit of spare ground and parked-up for the night. We slept like logs until we were woken up by early morning rain pounding on Sebo’s roof! Up we got and hit the road for Liechtenstein. Not many photos taken enroute, due to continuing rain but, safe to say, it was an interesting enough drive and yes, Liechtenstein has a certain “fairytale” quality to it – the fourth smallest country in Europe, after San Marino, Vatican City and Monaco, it’s doubly-landlocked by Austria and Switzerland ,with a total area of only 160 km2 (61.776 sq mi), all of which lies in The Alps. It has no airport, no language of it’s own (they speak German) , no currency of it’s own (they use Swiss Francs) and the lowest unemployment and crime rates in Europe! Rumour has it that residents don’t bother to lock their doors here!
As we parked-up on the huge car park at their National Stadium – Rheinpark Stadion (cheap parking during the day, Mon-Frid, free overnight and at weekends!), the rain finally stopped and we managed to have a wander around Vaduz – the capital “city” (not much bigger than a village, to be honest) and nothing of much interest to us, apart from the “princely family home”, Vaduz Castle, perched precariously on the hillside above the town but closed to visitors (on account of it being said “princely family home”).
One thing we DID notice on our short meander – how hellishly expensive everything was! Further research revealed that wages here are around three times those in UK so that kinda explains it! Anyhow, here’s a few other facts regarding Liechtenstein which amused us ….
- The Liechtenstein National Police is responsible for keeping order within the country. It consists of 87 field officers and 38 civilian staff, totalling 125 employees. All officers are equipped with small arms. The country has one of the world’s lowest crime rates. Liechtenstein’s prison holds few, if any, inmates, and those with sentences over two years are transferred to Austrian jurisdiction. The Liechtenstein National Police maintains a trilateral treaty with Austria and Switzerland that enables close cross-border cooperation among the police forces of the three countries. What amused us was the fact that all police leave is cancelled when The National Football Team has a home game!
- Liechtenstein has no army and take a neutral stance when it comes to “international relations”.During the 1980s the Swiss army fired off shells during an exercise and mistakenly burned a patch of forest inside Liechtenstein. The incident was said to have been resolved “over a case of white wine”
- In March 2007, a 170-person Swiss infantry unit got lost during a rainstorm whilst on a training exercise and inadvertently crossed 1.5 km (0.9 miles) into Liechtenstein. The accidental invasion ended when the unit realised their mistake and crept back onto their own turf. The Swiss army later ‘fessed-up to Liechtenstein of the incursion and offered official apologies.
- Liechtenstein, apart from being famous for it’s finance services and as a tax haven, is also, apparently, the producer of 20% of The World’s false teeth (bet yee didn’t know THAT fact?) It’s a pretty wee country from the point of view of being mountainous and all that but it’s architecture, apart from a couple of fairytalesque castles, is really nothing to write home about. Vaduz itself is a mish-mash of uber-modern art gallery/museum type buildings and low-rise apartment blocks and shops, with only the government buildings and the cathedral being in any way “historical”. We stayed overnight on the stadium carpark, slept soundly and then used their free service point to top up with water before leaving. Our total spend in Liechtenstein was a mere 4.75 Swiss Francs – and it would have been less but for the fact that the darn ATM gave me a 100 Franc note and the car park machine wouldn’t take it so I had to buy a pack of tissues to get change! Next stop……Switzerland!