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Vaduz, Liechtenstein: Bank on it
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Banking has made Liechtenstein famous. This tiny country is one of the havens for the financial planners globally. Given its landscape and vineries, Vaduz, the country’s Capital, presents opportunities to tourists as well. If you are in Innsbruck and have a day to spare, do cross the border.
Liechtenstein enjoys the distinction of being the only country to be located entirely in the Alps. Well this has been possible due to its size. It’s just 160 sq.kms. The population is small too. Only about 36,000. Its national border is all of 76 kms. The country’s parliament has only 25 members and the Head of State is the reigning Prince. It follows constitutional hereditary monarchy on a democratic and parliamentary basis.
As part of our Central Europe tour, we were in Innsbruck and had kept a day to visit Vaduz. We had hired a car for this day trip. We left our hotel after breakfast at 8:30. Our first stop was the Swarovski Crystal World which was in Wattens a few kms away from our hotel in Innsbruck. After spending a couple of hours at Swarovski premises, we were on the road to Vaduz. The Capital city is about 200 kms from Innsbruck. Using the motorway it would take us about 3 hours to reach the destination.
We stopped for a short break, somewhere in between at Der Backer Ruetz, an excellent deli located at the foothills. A sandwich and a hot chocolate made sure we would be OK for most part of the day. Navigating through a couple of towns we finally reached Vaduz at about 2PM. We had about 3 hours to explore the town. We were allowed to pass through the border check post. I am making a special mention, because what happened to us on the return journey was quite embarrassing.
Driving through the main road of the small city, we saw a public parking lot. Good to know that the currency used in Liechtenstein is the Swiss Franc. The parking lot doesn’t accept Euro and so do many of the shops and restaurants. We didn’t have any Swiss Francs with us to pay the parking charges. Thankfully, one hour of parking was free. That set the schedule for us!
Almost in city centre, just across the parking lot was Stadtle Street. This indeed is one road that visitors should not give a miss. On one end of the street is the church and on the other are scores of restaurants and shops. In between is everything touristic… a music school, the Rheinberger House, the Parliament, the Philately Museum, Old Town House, the Information Centre and of course many banks!
Just so you know, Liechtenstein is very famous for its stamps. In fact, over 25% of the country’s revenue comes by sales of postage stamps! The Philately Museum will be of interest to the stamp enthusiast.
On the edge of Stadtle Street is Vaduz’s City-Train Station. For Euro 10, you can get a joy ride through the attractions of Vaduz. By the way, Vaduz is probably the only Capital city of the world that doesn’t have a railway station or an airport!
After walking for an hour on and around Stadtle, we took our car and drove through few streets and arrived at one of the many vineyards around town. We were at Court Winery which belongs to the Prince of Liechtenstein. We went around the winery and the vineyards and were ready to drive uphill to Vaduz Castle – an icon of Liechtenstein.
Since the royal family resides there, entry is not allowed in the castle. But that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the massive rolling hills overlooking Vaduz town and the valley beyond. The view is breathtaking. 30 minutes well spent. It was almost 5 PM and was time to begin our return journey.
This time round, we were stopped at the border. To our horror, we had left our passports in the safe of the hotel in Innsbruck, not realizing that we are visiting another country! Thankfully, the car papers were in order and were the only document to prove that we indeed had arrived from Austria. Thankfully, the border police took a kind view and allowed us to pass.
On our way back, we stopped for a break at Trofana Tyrol – an award winning chain of hotels and restaurants. We topped our car tank and filled ourselves with freshly baked pizza. That saw us through the evening.
We arrived at our hotel at about 8PM.
Vaduz Image Gallery Photo viewer
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