That summer that I spent studying in France , https://oldladywriting.com/2019/06/09/when-did-the-arc-de-triomphe-start-leaning/ I decided to visit every country in Europe.  The Eurail Pass made it seem like an actual possibility, if not a likelihood.  So how did I do it?  Well, I did not, because a couple of caveats were built into this very vague plan, including:

  • British Isles did not count, because the Eurail Pass did not include them
  • Soviet Bloc did not count, for obvious reasons (it was the ‘80s, friends)
  • Germany and Austria did not count, also for obvious reasons

What did count were the “dwarf states”[1].  I first read about them in my beloved childhood encyclopedia, “What Is This, Who Is That?”  My mom bought it the year I was born, so as of this writing, pretty much all the information in it that does not pertain to fish or ancient history is outdated.  Even the fact that Malta is not included in the article on microstates is pretty telling—it was still part of the United Kingdom.  Yes, I date back to Malta’s pre-independence days!  Plus, it was published in the USSR, so literally, all the post-Renaissance history articles are pretty skewed. 

Liechtenstein is the one with the stamps and teeth. There is a stamp museum there, which we did not visit. I am not sure about the teeth. Unless they are just signifying a welcoming smile?

The original article listed, as anyone who can read Russian can plainly see on the attached, but I will translate for the rest, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and San-Marino.  Currently in Wikipedia, we currently also have Malta and Vatican, but not Luxembourg.  What happened to Luxembourg?  I suppose since it is bigger by area and population than all the others combined, by all means let’s exclude it.  I *have* been there, and survived a traumatic experience of being [almost] attacked by a knife-wielding maniac at a cemetery—but that is another story for another time! (I might be saving it for my memoirs)  And as for Vatican, it goes without saying that the Soviet version would make no mention of it under any circumstances, because “religion is an opiate of the people” (Karl Marx said this, not I).

And so, during that summer, I already had Vatican under my belt, having lived as a refugee in and around Rome some years before then, and then proceeded to have that encounter in Luxembourg[2].  In the past decade, I travelled to Malta (which is literally the most perfect place in terms of weather, history, food, ease of getting around, and the fact that all the signs are in English even if no one actually speaks it), and Monaco (which is also cool in many ways but is the opposite of easy to get around.  I mean, when there are elevators to get you from one street to another—take them!  Do not, I repeat, do not brave the stairs!)  I still have not been to Andorra or San-Marino, and frankly, they are a bit off the radar for me.  Someday—but not today, as I say. 

So when I planned the vacation to Munich for Oktoberfest this year[3], I noted how close Liechtenstein is.  Driving there was one of my motivating factors for renting a car, because I already learned from that European summer that the train does not stop in Liechtenstein.  It literally does not have an international train station!

I could not find a tour book on Liechtenstein, so spouse and I decided to improvise.  We pretty much just drove into the country and looked for parking.  Everything is right there: a beautiful cathedral, an interesting history museum, and a town square with souvenir shops and cafes.  There is also a medieval castle within a short drive—it is apparently in a different town from the capital, Vaduz, which is basically one street over[4].  The views are breathtaking, since Liechtenstein is ¾ Alps.  The beer is not bad, though not as good as three countries over in Germany.

In short, I would highly recommend a visit to Liechtenstein, if you happen to be in the Alpine neighborhood, and like picturesque towns.  Do I feel like I visited a different country?  Well, not necessarily, but I do have another flag to prove that I did[5]!

[1] I apologize for the use of the term “dwarf” to anyone who might be offended by it.  This is, again, a direct translation from the Russian language, as again can be seen from the attached illustration.

[2] Faux-dwarf!

[3] I travel to Germany now.  My, how the world has changed!…

[4] I did not realize it was a different town until I looked it up just now.

[5] Fun fact—I collect flags from the countries I visit.  Soviet Union and Russia merit their own separate flags, as does the Republic of Texas.