This past weekend, I was able to check one thing off my lifetime bucket list. I do not remember when I learned about Liechtenstein, but ever since I had always wanted to visit. There was something about a country that does not even have 40,000 citizens and is the fifth smallest country by area that fascinated me. I grew up in Lawrence County, Indiana. Lawrence County is about 70 miles south of Indianapolis and is about 450 square miles in size. Liechtenstein is only 61 square miles!
Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy. The country, however, is ruled by a Prince, not a king. The monarchy is a hereditary position. My understanding of their government is the prince is the political leader, the prime minister runs the government, and the parliament drafts the bills. The prince has veto power over parliament, but I am not sure if parliament has any capability to over ride a veto. Because the country is so small they also practice direct democracy. Any eligible voter can propose a referendum, but they need 1000 signatures to get on the ballot. 1000 may not seem like that many, but remember the population of the country is not even 40,000 people so it is a pretty big number in reality.
I have to say I was quite surprised by how modern the capital is. I was expecting it to be like many of the smaller Swiss cities we have visited. I thought there would be two distinct flavors to the city. One that was old and traditional and another that was new and modern. Vaduz seemed to be all modern. Outside of the Schloss, there did not appear to be any old buildings. Even the church looked to be new and in many ways it is new. The church was built in 1874. I say it is new because the castle was built approximately 7 centuries earlier. 🙂
Julie and I were a little surprised about the castle. The castle is used by the crown prince as his living quarters, but we were expecting at least part of the castle to be open to the public. I mean a building that was built that long ago has to be expensive to maintain. If they opened up a third of it to the public, and charged 20 CHF to visit I bet they could recoup all the maintenance costs from tourists. I read there are about 130 rooms in the castle, and you know the Prince is not using that many of them to live in. 🙂
There is a covered bridge across the Rhine that enters into the town from Switzerland. At one time there were 13 bridges similar to this one that crossed the two countries. However, there is only one left. This bridge was built around 1870. Once modern things like concrete and steel came into use the old bridges were left to fall apart. In the 1980’s this one was the last one standing, and the two countries realized they needed to preserve the history so the bridge was refurbished. Now it is used for horses, bikes, and pedestrians.
One final note about Liechtenstein. One thing we really did not realize is that once we were in Europe our US passports would never get stamped. In the two years I have been here, the only stamps added to my passport are leaving and entering Switzerland and the US. Julie had to get a new passport this year so we took the passports with us just to get a Liechtenstein stamp! There is no international airport (that I am aware of) so the only place you can get a passport stamp is the tourist office!
Our son got some really good news last week. He officially goes off the parental payroll next year. He accepted a clerkship with Judge Weissmann of the Indiana Appellate Court. I guess that means he will be staying in Indiana a while longer.
Now if we can just get IU Medical School off the dime and extend an invitation to Kaylee… We will only have to go to one city to visit the kids for the next few years. 🙂
and speaking of travel. The airlines are still not really put back together after the last 18 months. It seems like Swiss and United are stopping their Zürich to Chicago route. I am flying back home for some deer hunting in November and my flight was rerouted through Washington. The flight home for Christmas is now rerouted through New Jersey. Also when George and Gabby were here in August their flight home was rerouted away from Chicago. So that is three out of three. We are keeping our fingers crossed that coming back home will still go through Chicago as we are bringing the two kids and George’s girlfriend Gabby home with us after Christmas and we all meet up in Chicago. We really like the Chicago route so much better because there are constant flights from Chicago to Indianapolis. Not as many options from the other airports, and if we get delayed, we probably lose half a day waiting for the next flight.
I think that is about it for today. I hope you enjoy the pictures. Talk to you again soon.