December 3, 2013
During our recent visit to Europe we visited a small country between Austria and Switzerland named Liechtenstein - a country of 160 square kilometre area and about 36,000 people living there. This small, green and beautiful country surrounded by snow clad Alphes on one side and gracefully flowing river Rhine on other side is one of the best tourist attractions. Though the country is small it is one of the richest with a high GDP rate and people say their heart is big and they welcome tourists with real big heart.
Everything here is impressive - the most beaufiful landscapes, vibrant culture, friendly locals, various entertainment centres and museums, charming villages, neat vineyards, attractive houses, historical forts and castles and unforgettable joyride trains along with comfortable and present climate - all these make a visit to this country a memorable one.
This small country consists of 11 muncipalities and one Princepality that is Government. Each one has it’s own speciality. The capital city is Vaduz always bustling with tourists. This country has been always a peace loving, non-violent one without any effect of wars. It was ruled by Royal families and has a history of more than seven centuries. A graceful Royal Castle seen from all corners of Vaduz is the symbol of dignity of the Royal ruler who stays there. The castle has a variety of princely Royal collections from various places of Europe and the world preserved carefully. The Government of Liechtstein is controlled by royal rule in a democratic way which is liked and appreciated by the citizens, with their participation. On 15th of August 2004 reigning Prince Hans-Adam II transferred his sovereign rights to his eldest son Prince Alois and appointed him as his representative. We were really surprised to know that August 15th is the national day of Liechtstein and celebrated with enthusiasm like we in India celebrate Independence Day on the same date. What a coincidence! Largest democracy in the world, India and a very small free country in Europe celebrating their joy of freedom on the same day!
Why this tiny country is so popular with tourists is to been seen and experienced. There are many museums, theatres, art galleries, many heritage buildings like the one called “Red House”, considered to be the oldest house in the world and maintained very neatly. Every season of the year there is some feastival, carnival, fair or some exihibitions going on. Residential areas are so attractive with beautifully maintained gardens with blossoming flowers.
For adventure lovers there are plenty of opportunities for skiing, trekking, river rafting, hiking and para gliding etc. Football is very popular here and the team from this country is doing very well in European tournaments.
Another important and interesting feature of this country which we noticed is the simplicity and concern by which the Royal Family and people of Liechtstein mingle. Many a time the Royal Prince comes out to the street and mixes with the citizens and exchanges and discusses matters/problems openly. No security or formalities. There are 25 parlimentarians elected to the Government for four years in a democratic method. All of them are from different sections of the community and common men.
Local transport is very well managed by bus, train and it is free. Secondary Education is free and there is an assured social security for the people.
A very interesting incident happened during our visit. While we were travelling on a city sight seeing tour by a joyride train, we found the train driver was very jolly and cordial, showing the city/country with pride. When I asked him what his profession was he said simply 'showing you my country' and that he was the driver/owner of the train! Later on he casually told me that he is also an elected parliamentarian and part of the Government. Further he would call my wife ‘Bhabhi’ and greet us with the Indian style ‘Namaste!’ with folded hands! My wife and I requested him to give us a pose for a photograph, which he obliged with cheer.
We were most delighted by this gentleman Daniel Real and wonder even to day that we can see such surprises and wonders in the world! During our tour we saw a few wonders of the worlds like Eifel Tower, Leaning Tower and Colossium in Rome but the real wonder in Europe as well as the world according to us is Mr Real of Vaduz, from Liechtstein indeed!
We could see Independence in India for over 60 years but we are more impressed by seeing a small country like Leichtstein which celebrates Independence on the same day, 15th August, with so much progress and concern for their own country and people as well as for those who visit them.
This country will be definitely remembered by us as the 'smallest country with the biggest heart in the world' for many reasons.
How to reach: Vaduz is located between Austria and Switzerland and conneted very well by Expressways, trains and air.
Weather is very comfortable through out the year. But springtime is best.
Stay: Good economy hotels in Liechtstein and nearby Austria.
Currency: Swiss Francs and Euro
We travelled through Thomas Cook India and enjoyed this tour to the fullest.
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