Since I do actually have one friend who is a native Liechtensteiner (We met Martin and his wife Val at a really cool dinner party in Mendoza, Argentina), I asked what we should do here. At Martin’s recommendation we took a bus to Malbun, the nation’s only ski resort, and set off for a hike along the dramatic mountain ridge that separates Liechtenstein from Austria.
This takes me to my first cool fact about Liechtenstein. It’s not just a landlocked country. It’s double-landlocked — surrounded by two other landlocked countries. In fact as we hiked along that ridge between Liechtenstein and Austria, we were contemplating taking an extension up to a point where Liechtenstein, Austria, and Switzerland all meet. I wanted a photo for this very blog of me standing in all three countries.
But this was not to be, since just as we were approaching the highest point of our hike this morning, a wicked wind came blasting in with icy cold rain to boot. The sky on the Austrian side was ominously dark, and we decided to do the sensible thing and hike back to Malbun. By 2 pm we ended up back in the capital city of Vaduz, where we picked up a bottle of wine and headed back to our hotel. We ended up sitting on our lovely balcony enjoying the picnic lunch we’d packed for the hike with a nice bottle of Chianti Classico. Not a total disaster.
I may have mentioned previously that Switzerland was the most expensive country we’ve ever been to. Within days that record was been shattered here in Liechtenstein, where it’s pretty much impossible to get dinner for under $200 ANYWHWERE (and hence our strong penchant for picnicking). So it’s not surprising to learn that by some measures Liechtenstein has the highest per capita income of any country in the world. They also have rock bottom unemployment, hovering around 1.5%.
It’s also the only country on earth located entirely within the Alps. OK, I’ll quit now. This is a lovely place, but tomorrow we head to Zurich to get some welcome Swiss relief from these crazy prices.