October 2022: In order to visit my last country in Europe, Lichtenstein, my wife, I and mother-in-law flew into Zurich, Switzerland, rented a car to make our way across the eastern Swiss Alps to cross into Lichtenstein. It was good to be back in Switzerland, a country that my family line from my dad’s side came from. Additionally, nothing prepares you for how beautiful and majestic the Alps are.

About Lichtenstein 

Lichtenstein competes with Luxembourg as the richest country in Europe per capita. It is a small sliver of land in the Alps surrounded by Switzerland and Austria. home to many castles. What I really liked about it is that it is extremely laid back, and the people actively hike and enjoy the beautiful outdoors they are blessed with. It is mountainous, forested and There are no airports and the only way to enter is by vehicle. The easiest route of entry is via a 2-hour drive from Zurich.

Map of Location of Lichtenstein

We flew into Zurich via Malta and immediately rented a car. Our rental car was supposed to be a BMW but instead we were given a SUV Renault, which the rental car agency claimed was the equivalent. I can’t say I agree but the car handled far better than any rental we experienced so far on the trip. The orderly driving and easy to drive roads were also a relief after driving in Malta and Italy. From Zurich we drove to Walensee lake via a scenic route off the highway. We stayed at the Seminar hotel on top of a ridge overlooking the lake that reminded me more of a college dormitory than a hotel.  Switzerland normally extremely expensive was made a lot cheaper by the strong US dollar.

Mountain scenery on the way to Lake Walensee

I woke up before the sunrise and had a big breakfast and went for a walk outside the hotel to watch the sunrise over the kale and the Alps. Autumn in the Alps is about as beautiful as it gets. 

Nearby Peak

Cottages overlooking Lake Wallensee

I was excited to get off to an early start and make the most of the sunny day we were blessed with. Plus waking up early always means that you have every place to yourself. We had a great time exploring the small alpine villages and Lake Wallansee was absolutely breathtaking with its clear waters and jagged mountain peaks surrounding it that resembled Glacier national park. 

Lake Wallensee

Unique houses in an alpine village

Lake Walensee

Paula and her mom at lake Walensee

If the Alps and turquoise lakes weren’t enough, there were also incredible stone castles.   

Castle

A river marked the border between Switzerland and Lichtenstein. A covered wooden bridge from the 1800’s crossed between both countries and is used by bicycle and foot traffic to cross. 

Old wooden bridge

Old wooden bridge

Paula in an old wooden bridge

A river marked the border between Switzerland and Lichtenstein. A covered wooden bridge from the 1800’s crossed between both countries and is used by bicycle and foot traffic to cross to the capitol of Lichtenstein, Vaduz, a small, relaxed town where everyone seemingly lives a perfect life driving a BMW or Mercedes and living in a picture postcard perfect house at the foot of the beautiful Alps.

Lichtenstein Castle

We did a hike the climbed a few thousand feet into the forest up to an old, abandoned castle ruin on a ridge. There are countless trails leading up into the mountain wilderness behind Vaduz. The trails were empty with the exception of a few locals enjoying the sunny Autumn Day. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful and intrigued that a group of Americans had found their little country. The castle was a great place to relax and have a view of Vaduz below. It would also be a great place to camp. There was a fire pit and free chopped firewood for anyone that wanted to start a fire.

Hike to the old castle

Vaduz

Alps

Vaduz

Paula embracing a tree

Paula at the castle

We spent the day in Lichtenstein exploring and we drove higher into the mountains and had lunch at a local eatery with a view. Although Lichtenstein is very expensive as we discovered when the bill arrived for lunch, we really liked the country. It was very calm, beautiful and the people very friendly. Everything is clean, virtually no litter, and there is no graffiti to be found anywhere. A low crime raate without a single murder in decades. 

In the afternoon we left Lichtenstein and drove back to Zurich stopping at the Lindt chocolate factory. We went out for dinner for my mother in law’s birthday and the next morning flew back home to San Diego.

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