An article about Lichtenstein in this week's Spectator reminded me of my trip there and how much I hated the place. As much as Dubai. Fishing around for my diary of the trip which I posted back in 2010 I found it had been archived, so here it is.
The mad old woman who keeps the hotel told me it was 500 metres to Liechtenstein and was astonished I proposed to walk it.
I wish I enjoyed the magnificent mountains. Instead I counted and recounted the numbers of countries and capitals I had visited. Lichtenstein according to Wikipedia is one of 4 doubly landlocked countries. Unlike Einstein signing the patent for toblerone which is a poem enlarging the universe this fact is deeply un life enhancing and train spotterish. But I try without success to think of another. Slovakia! Yes. Belarus no. Rwanda? Burundi?
The road asphalted suburban. 2 miles? Then the border. Empty police station with photograph of the prince. Mountains as beautiful here as anywhere else. I am doing this for my 10 year old self fascinated by miniature countries. A village called Mauren.
A woman drives me to the bus stop and then I take the bus and change at another village. The village is called Mauren. All the buildings are no older than late 70s. Like Japan. Prosperous people eat on balconies and the place is calmly disgusting. An inscription names many distinguished persons who were born there including an auditor general in the department of military justice in the 1860s. Such is the nature of fame for which men give their lives.
I reach Vaduz in the intense heat. Vaduz is entirely modern. Well spoken British tourists buy souvenir visas and I do too. This is another world from mine. Chinese or Japanese. The toy train which inevitably twines through the place. Paul Gallico. Frank Muir. A fat porcine faced man running in an ill fitting suit. Banks. A five star hotel which turns out to be a law firm. The castle hanging over the placed. How lucky the Liechtenstein family were. Others submerged by Communism or the lucky ones bled by progressive taxation in Austria.
Hell I suspect resembles Liechtenstein. Underground garages, large new houses, ugly Victorian churches, crucifixion statues, money laundering for distant dictators.
Christianne who says she was 50 the day we met is nice, young in spirit and looks around 38 or 40. Just divorced. She knows the Prince of course and after forty years has become one of his subjects. Her father was the first German officer killed in the Second World War. I am not sure how sympathetic to be.