Goodbye Austria, Hello Switzerland

This morning (Thursday) before leaving the hotel I decided to go downstairs and have breakfast in the little bistro / bakery adjacent to our hotel.  The place is owned and operated by a lovely couple and the wife is the baker / chef. What struck me is how calm and peaceful the dining experience was. You see, in Europe dining is treated as a leisurely, relaxing, enjoyable experience. The servers do not rush their patrons, they do not interrupt, they do not bring the check until it is requested, and the food is served on real dishes with stainless forks and knives. Morning tea is served in a cup (not a mug) and saucer.  (Those who know me well know much I appreciate this!)  

This is not unique to this establishment. We have experienced this throughout our travels so far.  I will admit it takes a little getting used to.  We are so used to rushing through our meals and receiving the check before the last bite is finished. I actually have to “work” at relaxing and slowing down.  I have vowed to myself that when I get home, I will try to incorporate the practice of relaxing and enjoying mealtimes a little more often. Another benefit: I have found that eating slowly causes me to eat less ~ BONUS!

Moving on . . .

Waving “goodbye” to my beloved Austria, we headed west.  I discovered that we were in route to Switzerland. Yay! 

If you look at a map of Austria, you will see the tiny principality of Liechtenstein sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland.  I don’t think a stop in Liechtenstein was originally on the itinerary but we decided since we were so close we should pop in and say hello.

Principality of Liechtenstein

Do you know anything about Liechtenstein? I didn’t until today.

Liechtenstein, established in 1719, is known as a principality as it is a constitutional monarchy headed by a prince. Valduz is the capital and it is located along the Rhine river.  It is simply adorable. The whole principality is only 62 square miles and has a population of 35,000. It is the smallest yet richest German-speaking country in the world and the only country to lie entirely within The Alps. 

The reigning prince is Hans-Adam, II.  His castle is perched on a hill overlooking the city.  We drove around until Stan figured out how to get up there so we could do a drive-by since the castle is not open to the public.  I managed to snap a few photos of the back-side of the castle and the city view below.  I also took a few shots from the city looking up toward the castle. 
Back-side of the castle.

View of Valduz from the castle.

View Valduz from the castle.

Castle perched on a hill.

Closer view of the castle from the city street.

According to the Internet, “Prince Hans-Adam, II owns LGT banking group and has a family fortune of $7.6 billion and a personal fortune of approximately $4.0 billion, making him one of the world’s richest heads of state and Europe’s wealthiest monarch. He owns an extensive art collection which is displayed for the public at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna.”  Who knew? We could have stopped by to take a look while we were there!

It was a short detour but now we can say we have been to Liechtenstein!

Lucerne, Switzerland

We drove through The Swiss Alps into north-central Switzerland to Lucerne.  When we were checking in to the hotel, I met a family from Montana. It’s a small world! 

After getting settled in our rooms we were ready for dinner and a relaxing evening. Tomorrow we will explore more of Switzerland. Can’t wait!

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