Many years ago, my parents hitchhiked around Europe with me and my sister, then almost 3 and less than 1. They hadn’t planned on hitchhiking – they bought a car in Amsterdam and planned to drive to visit my grandparents during my grandfather’s sabbatical in Nice. But the car broke down soon after they bought it, and being the early 70s, hitchhiking was the next best thing. At the time, my sister and I shared a passport and my father made a point of getting it stamped in Liechtenstein and Luxembourg – two tiny countries for two tiny girls. Three years ago, when we were camping nearby in Germany, we made a trip to Liechtenstein, paid two Euros at the tourist office, and continued the tradition by getting Sprocket’s passport stamped. We figured since we were close by, it was now time to do Sprockette’s. So we did.
Since we’d already explored the metropolis of Vaduz (it’s tiny) on our last trip, we hit the tourist office, got Sprockette’s passport stamped, and asked them where the playgrounds were. Stopped by the public toilets and got a quick picture of the kids in front of the same model of the castle we’d gotten a picture of Sprocket at three years ago:
Had to be quick, because a bus load of Indian tourists kept jumping in front of us for the same picture. Then Sprocket wanted to get a picture of us:
Then, while I availed myself of the facilities, I saw a bus load of East Asian tourists and thought to myself – oh, if we were there the kids would be being mobbed for pictures. Then, I really had to laugh when I came out and a woman from China was busy getting pictures of the kids and her with them. I did put her to use in getting a picture of all four of us, though Sprockette was more interested in being sure to hold onto the umbrella :
Then we went to the playground and ate lunch, continuing the tradition of playgrounds in small countries as in Monaco during our trip two years ago. Rather, we grabbed bites of it between the slide and the swings. Sprockette and her sliding – girl is crazy for it:
We were the only people in the playground, despite it being Saturday afteroon. Two thirds of the people who work in Liechtenstein don’t live there – they depend on migrant labour – though having Swiss and Austrians as migrant labour does point to a certain level of prosperity. A view of the playground, with the castle looming above.
Walking back to the car – here are public buildings in Liechtenstein (church is placed under the castle, as is everything else):
And DutchBoy with the kids:
And Sprocket wanted to go in the church, but it was closed, so I got him to try and look like a gargoyle.
Then we were off. But which way to go? We’d thought we’d go through Switzerland to Italy and then to Slovenia, but using the GPS, we saw that the traffic jams going out of Switzerland were more than an hour and a half, and we’d rather not do that. See, the delays getting the car fixed had put us in Switzerland smack dab on one of the summer’s Black Saturdays, when everyone in Western Europe heads out on vacation. And Switzerland, with its passes and tunnels, tends to get clogged up. Coming in to the country we’d already seen the signs warning of delays, but hoped we’d wait them out. No such luck and there were no ways around it. We decided to head through Austria and a tiny bit of Germany instead. This is why we don’t make reservations.
Austria’s always lovely, and has random castles on hilltops:
But where would we sleep tonight?