Monday, July 30, 2007

Montag - Leichtenstein

I`m getting a lot of requests for more photos and I will do that as often as possible. Getting the photos off the camera and resizing them for blogger is a bit of a painful procedure on an unfamiliar computer.. in German...

Yesterday Jase and Gosta got their sexy biking gear on and went for a 52km ride which passed through three countries - Leichtenstein, Austria and Switzerland. Even with the padded pants I think Jases butt suffered on the new seat, even though the bike was measured and adjusted especially for him (these Leichtensteinians don`t do things by halves when it comes to the serious business of biking). Of course I would have loved to have joined them *snort*, but us girls elected instead to get our passport stamps the lazy way. We drove into Austria to Schloss Schattenburg (which I am informed is not technically a `schloss` because it lacks a fortified wall) for dinner and the customs guys obliged us in both directions by stamping our passports, even though they generally don`t bother if your vehicle has Leichtenstein license plates. As everyone knows, passport stamps are the one true way to prove you have been somewhere and it`s not guaranteed that you will get them in Europe if you have an innocent face. On my first trip to Italy I had a new passport and when I got back in NZ it was as virgin as when I left. When we entered Zurich not only was there no stamp but the guy on passport control didn`t even open our passports. He just `felt`them. Perhaps they only hire psychic sensitives in the Zurich passport booth.

We are learning about Leichtenstein. It`s most famous for postage stamps, dentures and for being a tax haven. Postage stamps because Leichtenstein decided to keep their postal system separate from Switzerland and therefore the stamps are treasured by collectors. There is a stamp museum. Dentures because it is Europes biggest exporter of them. Yesterday we went into the capital, Vaduz, which is more of a large village, and took a little tour around on a cute blue train full of Indians. The day before, they had just wrapped up a Bollywood movie in Vaduz. For all I know I could have been sitting next to the biggest star in India.... if their biggest star has a bad comb-over that is. Schloss Vaduz (of which I have photos that I will post as soon as I can) overlooks the town and this is where the Prince and his family lives. He seems rather accessible and the flag is currently flying to announce that he is at home, rather than at the main family seat in Austria. Prince Hans-Adam also goes walking on a fairly predictable schedule and, according to Lonely Planet, you might even see him down at the pub. I`ll let you know if we run into him.

Tomorrow we head to Pisa and then on to Roma. It`s a long drive but we pass through many interesting places and I`m sure the trip will go quickly. Of course, percieved speed depends entirely on whether there is complaining or sleeping going on in the baby seat (it could be a very long journey indeed if the girl decides it`s not a day for a long car ride!).

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