Ever thought of going there for hiking and other outdoors activities?
Or do I need to ask if you’ve ever even heard or thought of Liechtenstein for anything? ;)
After my early arrival and the discovery of all the connections that Austria would actually have with this littlest of its neighboring countries, the planned fun started.
[warning]Liechtenstein Tourism had, after all, invited me to participate in their Outdoor Blogger Weekend, a Friday-noon-to-Sunday-noon exploration of all that the country had to offer for people interested in outdoors activities.[/warning]
It would turn out a weekend that felt like a week’s worth of experiences.
Mountain Bike Touring, the E-asy Way
We started out nice and easy (and quite uncharacteristically for me) with an e-Mountainbike tour.
Not my first time on a motorized bicycle, but the first time on one that is a mountainbike. And with 29″ rims.
Compared to my old bike, this one was a war steed, not a pony.
The tour went through the village, and up the mountain, of Triesenberg…
..and Liechtenstein started to present its beautiful views to us.
Still a bit sore from last weekend’s trail race, the cross-training that the e-Mountainbike presented was considerably more fun than I’d have expected.
Downhills were still enough of a rush, uphills not nearly as much of a challenge as they would have been without the help of the motor, and I finally started feeling less sore again.
Of course, for easing into things – and for the recovery that outdoors pursuits just need – we also made a stop. On this tour, in the Sücka-Alm…
Vaduz Downtown and the Amarone
The tour ended, we soon – and leisurely – continued on the theme of recovery. And adventure:
First, just on the public bus into the city center of Liechtenstein’s capital, Vaduz.
If you ever want to visit a country whose capital makes you feel like you know all its downtown within 10 minutes, go here.
Liechtenstein’s national bank, the government buildings, National Museum, Hilti Art Foundation and Vaduz Castle above it all, hardly any people… and you’ve basically seen it all.
Still, it is nice.
Dinner was right here, too, treated to a meal in the restaurant Amarone, which combines Italian food with local ingredients and inspiration and quite the flair.
Prices are quite Swiss, i.e. high, but the quality was equally as high. (The Malbun er pizza is particularly recommended, if you like things rich and meaty.)
If you are tight on money, Liechtenstein probably would not be for you, same as Switzerland, but if you want to treat yourself to something (and maybe save money by doing outdoors activities which can, at least partly, be done on the cheap)…
In the Ropes, an Adventuring Way
It had rained while we were eating, but that ended up not interfering with the last plan for the day.
Well, we would not end up in full moon light but only a bit of natural light and the shine of our headlamps, but we could go on the ropes course in Triesen.
Yes, at night.
Instructions were still given with a bit of daylight left, but then we went into the forest, to the ropes course proper, and it was all just barely visible here and there.
Better or worse when you can’t see just how far down the ground is?
You’d have to decide that for yourself.
For taking pictures to show any of it, it was not good, of course.
For the fun of it, it most certainly was, with the challenge of the course, and the fun of the zip lines at the end.
Tour 2: Hiking the Fürstin-Gina-Weg
Day 2 found us, out quite early and off to Liechtenstein’s family skiing and hiking village of Malbun.
By public bus, using the Liechtenstein Experience Pass (Erlebnispass) again.
In Malbun, we eased into things, taking the chair lift up to Sareis… (trip again included in the Experience Pass) and having breakfast in the hut.
With calories in need of burning, we set out on the Fürstin-Gina-Weg… (my track of which can be found here on Suunto Movescount.)
Up to the peak of the Augstenberg at 2359 meters – but only some 500 meters higher than where we had started at the Sareiser Joch. Amazing views all around!
Mid-point of that hike/trail: The Pfälzer Hütte.
Another stop, another foodie-ism. So close to Switzerland, I felt a need to sample a Rösti ;)
Again, it would not be cheap (Swiss Francs 17.50 in the case of that meal), but it was quite a good portion and very tasty again.
On we went, back down towards Malbun, more beautiful views around.
Without us quite noticing, the day had turned much nicer and sunnier than the clouds moving past and some cool drafts had made it appear. Like that proverbial frog in ever-hotter water, we barely noticed but got quite sunburned.
2000 meters above sea level should not be underestimated; the sun is strong here…
Wings in Malbun’s Galina Falconry
We had seen marmots, we had seen eagles circling in the updraft… But when does one ever get a close-up look at an eagle?
At hotel, restaurant, and falconry Galina, we did.
The falconer came back from the Eagle Hike he offers, where participants can see the bird of prey up close, watch it fly, and learn more about it.
We got up close, too…
…with the falconer telling us a lot on how brutal nature is and how not-fun having to fly is for a bird like that.
Only we in our civilized and easy conditions would equate flying with freedom.
Hold that thought.
Talking of civilized: We had dinner there at Galina.
Fun thing: They offer a relatively small selection of dishes, some of them traditional and to-be-expected, quite a few Asian-inspired.
Thai Chilli Chicken was my need-to-try, and it was a bit Europeanized in its sweetness, but quite tasty. And it’s not what they offer because of all the Asian tourists (of which there are some, but not all that many) but for the locals and visitors who want something lighter and probably healthier than schnitzel and the like.
Interesting how that goes (especially while others discussed how unpopular e.g. Chinese tourists might be when they want noodle soup for breakfast and thus add very different smells to the usual breakfast of locals).
Not a surprise, by now, but meals were again pricy. Presented very nicely though, even when it is a meal of fried noodles, which is a particularly challenging dish, I would think, for a restaurant with class.
(Sorry, my food blogger-side is breaking through.)
Back, again, by public bus.
One of the most interesting public bus connections I’ve yet experienced: That day, that time, there is a bus line that runs as long as somebody calls to say that it is needed.
Nobody calls, there is a later regular bus only…
Tour 3: The Fürstensteig
From a Weg, a path, to a Steig, something even more of a trail (with fixed ropes for security).
The Fürstensteig was only built a (relatively) short time ago, almost hewn into the flank of the mountain.
So, this trail asks for secure footing and no fear of the heights one gets to – and that is also its beauty: It winds its way up along the side of the mountain very nicely.
This makes for great views of the hike, and the views from the trail are at least as good, ranging across pretty much the whole of the Rhine Valley here (and therefore, just about half of the country of Liechtenstein).
Reaching the Gafleisattel, the views open up into the valley on the other, Eastern, side of the mountain and to the trail that would lead to the Three Sisters.
We, however, continued on the same mountain, down and up the hiking trail there, crossing another saddle (which offered the perfect look back on the hiking trail we’d just come).
From there, it was basically all down through Alpine meadows.
This tour did not quite end where we had started out, though. Rather, it went to Gaflei, where the final highlight awaited.
Paragliding in Liechtenstein
Taking to the air may not be as much (or any) fun for a bird of prey, unlike in our imagining (as the falconer loved to make *very* clear to everyone), but it is a dream for humanity.
Long-haul flights to different countries have become quite ordinary (and my wife and I have another one of those, for another family visit in China, coming up very soon again).
Last year, I took the chance to take a helicopter in the mountains.
This time, thanks to Liechtenstein Marketing, I could add paragliding to my list of experiences.
What a different experience!
The running at the start, to get to the right speed for takeoff, was the roughest part, what with the pilot right behind, the meadow pretty uneven…
Once in the air, though, it was such a mixture of exhilaration, insecurity, and pure enjoyment, it was fascinating to notice.
Although, I think I mainly only noticed afterwards just what a mixture of such emotions it had been.
In the middle of it all, I was just too busy hanging on, thinking that there’d definitely be no need to hang on, enjoying the views, worrying about every bounce, taking videos and photos.
All at once.
And I had the perfect pilot who could tell what it took:
When he asked me if we should intercept one of our colleagues, I wasn’t exactly up for it… But he pretty much insisted on showing me what a paraglider could do, going into some steep curves with me.
Not necessarily what I need.
Perfect of him to have done.
Frankly… If somebody wants to sponsor a paragliding course for me in exchange for a documentation of the whole experience with them, I’d be up for that.
People, of course, react very differently. If you get a chance to try and see for yourself, I’d recommend jumping at it.
But then, “Don’t fear. Get it done.” has not been my motto for this year without reason.
Now for what’s coming in gear in early 2018, to make such pursuits better – or to make more of them possible – at the OutDoor Friedrichshafen, and then we’re off to China again for three weeks.