The beautiful, tasty flora and fauna of Liechtenstein
We’ve had a fantastic day hiking through the forests and fields of Liechtenstein today, checking out the local flora. We got to explore the alpine villages of Rotenboden, Steinort and Triesenberg; and had our own little Liechtensteiniene safari. We saw squirrels, falcons, pheasants and deer in the forest – it was so cool! We also ate some very tasty Liechtensteiniene fauna (more on that later).
We basically saw all that Vaduz had to offer yesterday (i.e. not much), and have decided to spend the next couple of days here exploring the mountains and cute little farming villages around here. The closest mountain village to Vaduz is Triesenberg. It’s only 2kms away as the crow flies, but most of that 2kms is UP, so the actual hike up there is about 5kms long. We mapped out our route last night and set off nice and early this morning, after a hearty breakfast here at our hotel which, for Shane, included half a dozen Nutella-filled croissants*.
*Note: Shane has recently discovered how amazing Nutella and fresh croissants taste. He is pretty committed to eating as many Nutella-filled croissants as it takes to conquer his addiction.
The first part of our hike took us up past the Prince’s castle again (we gave him and the missus a quick wave – no time for tea and a chat today), and into the Schwefelwald (translation = Sulphur Forest). This part of the forest certainly lived up to its name: we passed a number of malodorous springs bubbling up through the ground and crossed a few small streams that had that yellowy, sulphurous tinge to them. Apparently Liechtenstein has a few hot sulphur springs around the place, with one of the resorts up higher in the mountains even boasting a natural spring-fed spa.
The hike up the Schwefelwald was pretty steep, but lovely. It was so quiet and peaceful under the green, green canopy of the forest. It was here we saw the deer and squirrels, not that we were quick enough to take any photos – animals sure can move quickly when they need to!
It took us about 2 hours to get up the hill and out of the forest. We emerged from the forest into a world of green rolling hills, cute farmhouses and grass-munching, bell-wearing cows. It was just so perfect up there – like something out of a movie! Mind you, what the movies don’t give you is the “smell-a-vision” version – cows sure are big and man do they stink. Lucky for you our photos convey none of that countryside aroma….
The hike took us along tiny country roads for about an hour, though the farming hamlets of Rotenboden and Steinort, and on to Triesenberg. Triesenberg is a small village of 2,500 people, perched high above Vaduz at around 1,000m elevation. The village functions primarily as a commercial centre for the surrounding farms; the only church in the district is also here (St Joseph’s).
We hadn’t really expected to find much in Triesenberg and had brought some supplies with us for lunch (i.e. bananas, mixed nuts, and a couple of muesli bars), just in case there was nothing open or available for eats. Ha! We should have known better – this is, after all, Europe! This place is so civilised compared to Aus! Not only did we find something to eat in this tiny village, we found a 5-star restaurant, perched on the cliff with a view to die for, and a seasonal menu serving fare from the locale. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where we discovered that Liechtensteiniene venison ragout is delicious when served with wild mushrooms and fresh, home-made spätzle (translation = small German dumplings); and that grilled Liechtensteiniene pheasant breast goes very well with a mixed salad of freshly-picked forest greens. Lunch was awesome!
In order to work off some of our epic lunch, we decided to hike back down to Vaduz (the original plan was to catch the bus back). So we picked a different hiking trail to return by; this one took us back down through the Schlosswald (translation = Castle Forest). As the name implies, this used to be the royal family’s private woods, but they have since opened it up for serfs like us to trudge through.
Another 7kms and 2 hours of hiking through the forest got us back to our hotel where a warm shower and the pungent tang of cows and alpacas* awaited us. Definitely a good day’s adventuring – looking forward to more tomorrow!
*Note: Shane was a little disappointed we didn’t take an alpaca with us for the hike today but, as I pointed out to him, we didn’t really need one was we didn’t have any bags that needed to be carried. Besides 30CHF is a lot of money to spend on an animal that smells bad and spits at you.