Friday, 8 July 2011

Liechtenstein, You Pointless Sod

Since we last spoke I've done two more countries. Well, I haven't really done Switzerland yet - I've only just poked my nose around its door. And yesterday I didn't really do Liechtenstein because there really was nothing to do. I apologise to any Liechtensteiners reading this but I just have to ask: 'What exactly is the point of you?'

I was expecting Liechtenstein to be another Luxembourg, y'know, a place that doesn't really draw the masses but hides a little gem. But whereas Luxembourg was gorgeous, Liechtenstein wasn't anything at all. The good views it possesses actually belong to Austria and Switzerland sitting either side of it. The capital, Vaduz, has the population of a Port Vale versus Grimsby match on a wet Saturday in February and with even less to entertain you. Let me illustrate this with an example: Liechtenstein's biggest tourist draw is a denture factory. Dear me.

It could have been so much more. There's an attractive, little castle up on the hill over Vaduz. Unfortunately, the royal family live up there, gurning smugly from on high, and won't let us proles have a look inside. We're supposed to be content with the gnashers emporium while they lounge around on thrones, smoking €500 notes and eating swan butties.

Last night - my first in Switzerland - there was a storm. It wasn't a massive storm. It rained quite a lot, there was a little thunder and lightning, and for one brief moment it blew a bit, but it was nothing to worry about. Not unless you're the tent pole of my Hilleberg Nallo GT2. In which case it was such a devastating occasion that the only sensible thing to do was to go into a deep panic and snap once again.

You may be thinking that my tent had been doing well of late since I haven't mentioned it self-destructing for a while. But that's not really true. Rooms were cheap in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And then I had well over a week in Austria staying with mates. And then, bizarrely, rooms in the eastern half of Austria weren't too expensive either. So I've only actually used the tent five times since Prague. Here, have some statistics (as of 8th July):

Number of times tent used on this trip: 37
Number of broken poles: 8
Days per broken pole: 4.625
Number of remaining spare pieces if I continue to use just two poles instead of three: 5
Estimated number of camping days before having only one working pole renders tent utterly useless: 23

Now, in Switzerland and France, rooms are expensive and so I'll need to camp every day. I return from my Open University residential on the 25th July. This means - by my calculations - I have until 17th August before the tent is a goner. Unless Hilleberg, the tent's manufacturer, can replace the broken poles with their new and much improved version. Failing that, it'll have to go in the bin. Or maybe I'm missing an opportunity: I could take the knackered tent back to Liechtenstein and open it as a tourist attraction. Roll up, roll up!


  1. Graham Martin-Royle9 July 2011 at 14:25

    I used to drive tourists around Europe and on certain trips we would spend a night at a campsite in Vaduz. Everyone would be really excited as we entered this little country that most had never even heard of. I would drive around the town ring road (which took all of 2 minutes and then let everyone out to have a wander around, telling them to be back in 1/2 hr. Every time I did this I got the same complaints, more time was needed, and every time all my passengers were back well within the allotted time asking if we could go now! Vaduz must be one of the most boring little towns in the world. It's not even nice to look at.

  2. I like it. So it's not just me then.