Guest post: Hitchtenstein: Hitching to Liechtenstein – by Conor Bolas (A Bolas About)

In this week’s guest post… we find Conor, and his friend Leo, on the trail of adventure to one of Europe’s smallest states Liechtenstein. Proving, no matter how big or how small, the opportunities to learn something new are endless…

Hitchtenstein: Hitching to Liechtenstein

View of Liechtenstein our of car window - by Conor Bolas. Hitching to Liechtenstein

So! The other week, myself and Leo decided to go and see a very small country – Liechtenstein!

I literally knew nothing about this place except that it’s one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world and it is very small. To show how small it is, here is an outline I drew on a post-it note at work, comparing L-Stein and Sleat (my peninsula of the Isle of Skye in Scotland) at the same scale:

Slet & Liechtenstein comparison - by Conor Bolas. Hitching to Liechtenstein

So, other things about Liechtenstein:

  • World number one exporter of false teeth and sausage casings (I LOVE THIS FACT).
  • Has a small monarchy, and the Prince – who’s a hell of a guy – throws a free party for the ENTIRE country once a year.
  • It is very similar to Switzerland – Swiss German, expensive, Swiss Francs etc etc.
  • Capital is Vaduz and population is 36,000.
  • The beloved Rhine flows past, acting as the Swiss/L-stein border.

Needless to say for Switzerland, the train costs several arms and many legs – so we hitchhiked! Excellent fun. Starting in Rheinfelden and ending up 2 minutes from our front door, look at the Google Maps here:

So we got lifts very easily, the longest we waited was about 2 hours in Austria, trying to get out of Feldkirch, but generally it was very good. We also got stuck in the centre on St. Gallen and had to get a bus out to the periphery.

There is a funny thing with hitchhiking. Time and time again, I am told, “Oh, you shouldn’t hitch here, no one will pick you up” or “Ooh, don’t hitch in Switzerland, nobody does it and no one will pick you up.” Well, I have found that these two ideas that people have, actually get you a lift much easier – people will see you standing at the edge of the road and think: “Poor guy, he’ll never get a lift there, I’ll pick him up.” Everyone thinks this and hence I get plenty of lifts. No matter where you are, you will ALWAYS get a lift eventually. Just don’t be in a rush to get anywhere for any specific time. An exception to this may be at night-time, no one will actually pick you up then, unless you are VERY lucky.

This is just a theory of mine, and I would like to hear some other opinions.

So yeah, we got a lift with these crazy guys just before Winterthur; a Swiss lady, a German-speaking American and a baby. They were on the run from her crazy ex-boyfriend, who had been bad to her and was taking secret pictures of her house and sending them to her to creep her out. Crazy stuff. While they were speaking German, we definitely heard the term Nazi being used. They were very friendly though, and let us stop to get a drink. He had some pretty strong opinions about things, I won’t say any more other than he was definitely 100% a racist. Nuts.

Anyway, they dropped us in Wil, which as Leo and I discussed was Wil-ie nice. HAR HAR HAR Standard purchase of a beer, roll, cheese, pepper and salami for lunch – awesome!

Leo in Wil - by Conor Bolas. Hitching to Liechtenstein

Then we walked out and got a lift with a guy who confused us no end by taking us to Liechtensteig, and assuming that was where we wanted to be. Felt bad, because it was out of his way anyway. Hmm, anyway we managed to get across the mountains from here, dropped near the border and walked into Liechtenstein at about 8.00pm as it was starting to rain and was getting dark.

Some mountains we had to hitch through, here in a village called Wildhaus - by Conor Bolas. Hitching to Liechtenstein

First impression was that it is small, the town Shann is easily walked around and doesn’t have any bars or anything (which was number one priority so as to meet some Liechtensteiners). Also, everyone it seemed was about 15 years old and dressed in tight neon clothes, lense-less glasses, tacky tank-tops or ripped purple fish-net tights or whatever. We were seriously like, WTF is this country all about! Like a little bubble of bizarre tacky-Euro-fashion-gone-crazy type fashion. We had a very amusing and short bus ride to Vaduz in a huge crowd of these young neon-clad Liechtensteiners. It transpired that there was a big bad-taste party that night and ALL the Liechtensteiner youth were attending. Thank god for that.

So we had a beer, met some locals who moaned that there was nothing to do and it was very expensive and then went to find somewhere to camp. One girl said that she never wanted to leave Liechtenstein because everywhere else was dangerous, HAHA. Like Switzerland, no one seems to know the rules for camping, so we spent 20 mins fumbling in a dark forest before finding a spot and setting up the tent. Hilarious to wake up in the morning and see where we’d camped, literally on a kind of compost heap place, with someone’s house right opposite the road behind a hedge HAHA

Camping in the woods - by Conor Bolas. Hitching to Liechtenstein

The morning involved a trek up the hill and through the woods to get a good view. We accidentally trespassed onto the Prince of Liechtenstein’s gardens and awesome swimming pool! A rapid retreat saw us find a way out of the woods and had a lovely breakfast of straight-from-the-tree apples right beside the Prince’s Castle! Pretty sweet! Lovely stuff.

Vaduz, Liechtenstein - by Conor Bolas

We then went into Vaduz again to twat around some souvenir shops and hitched out. Our one Liechtenstein lift was great, very Lichtenstein-esque, a very small lady in a tiny car took us like 2 seconds. Haha. Did I mention it was small?

Then we had lunch in Feldkirch in lovely Austria, thank god for those normal prices! Then we got stuck for ages, but eventually got a series of interesting lifts to the Swiss border – brilliant. Hitching in a huge traffic jam is hilarious, but kind of awkward as some people have to avoid your thumb, intense gaze and smile for a very long time. LOL

Bloomin’ love souv-shops - by Conor Bolas. Hitching to Liechtenstein

So then this tres cool couple picked us up and took us to St Gallen, which we had to bus out of. Then we got a lift with this AWESOME MAN who took us WAY out of his way to drop us in a good spot; this guy was a couchsurfer, so I knew he would be awesome. Our dropping place was a crazy huge service station above the road on the highway to Basel, a great hippie lady who was a massage teacher picked us up here and took us literally to within two minutes of our home in Basel. Couldn’t have asked for better. God I love hitch-hiking.

Anyway so that was our semi-epic trip to Liechtenstein and back! Excellent time! Cool place to visit too.

And I would like to say a big thank you to all our lifts!

The young lady who picked us up first at Rheinfelden, literally the first car to pass us.
The slightly older lady who circled back to pick us up
The cool young German couple
The crazy people running from the perhaps-Nazi man
The young professional who took us to Liechtensteig
The German guy with no English
The cool old lady who took us over the mountains
The young guy in the shite car that took us two minutes down the road
The young guy in the sweet car that took us two minutes down the road
The small Liechtenstein lady
The Austrian couple
The Austrian guy
The film crew, who were doing an Austrian TV show
The Austrian political lady on her campaign
The tres cool couple
The couchsurfing man
The hippie massage expert lady

written by: Conor Bolas

“So. I’m Conor from the Isle of Skye (Scotland), where I learned The Art of Thumb getting to and from work in the Scottish rain. I’m currently living it up in Switzerland, using my experience in the Highlands to get around this new awesome country.  Adventures abound…”

visit his blog at: abolasabout.wordpress.com

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4 comments

  • Nice post Conor. That’s one place I’d not ventured, so good to hear something I didn’t know :)
    Must be a hell of a change from Skye though!

  • You wanted comments on your theory: I ran into the same attitude in Northern Ireland in 1983. I was often picked up by people who said they felt so sorry for me, because hitch hiking was now so poor “due to the Troubles.” In fact, I found it a bit better than Scotland. It was in the peaceful Irish Republic I found the hitching very slow.