Feature

A dream by the Rhine

PARAG RANJAN DUTTA writes about the serene city of Vaduz in the Alpine region

In 2012, my wife and I joined a group of 40 tourists on a 15-day trip to Europe. It was August and the weather was in full glory.

After spending three nights in Engelberg, Switzerland, we were headed to Austria through the principality of Liechtenstein, one of the most beautiful European countries. While travelling from Engelberg to Innsbrucfk in Austria, we had the fortune of spending some time at Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, and Wattens, the beautiful town in Austria.

The beauty of the entire route was stunning while travelling from Engelberg. The Alps and the mountain lakes were our constant companion to the left. We had toilet and coffee break at Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. The country has a geographical area of only 160 sqkm and a population of 38,114 (2018).

Situated by the Rhine, Vaduz is an important tourist destination for European travellers. It is the only European country with 100% of its area in the Alpine region. In reality, this German-speaking nation does not enjoy the status of a country or a kingdom but a principality in the Holy Roman Empire and the ruler is a prince. Alois is the hereditary prince of Liechtenstein and supposed to be one of the richest men in the world.

Vaduz was so serene and quiet. We were fortunate to spend about half an hour in this sleepy town. The main tourist attractions of this beautiful town are tram rides drawn by two coaches and the majestic Vaduz castle, which is the official residence of the prince and his family. Possibly it is the cleanest settlement we had seen during our entire tour.

The author with wife at the entrance of the Swarovski Museum

Literally, one can sleep on the roads of Vaduz. I had no desire to waste a single precious moment, so after a brief photo session with my wife, I moved away from the group and went out to explore the magical charm and mesmerizing beauty.

I was on a photography spree. The beautiful roads, cosy roadside cafes, lovely houses with flowers hanging from balconies, streets with almost no traffic and the presence of the mighty Alps were my inspiration.

After spending about 30 minutes, which I shall ruminate throughout my life, we left for Innsbruck, the capital of the Tyrol state of Austria. Alps is now much closer. Suddenly, the coach driver turned right and came descending to a valley, where we were told would be the place for our lunch break. We had our packed lunch in a sprawling green grassy carpet. Some of us preferred shady area under the canopy of the conifers near a beautiful fountain. That was a different experience in our trip to Europe.

After spending wonderful moments in the lap of Mother Nature, we proceeded to Wattens, 13 km from Innsbruck, for a visit to the famous Swarovski Crystal Museum. The road to Wattens was a real treat to the eyes. The beauty of the Austrian Alps was breath-taking. The crystal world itself is flanked on one side by the Alps and the gently rolling Alpine meadow. What a wonderful backdrop for this famous brand!

On entering the museum, I was amazed to see a life-size replica of Chetak, the legendary horse of Maharana Pratap, studded with precious gems. We had a splendid time there and after enjoying cappuccino, we headed to Innsbruck, situated by the river Inn. The day’s journey came to an end when we checked in to the hotel rooms. But the memories never stopped coming back.

(The author is former Head of the Department of Geography at St Edmund’s College)

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