National Geographic : 1927 Nov
ROUND ABOUT LIECHTENSTEIN A Tiny Principality Which the Visitor May Encompass in a Single View Affords Adventurous Climbs Among Steep Pastures and Quaint Villages BY MAYNARD OWEN WILLIAMS AUTHOR OF "CZECHOSLOVAKIA, THE KEY-LAND TO CENTRAL EUROPE," "LATVIA, HOME OF THE LETTS," "THE GRAND DUCHY OF LUXEMBURG," "STRUGGLING POLAND," ETC., IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author IF YOU are a map traveler, Liechten stein-bound, follow the castled Rhine, skirt the Black Forest to Basel, swing east past the Falls to the shed at Fried richshafen, where Uncle Sam's Zeppelin, the Los Angeles, was built, and you are on the Lake of Constance, or Bodensee, shared by Switzerland, Austria, and Ger many. Turn south for 20 miles up the broad valley between Switzerland and Austria and you reach the northern tip of the Principality of Liechtenstein, which for the next 15 miles looks west across the Rhine. To reach Liechtenstein in person re quires self-discipline. One must leave Paris and Switzerland behind and stop short of Vienna and Budapest. Forego an evening in Paris, be aboard the Budapest sleeper just before 9 and before lunch time you will arrive at Buchs. In the station the Babel of tongues was being systematized by linguistic hybrids who translated confusion into sense. Yet the queue stopped so long that the express snorted impatiently. Then we moved on. "My word !" ejaculated the man in front of me. "It was a Dutchman trying to talk Esperanto to the booking clerk." "You people don't care to learn new lan guages," objected another Esperanto dele gate, still aggressively enthusiastic after a Zurich convention in favor of a common medium of expression. "But here in Cen tral Europe we do." * We rolled across an imposing canal, passed over the Rhine, and, after two miles, stopped. * See, also, "The Battle-Line of Languages in Central Europe," by A. L. Guerard, in the NA TIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for February, 1923. "No one gets out here," proclaimed the conductor. He was misinformed. I saw my trunk outside, noticed the name "Schaan-Vaduz" on the station, salvaged my suitcase and camera, and dropped from the moving train into Liechtenstein. To the right the narrow plain be tween mile-high mountains and the Rhine stretched away toward Sargans, off the south tip of the Lilliputian land. To the left was the "low country." The express had tossed me off at the division line be tween Schellenberg and Vaduz, once sepa rate units, and fiefs of the Roman Empire. One who thinks of the Principality as a part of the Swiss Customs Union expects this small mountain-side State to be west of the Rhine, leaning against St. Gallen in stead of hanging to the shoulder of Vorarl berg. But political changes hurdle a river easier than mile-high mountains do. Until 1919, free Liechtenstein was economically allied to Austria. The "K. K.," denoting Kaiser and King, on the Schaan post office, though partly obliterated, is still visible. Here the Rhine is no romantic river for deep-water sailors, with a prima donna mermaid parading her tresses before bobbed-haired tourists. It is a shallow, stony torrent bed, now dry in spots, now foaming with the force of Alpine glaciers. Man has taken the river in hand, over come its meandering habits, and confined it between prosaic, though curving, banks.* Between the Rhine and the sway-back ridge of Liechtenstein is a narrow plain * See, also, "Rediscovering the Rhine: A Trip by Barge from the Sea to the Headwaters of Europe's Storied Stream," by Melville Chater, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for July, 1925.