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the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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[Travel Thursday] Ich Liebe Liechtenstein

 

Liechtenstein is one of those countries I had always wanted to visit. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s a tiny landlocked country I never thought I’d have a real reason to visit so it seemed kind of an unattainable goal (when your list of countries to visit in your lifetime includes all the countries in the world, you kind of have to prioritize). It was one of the pitstops of this year’s European road trip and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It’s tiny. Really tiny. No, tinier than that. 160 sq kilometers in total (62 sq miles). And it’s cute like all tiny things are. You know, the same way mini pies are yummier than bigger pies and puppies are cuter than big dogs.

Some facts about little Liechtenstein:

~ It is the only country to lie entirely within the Alps, stuck in between Austria and Switzerland.

~ It is not part of the European Union so even if, like me, you have a European passport, you’re still exiting the Union when you enter Liechtenstein. They’re nice and don’t make you show them your passport. If you want, just for the hell of it, you can pay them a couple of Euros to go to the Tourism Board and get a stamp on your passport. Being the cheesy tourist I am, I had to do it.

~ It is the sixth smallest independent nation in the world

~ It is only one of two double landlocked countries in the world (a landlocked country surrounded by other landlocked countries). The other country isĀ UzbekistanĀ  This means no short beach trips for people from Liechtenstein. Bit of a bummer.

~ It has more registered companies than citizens. Tax haven, anyone?

~ It is one of the few countries in the world that has no army. In fact, the Liechtenstein National Police, the only force responsible for keeping order in the country, consists of only 125 employees (87 field officers and 38 civilian staff). Back in 2007, during a military exercise, Switzerland accidentally invaded Liechtenstein. The Swiss soldiers got lost at night and went 1.5k into Liechtenstein. Switzerland later apologised for the mistake.

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Click on the photos if you want to see them bigger!

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That morning I ran from one side of the country to the other (well, sort of)

The face may say "I'm excited so let's run" but the reality was more like "it's cold so let's run!"

The face may say “I’m excited so let’s run” but the reality was more like “it’s cold so let’s run!”

A couple of months ago, I watched the video shot by Andrew Evans (National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad) of his run across Liechtenstein. Coincidentally, I watched it just days after I had driven across Liechtenstein (during an amazing European road trip I really should tell you more about one of these days) and had one of those I-wish-I-had-thought-of-that-myself moments. Liechtenstein is a tiny country and one of the few where someone like me can actually run the length of it in one go so I was a bit bummed about not having thought of that.

But never mind. On Sunday, S. and I sort of did that. Well, not really. Let me explain. New Zealand can get really narrow in some points. Conveniently enough, one of those points is right near where we live which means we got to run from one side of the country to the other, technically, in what was only a 16k run.

coasttocoast1

I made a sweet, sweet illustration in MS Paint to scientifically prove we ran from one side of the country to the other.

The Auckland Coast to Coast Walkway is an official walk established and maintained by the city council, that takes walkers (or, in our case, runners) from the Manukau Harbour (Onehunga) to the Waitemata Harbour (Viaduct), on the other side of the city (and the island). Along those 16k, whether you’re walking or running, you get a really good taste for what Auckland really is all about. Boring suburbs, yes, some of that. But also an amazing range of great parks and reserves, extinct volcanoes, historic buildings, etc.

Then realised the thick pink lines in that image covered evidence of water on both sides so used all my skills to create yet another masterpiece.

Then realised the thick pink lines in that image covered evidence of water on both sides so used all my skills to create yet another masterpiece, this time zooming in on the map a bit more. SO MUCH TALENT.

The course itself is fairly well marked by blue signs with arrows (if you’re going from Onehunga to the Viaduct, which is the way we went) or yellow arrows if you choose to start from the Waitemata Harbour side. There were only two or three occasions when there wasn’t a sign telling us which way to turn so we sort of had to take a guess. Luckily, the signs were not far apart and, surprisingly, we never got lost along the way. The arrows also tell you where you should cross the streets but I’m not entirely sure you should take their advice every single time (some of them seemed to have been placed in random spots, away from traffic lights or crossings). Other than that, the route was really well chosen, leading us through reserves whenever there was one nearby, and up and down special places like One Tree Hill, Mount Eden and the Auckland Domain.

Not being great fans of routes that loop around and force us to see us the same things twice, we were pretty pleased with this run. There was always something nice to look at and 16k was an easy enough distance, only made slightly more difficult by the elevation of the terrain in certain areas (but that’s only a worry if you have enough will-power to run every single hill, which we don’t).

So there you have it. From one side of the country to the other. Another training run down, about a bazillion to go.

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Not completely unrelated, there’s a guy who’s not cutting any corners and can actually claim to be running the length of the entire country, top to bottom, rather than across one of its narrowest parts. Dan Burgess is just about finished with his epic running adventure from Bluff (down the far South) to Cape Reinga (right at the very top). He is raising money to aid Parkinson’s UK and Cystic Fibrosis NZ and if you’d like to help his fundraising efforts, you can do so through here or here.