Wherein DF travels to Mitteleuropa and recounts his merrie adventures to his adoring broad readership.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Chillin in the FL

FL, as the BR may well know, stands for F├╝rstentums Liechtenstein (Principality of Liechtenstein), and it is where I currently lay my scene. Where? asks the BR. Well, at this point I might refer you to the one of the veeeeery first posts of this blog where I roadmapped the trip and gave hints that a trip to this obscure nationlet would be in the offing, but that wouldn`t be too cool. Instead I will simply note that Liechtenstein is one of the smallest independent countries in the world, just over a hundred square miles large, and a mere 6km across. It is squeezed into the Alps between Austria and Switzerland, and while nominally an independent country, it is dependent on Switzerland for its national defense, border control, postal system, currency, and other infrastructural necessities.

In FL`s defense, it does have its own bus and telephone system, a cool castle, a pretty good football team (about which more later), some hiking and skiing trails, distinctive postage stamps, and some very lax banking laws that give it a high standard of living (and damn high prices to go with it, alas).

Fair enough, you reply, but why the FL as opposed to any other country? Well, part of it is the novelty value. Even as I sit here in the national library (the top two stories of an office building), having just taken a brief walk down the street to Switzerland and back, I cannot help but be indordinately psyched at being at the heart of one of the world`s strangest geographical oddities. I have long been fascinated with accidents of geopolitical fate that resulted in minicountries like Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, etc., but have yet to visit one. Now here I am.

For the vast majority of you who find this predilection for geographical oddity utterly obscure, I proffer reason numero dos: denouement. I`ve been on the road for a long time now, coming up on five weeks, and the last three or so especially have been great but really quite intense. In the interest of taking some time to relax and reflect on it all before I return to the States, I thought the FL would be an ideal place. A little hiking, a little chillin, a little updating the blog--good times. More on what one does (or, at least, what I do) in this prince among principalities soon.