I am guilty. Of striving towards the extreme, of adding a bit of extra contrast and brightness here and there, of saying “great” and “awesome” too often, of not saying no and ending up restless somewhere in between a big city and the mountains. Until I felt the urge to take a step backwards, to be more modest, to want less and watch closer.
So when Lutz proposed to not drive as far this time, to skip the ever amazing Dolomites and take the risk of trying something new, it sounded just like what I had in mind. A vacation in a tiny country that a lot of people have never even heard of? Let’s go.
Jesper flew to Berlin, we drove down to Frankfurt, threw Jenni into the van, met Lutz near Lake Constance, went budget food shopping (no meals at huts, no eating out, keep it simple, right?) and a little later we were sitting at Markus’ table with his family, enjoying pasta and home made pesto. Markus Büchel is a local rider and known for organizing ELSBET, a wicked mountain unicycling convention with shuttles up to the mountain and incredibly good downhill trails that attracts riders from all over the world to come to Liechtenstein. Markus gave us a stack of maps, marked some trails and none of us listend to his directions for good camping spots well enough.
We found it anyhow. And I have to say, it was one okay spot.
In the morning, we made pancakes for an hour.
Then we started hour two peak tour.
12 hours later we were done. And a bit tired.
The next day, we hiked up Fürstensteig, a trail that you can be save to call exposed.
We rode some of it down, but didn’t want to die, so there was walking, too.
Jesper threw his unicycle down the mountain, but not himself, luckily.
The next day, we had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Mountain bikers passing by declared jealousy, but didn’t want to accept our offer to sit down and eat with us.
We rode a very good trail down to the mountain.
And called it a rest day.
When Markus came to ride with us the next day, he took us across the border to the big neighbour – Switzerland. And he showed us how mountain people ride.
Another 12 hour tour…
…another day of Markus showing us off on the trails…
…and another rest day with climbing in the rain, cooking in the van and catching 38 flies with shot glasses to show them the exit of the van. Once again, Jesper proved his superhero skills and moved quicker than the flies could react.
When it was still raining on the morning of our last day, we couldn’t believe how lucky we had been all week, dropped off Jenni at a train station, Lutz at his car near the big lake and headed back north. It must have been during the seventh hour of driving, that I realized this had been one of the most luxurious trips I ever went on. Not only because we washed in a river or a cow watering place every day.
But did my plan to slow down and be more frugal work? Yes and no. Yes, because we didn’t do anything but eat, sleep and ride. We didn’t go up the highest mountain ever and neither did we see the most beautiful landscape ever. We stayed in one tiny country for a week and explored its mountains and valleys, rather than looking for higher and better ones every day. But.
Liechtenstein makes it hard to be modest. This tiny paradise in the mountains gave us great mountain adventures, kind people, perfect weather. And we had our supercook with us. So somehow, this turned into a five star vacation, while I still managed to slow down a bit. The next step will be to do exactly that in the city, too. Slow down, do less, enjoy it more. If only that was as easy as climbing a big ass mountain.
Jenni & Markus, thank you for taking photos and waiting for me.