Today our first destination is Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. From there, we drive along Lake Constance to Hohenzollern Castle, where the House of Hohenzollern began (i.e. the family of the Kaisers that ruled the German Empire), and then we end the trip in Stuttgart, the city I once spent eight months in for an internship.
Vaduz is the capital of Liechtenstein, a country that some people have probably never heard of before, and people who have heard of it probably don’t know where it is on the map. In fact, it’s a tiny country that’s sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria. Miraculously, this country, originally a part of the Holy Roman Empire, never got conquered. It survived empires rising and falling around it, namely Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon’s French Empire, Austria-Hungary, the German Empire, and Nazi Germany, just to name a few. Because it survived the political upheaval around it, it is still ruled by a prince (i.e. a principality) like it always was.
The above image shows the residence of the prince. It feels like some strange anachronism – a prince living in a castle on top of a hill ruling over his subjects, but in a modern time.
Even though it’s the capital of Liechtenstein, it only has ~5000 inhabitants – by no means large at all. Its vibe is quite different from other European cities – it doesn’t have a fancy old town or anything, but there are several museums of art and history, as well as the Princely Wine Cellars, which is a vineyard where guests can do wine tastings.
I jokingly asked the fellow at the tourist info centre if he’d ever met the Prince of Liechtenstein, and he actually said yes! He said that everyone who turns 18 gets invited to an event called the Young Citizens Celebration (Jungbürgerfeier) to meet the prince.
From Vaduz, we drove into Germany, to where the House of Hohenzollern began, Hohenzollern Castle. These are the same Hohenzollerns, whose family members once ruled Prussia and the German Empire, among other places. Even the last Kaiser of the German Empire, Kaiser Wilhelm II, is a Hohenzollern. Today, the castle is still privately owned by the family,
The only way to see the interior of the castle is to pay for the guided tour, and on that guided tour there are no photos allowed. The coolest part of the guided tour is the room showing the entire known family tree of the Hohenzollerns. It even goes into detail as to which branch of the family is part of the Catholic Swabian branch, or the Protestant Franconian branch.
Today was the first day of the trip that actually snowed! The last several days were a bit windy and cool, but still above zero centigrade, but suddenly today, the weather dipped and it started snowing!
It’s kind of nice driving while it’s snowing as long as it’s not a total blizzard.
In 2011, I spent eight months in Stuttgart for an internship while I was in university, and since then I went back again in 2013 and now again in 2020. I remember in 2013, it still felt pretty nostalgic, but now nine years later, I found that I’ve forgotten a lot of places and barely knew my way around. The feeling was totally different. It felt a lot more distant – like a place I used to know.
Before we left, we planned to eat at Sophie’s Brauhaus, the brewery that my friends and I used to go a lot to. I knew what I wanted to order before we even went – spaetzle with lentils and sausage. Spaetzle is a German pasta with eggs (as a opposed to other types of pasta which may not have as much egg in it). It’s easily one of the most Swabian dishes there is (Swabia is a region in Germany with its own culture and language). And of course we ordered beers, because after all we were at a brewery. I even ordered a bananenweizen – a wheat beer mixed with banana juice (yes, it’s a thing).
When I ate the dish, it didn’t connect with my nostalgia at all, I just remembered having nostalgia for it. Same with the beer I had. This was the place I had my first real German beer, and now there was zero connection between what I tasted now and the nostalgia. I mean the food and the beer was still delicious, but in my head, I definitely was looking for that emotional connection.