I woke up under the softest, cloud-like comforter. The glowing morning light behind the thick curtain had already lightened up this spacious hotel room. My husband was still sleeping beside me, and surprisingly, the kids were still asleep in their cribs, too.
That rare morning quietness would have been my favorite if I hadn’t felt the ache in my body when I was awake. I also felt a subtle headache looming. I tried to sit up, but even that simple movement felt too demanding. I was not myself.
We were in the city of St Gallen (in the German-speaking part of Switzerland) for the second half of our five-day vacation. We checked in the hotel yesterday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to find out the room we booked was upgraded to the “junior suite.” The night before, my husband and I celebrated our fourth anniversary with an exquisite dinner at the hotel restaurant. And before driving to the city, we had spent two nights staying with a family who showered us with extravagant hospitality. We enjoyed so much hanging out with them and sharing each other’s stories. Our kids also became good friends.
This trip had been so far, so beautiful. However, when I was lying on the hotel bed that morning, feeling the whole body muscle pain and lack of strength, I wasn’t sure how the remaining two days of our vacation would look like. In fact, I was rattling inside, not sure how the next 14 days would look like—- hopefully, it was just a cold or flu I caught, but what if it was the Covid-19?
Later, the rest of the family was up. I told my husband I wasn’t feeling well. He prayed for me and assured me I would be ok soon. Thankfully, my husband and the kids didn’t feel slightly sick. After breakfast, Husband took the kids out for a stroll so I could take a nap. I took some VC and Zinc, drank a glass of orange juice, read a little, said a prayer, and fell asleep.
I woke up again around noon, just a few minutes before my family came back, still felt unwell. But I decided to push myself a little and get up anyway. It was the only full day we had in the region, and the last thing I wanted to do was staying in the hotel room the whole day.
We had planned to drive to Liechtenstein, a small monarchy country just 50 mins away. Plan B was to go to the wildlife park in the city.
When my husband returned with the kids, we decided to ask God what to do for the afternoon activity. It is something we often do. While we were waiting on God to speak to us, I got a sense of going to Liechtenstein. Honestly, I thought we were to do plan B because it’s closer. Then I looked up the weather report, and it showed the possibility of raining here in St Gallen. But Liechtenstein would be partly cloudy. So going to the zoo wouldn’t be a good idea.
I shared with my husband what I got in prayer. He felt the same. So we decided to drive to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein.
I didn’t know what to expect in Vaduz. I hadn’t done much research about this country or the city. I only knew that I wanted to visit the castle, possibly the stamp museum and find a playground for Caleb to play a little.
When we arrived, we parked the car near where the stamp museum was. Because we were short on time, we decided first to visit the castle we saw earlier on the highway. My husband told me that the royal family was still living in the castle, and I wouldn’t believe it. I thought he was joking because the castle looked so ancient from the outside.
I went on and googled, found out he was not joking.
Vaduz Castle, the symbol of the capital, lies on a hillside 120 meters above Vaduz. It is thought that the castle was constructed as a fortress as early as the 12th century.
The castle came into the ownership of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein in 1712, and the west wing served as the family’s official residence until 1732. After that, the building became increasingly dilapidated and fell into disrepair before being rebuilt and renovated between 1905 and 1912.
Under Prince Franz Josef II, the castle was extended and once again made fit for living. In 1939 the Prince moved in with his family and adopted Vaduz Castle as his official residence.
The idea of visiting the residence of a real royal family gave me great anticipation, even if it meant a lot of climbing hills with a stroller, a toddler, and my aching body.
We walked through a commercial street with many boutiques and café, turned to a 30-degree stroller-friendly hill, and came to a point where there were only stairs. I sighed, wasn’t sure if I had enough willpower to carry my weak body against the gravity any higher. But I didn’t want to stop there and let go of the rare opportunity to see a royal residence.
After catching some breaths, Husband took the baby out and carried her on his back with a carrier. We parked the stroller at the foot of the staircase and kept hiking.
Soon, the road became winding and narrow, covered with many lush trees. My legs were sore, and I was sweating, but somehow, I felt lighter. I kept taking deep breaths, soaking in the nature-surrounded moment. The beautiful aerial view of Vaduz on our right side gradually zoomed out as we got higher and higher, adding more delight on the hike.
By the time we reached the castle, the fatigue and muscle pain were completely gone. I felt great. I was amazed at the way God healed me! I may have expected to improve by taking it easy and resting more. But when we followed what God impressed on our heart for that afternoon, we saw his glory in healing, beauty, and rich history.
Despite visitors not being allowed to go inside the castle, we walked around, took many photos, and imagined how it was like inside for the royal family to dwell. It must be an utter contrast to its ancient, modest outlook.
Standing beside the grande historical architecture, feeling a renewed vigor flowing through my body and surprised by an otherworldly sweet joy, I was humbly reminded again that what was inside couldn’t be judged from the outside. In parallel, what appeared to be the way (the seemingly logical way) to the desired place ( healing ) wasn’t always the timely right way. How often, we thought we knew, but we didn’t.
Nevertheless, I was grateful that God’s way is always better than mine. Even without understanding everything, I can trust His lead, and I can have hope.
Dear friend, I hope you too. 🙂