I awoke early Monday morning to the local church bells pealing three gongs - 3:00 a.m. Our window was wide open to the sweet fresh country air and the sound of a merrily gurgling Sitter River. (Jim wants to know if its tributary is called the Baby Sitter. Such are the trials of travelling with my husband.) A huge sigh escaped from my body, a body snuggly buried, warm against the nighttime chill, under a poofie eiderdown. Does life get better?
What a wonderful introduction Appenzell has been to traditional Switzerland. It is a feast for the both the eyes, with its rolling green hills and baby Alps, and the stomach, with its famous beer and scrumptious cheese. Appenzell citizens are mellow, extremely welcoming and often exhibit a bizarre sense of humour. On Saturday, we happened upon a "pick-up yodelling group". I kid you not! No money requested, no special costumes, just a group of friends who yodel together once a week. I was completely unprepared for the haunting beauty created by the repeated changes of pitch of a single note. Quite remarkable!
Lush green hills, scattered with dairy farms and quaint villages were our welcome to the region as we negotiated the scenic narrow winding roads to the town of Appenzell. We are truly in cow country. When I think of Appenzell in the future, I will forever in my mind hear cow bells and the mooing of cattle. We will regretfully miss the ceremonial procession of flower-bedecked cows and whistling herders in formal folk costumes as they march their milk cows down from the high pastures to local farms for autumn and winter. The procession is to pass through town on Wednesday and we sadly will be long gone.
And so just how traditional, aside from spontaneous yodelling, is Appenzell? Well, try Landsgemeindeplatz, the town square where open-air elections take place the last Sunday in April with a "show of hands" vote by citizens donned in traditional dress. Hey Mr. Ford, let's all jam into Nathan Philips Square for the next civic election? Oh, and women did not get the vote until 1991. Yup, that 's correct - 1991!
So what have you done in this traditional little canton representing just one percent of the Swiss population? We have toured the family owned Locher Brewery. A humourous, quirky tour offered insight into their unique brewing process. Believe it or not, the company also makes an excellent whiskey with peat from a bog to be found just outside the Town of Appenzell. That was a surprise! For all who know Jim, you will no doubt smile when I mention that fact. We have walked the charming town streets marvelling at some of Switzerland's most colourful house fronts. Each facade is gaily decorated in pastel colours or festooned with a mass of flowers whether it is a residence, cafe, commercial enterprise, etc. This morning was spent at Appenzeller Schaukaserie in the Town of Stein where we toured their cheese production facility and then enjoyed a cheese tasting. To me, the cheese smells like sweaty hockey socks (a coating of herbs and brine), but surprisingly is absolutely delicious. Most Swiss cheese fondues contain some of this famous Appenzeller cheese. Over fifty-six metric tonnes are exported to Canada, alone. From Wasserrauen, we took a cable car up the 5380-foot Ebenalp then climbed further to enjoy lunch at a charming little restaurant atop the peak. I viewed this as training for the Schilthorn and Jungfrau ascents to follow as we get into the Bernese Oberland.
I am not going to bore you to z-z-z-z with every adventure. Appenzell Canton and Town have been a delight in hospitality.
And this is all folks until the Bernese Oberland.