..and we’d already seen so much. We consulted the Textilland brochure again and set the satnav for our next destination.
Our route was taking us uphill, into the Appenzell area and what’s more, the sun was trying to shine!
We made an uplanned stop in Heiden, feeling ready for some fresh air and a look around. It was around 12.30pm by now and since rural Switzerland tends to close for lunch, there were few people about (the story of our day!)
The fresh, clean mountain air was, well, breathtaking and pottering about, we noted the picnic table in the middle of the village green. The table formed the cross and the four stools on each corner the background – except it was the wrong way round for the Swiss flag? But maybe a white table would not have been a practical choice? Who knows?
We love the way Swiss villages present local information so clearly, with detailed maps and places of interest. Our own village at home could use something similar, since there are no house numbers at all and people are frequently lost!
The smart hotel overlooked the railway station and the valley below and we wandered over to take a closer look.
The ground floor level had been turned into a kind of showroom for a local electrical store and in the window was a washing machine on special offer. We’ve commented all weekend about the prices here and our German friends with whom we had dinner after the concert joked about how poor they feel when they are in Switzerland. So I took a photograph of the washing machine to compare prices. Bearing in mind that today, 1 Swiss Franc (CHF) is worth £0.81, this washing machine has been reduced from £1 852 to £1 528. A bargain? It proved difficult to compare, since this appears to be an exclusively Swiss model (a means of Miele making comparison difficult, perhaps?) but the closest equivalent I could find in John Lewis is just less than £1000. It must be so tempting to go shopping over the border in Germany.
As we stood looking about, a young man came out of the office and asked how we liked Heiden. Had we had chance to look around yet? We replied that we had, but if he could share any further “must sees” we’d be glad of his suggestions.
“How about the Red Cross Memorial?” he said.
Just around the corner from the square, overlooking Lake Constance, is a memorial to Jean Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross, who died in a nursing home in Heiden in 1910.
It was a rather brutal design, but very much of its time I suppose.
It stood in a large open space too, offering room for commemoration and large gatherings. Unusually, the peace and tranquillity was spoiled by a young man sitting on a bench nearby playing loud music on a radio – such an unusual occurrence in these days of earphones !
(and of course, the significance of the colours of the picnic set on the green fell into place, too)
OK, thank you, Heiden, for an hour of fresh air and fun. Time to move on and make our way to our destination, Trogen.
We could see where we were headed, over there, to the village on the hillside.
It had clouded over again but was dry and still quite mild.
The Post buses are a frequent sight around here, with regular services (mostly hourly) between all the villages but this is the first time we’ve seen a double decker!
The two small children who had just got off the bus and were walking home from school wearing rucksacks and bobble hats looked like the pair from the StartRite advertisement.
At the top of the hill, there we were, in the Landgemeinplatz Trogen. This is where the inhabitants of the village would gather to place their vote during elections, by raising their hands. We parked the car outside the Zellweger’s “Double Palace” and headed off, following the recommendation of the leaflet to begin at the wash house.
The story of our day, it all appeared to be closed. Not a soul in sight. Never mind, we thought, we’re still enjoying our mooch about. But of course, I had to try the door…
as I did, it creaked open, the lights came on and a multi-media presentation began! We took our seats on a stone windowsill, sitting on cushions placed there for the purpose, and learned about the textile heritage of this small town and the family who developed it, the Zellwegers.
We loved it! Here we were, quite alone (again) in a small Swiss village with such a well thought out visitor experience. How pleased we were to have discovered it.
When it finished, we stood outside, rather captivated by the whole thing and thinking that before we moved on, we’d like time to sit and assimilate some of what we’d learned. Thankfully, Einkehrlokal Ernst was just over the road, so we made our way over and knew it was a great decision!
A warm welcome (from Michi) delicious soft drinks and the scrummiest of chäschüechli (little cheese tarts) hit the spot and I loved the little details in the decor too. First class!
Time to return to the square and to visit the three remaining locations on our “Zellweger Route”.
The cute logo clearly identified the relevant spots.
First, the church. I don’t need to tell you there wasn’t anyone there, do I?
There was, however, a rack of guide boards – only as I took one from the stand did I realise it was a piece of mirror glass! Be careful…
Very useful though, even if I did have to watch out for steps and other pitfalls which I might miss by peering into the mirror!
Just around the corner were the weavers’ cottages, rather grander and more solid (though also rather younger) than the cottages built for the same purpose in our own Cotswold village.
Back into the Square, the beautifully painted Hotel Krone wasn’t on our list but nevertheless caught our eye for obvious reasons!
We were heading for the Gemeindehaus, formerly another of the Zellweger’s properties and now the site of a small museum on the third floor.
The interior was just lovely and of course, we had it to ourselves. As we made our way upstairs, lights came on automatically and the door was open to the exhibition.
I was immediately taken by the textile vocabulary printed on the screen. Lovely words, auf Deutsch, natürlich , with names of fabric and the processes which were associated with them.
Here’s the dress on the other side. I’m sorry, I didn’t note the significance.
Here was another self-service collection to peruse. Lovely books with samples and clear explanations, though yes, more than a smattering of German was needed.
There was a huge table, filled with collections of material such as these old almanacs from the Zellwegers’ time. Were they original? I have no idea. I just loved looking through them.
The box of photocopied letters was full of sheets filled with dense handwriting.
Some was projected onto the wall, as an animation so as if someone was writing it, speaking it as they went. Rather lovely.
There was a small library
and floor standing browsers with large reproductions of maps, engravings and drawings
all mounted on heavy corrugated card and impeccably presented.
Best of all there were the fabrics.
Each one was carefully labelled with the details. Well of course it was!
As we returned downstairs, still a little awestruck by the whole Zellweger thing, we spotted the image of the Landsgemeinde in the square, right outside this building. There’s a few more details and a better picture here
After such a great experience, it was really quite hard to leave Trogen. Of course, we wanted to learn more of what became of the Zellwegers and felt that this afternoon was only the start. We’d totally overlooked Trogen’s other claim to fame: The Pestalozzi children’s village, too.
But after such a breathtaking series of discoveries, we were ready for something more familiar. Time to make our way back to St Gallen via Appenzell then.
I’ve described this landscape before as one with a green fitted carpet and the same is true today.
The rolling hills and patches of wild flowers are enhanced by the backdrop of snow mountains. We love it here.
As my hero drives, I’m clicking away, taking so many photographs whilst absorbing the sights and sounds to remember forever.
We were not alone in Appenzell. In fact, it’s hard to imagine there would ever be a time when there wouldn’t be others here, so popular is it.
There’s a good reason though – it’s a small, charming town with beautifully decorated buildings, a great cheese shop and a welcoming atmosphere.
We made a couple of purchases before returning to the brewery car park (same procedure every year ) though I resisted bringing a copy of a favourite German magazine home with me, having seen the €5 price overwritten by CHF10. We stopped in the Migros for a couple of bottles of our favourite Flauder and some other Swiss grocery bits and were soon back in St Gallen, reflecting on a truly magnificent day.
Did I say how happy we are to be here?