Our gondola did not plummet to the earth and so with my worst fears unrealized, we got off the gondola and were rewarded with a fabulous view over Appenzell’s picturesque valley.
We walked over some very uneven mixed asphalt/stone/steel bar path, so we could barely take our eyes off our feet for fear of falling. To the Swiss, this was probably a bonus feature. To the rest of us, it was disconcerting.
After a short steep walk we arrived at the massive mouth of a cave that spiraled down into the mountain. Clinging onto the railing (the trail is wet, steep and poorly lit), we arrived at the hermit’s cabin made of sturdy timbers with rough cobblestone floors. It was a meditative place, but not for long. I opened a door to get outside and the door made such a grinding screech that a bunch of Swiss leapt up in terror that the giant bear skeleton (on display inside the cabin) had come to life. At least, that is what they told me.
It’s possible the door was not “meant” to be opened and it was the first time it was set ajar in maybe … I don’t know, a couple of years, but there were no posted signs reading “verboten,” so I just shrugged and left the Swiss to perform CPR on one another.
We resumed the trail walk, which was now just a narrow goat path on the mountainside, and came upon a second cave, the church (Wilderkirsche) where a wedding was underway. We captured a wonderful moment when a small a capella choir gathered and started singing – the stone acoustics sending their crisp voices out over the valley below. It was lovely, although I’m not sure the wedding couple was so thrilled to see us.
We then walked a narrower path to Ebenalp guest house, which is built underneath a walloping rock overhang, and does not look like the kind of place anyone would want to be sleeping in should an earthquake start up.
Half of the patio tables were soaking wet from ground water dripping from the overhang, but we managed to squeeze in with a friendly rugged crowd of hikers, one of whom may have mistaken me for someone else when I said, “Why helloooo Sweetheart,” but then relaxed when he saw I was talking to his white German Shepherd who was sprawled out between the crowded tables.
I felt it best to say something endearing to the dog as I would have to step over him to get to one of the few dry empty seats left on the patio. I wanted him to understand that we could be friends. He did, and let us pass without sinking his massive jaws into our shins. What a relief.
This post is already too long, but I will add that Dave ordered soup, which came with two hotdogs in it. He gave the soup the thumb’s down – it was thin, watery and not very flavorful.
But this was all last weekend – today we are in France’s Franche-Comte region checking out some elaborate stone architecture the Spanish built here when they were in charge of the place – yes, the Spanish messed up France. The more we learn about Europe’s small places, the more we realize how its national borders have wiggled around under the pressure of conquest…suggesting that medieval Europe was not too far removed from modern-day Palestine/Israel’s border argument. More about France later. In the meantime, here are some remaining shots of Appenzellerland.