On our second day in Switzerland we visited the canton (or province) of Appenzell where my mom's grandparents came from. The quaint region is know for it's rolling hills, towering alps, and rural traditions. Cattle in the area are brought into the alps each spring to graze for the summer and unfortunately we missed their ceremonial decent back to their farms by just one day. The canton is extremely unique, with it's own style of Appenzeller clothing, homes, music, pastries, cheese, beer, bitters, and even trains.
The drive was breathtaking once again. After a summer full of rain and sunshine, the hillsides were still incredibly green in early September. We started the morning with a gondola ride up Ebenalp, a mountain complete with caves, both a chapel and a restaurant built into the mountain, and spectacular views. Daniel leads us around the trails showing off the land of our shared ancestors.
Following this we drove to the town of Appenzell for lunch. I chose macaroni loaded with Appenzeller Cheese along with a piece of local sausage and an Appenzeller Beer for good measure. My mouth is watering just thinking about the meal.
About 70 years ago my grandmother travelled to Appenzell to live with her cousin (Daniel's mother) for a few months. She always spoke so fondly of her time here and told stories of dances with the girls, adventures through the hillsides, and once riding her bike into a young man in town to get his attention (which worked out surprisingly well for her, I might add). After my first trip to this town back in 2011 I was able to show my grandmother my photographs and she pointed out the house she stayed at, which still has her maiden name, Klarer, hanging over the door, while reminiscing about the happenings that took place inside. That same trip I was able to meet Daniel's mother, and though I needed a translator to understand her words, she reminded me fondly of my own grandma. Later in this trip Daniel found photographs of his mother and her Canadian cousin which were such a blessing to look through. One of my favourites was of the two of them along with a group of girls dressed up as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for some type of party. The more I learn about her time in Switzerland as a young woman the more I realize I have in common with my grandmother.
After lunch we strolled around town, stopping in at the shop under grandma's old home and visiting the church she would have attended. It was such a special day and I know my mom only wished that her mom could have been there to enjoy it with us.
We had a rainy drive home and were welcomed by more Swiss relatives and an incredible meal prepared by Claudia, Daniel's wife. The evening was full of so much joy, sharing stories in broken English, and complete with an abundance of laughter. I'm sure we had a couple on-lookers from heaven smiling along with us.
Have a look through some of the photographs I took below and then check out this video on the Appenzell Tourism website for a spectacular aerial view of the region. At 0:54 you can see the town of Appenzell and at 5:30 it shows off Ebenalp, where we hiked.