Earlier this year we left Switzerland after having lived there for five and a half years. Now that some time has passed, I would like to share some of the things I noticed living there. Nature We’ve been to the north, the south, the east and the west of the country, and we have found natural places all over the country that have left us speechless. Ebenalp. Lauterbrunnen.
Last weekend we hiked from Einsiedeln to Brunni as part of Via Jacobi’s stage 5. We did this same hike four years ago, but this time we had sun with us from the beginning. The intense contrast with the previous time reminded me of the impact that changing my perspective about certain things has had in recent times. Another thing that was different this time was that I kept my attention more on the trees, the breeze, the grass, and the sky, and less on the planned destination, which, by the way, we didn’t reach.
Earlier today we went for a walk in nature. I don’t know if it’s because it was the first time in weeks that we go out not to get supplies and not for a run, but we had a fantastic morning. We saw a fire salamander and a slowworm for the first time. We noticed plants that must have been there all the time but that we had never noticed before, like horsetails, yellow archangels, herb Robert, carpet bugle, red clover, guelder rose, field scabious, wintercresses, onobrychis, bird’s-foot trefoil and hawksbeard.
A few days ago we went to Maienfeld to hike near the area that Johanna Spyri used as a setting for her 1881 novel, Heidi. Since I moved to Switzerland I been reminded of Heidi weekly because at work there is a weekly social event whose start gets announced with a broadcast of Heidi’s theme to the whole office. So when I saw that there was a hiking area named after her I talked to Loes and she agreed to go.
On Sunday we escaped the intense rain that was falling over most of Switzerland. This time we tried a new national route, stage 2 of Alpenpanorama Trail, as it passes through the smallest canton of Switzerland, Appenzell. The name means “cell (state) of the abbot (of St. Gallen)” and religion had indeed a strong influence in its history: the canton is divided into two parts, the Protestant one and the Catholic one, and the capital.
Yesterday we almost hiked from Staffelegg to Hauenstein and we almost saw its five passes. Instead, due to an unjustifiably confidence in my prep skills combined with me field testing a new hiking app, we took the wrong turn after getting off the bus and went in the opposite direction. I recently read about the power of visualizations so for this hike I prepared: I visualized where the sun would be during most of the hike, where we would begin and end.
Today’s adventure started in Einsiedeln, in the canton of Schwyz. This time we decided to one stage of the Via Jacobi which is part of “El Camino de Santiago”. The first part of the hike ran through a wide valley outside of Einsiedeln. The weather looked challenging but the forecast promised no rain over the following hours and we are trusting people. View right outside of Eisiedeln.
Yesterday we decided to go hiking. We are thinking about eventually walking long trails like the Via Alpina, the Appalachian Trial and the Pacific Crest Trail but we need to start somewhere closer to what we can do today so we decided to start with Route 84 stage 4 which is a comfortable 16km hike near Lake Zürich. We started the hike in Richterswil, a short train ride away from home.
At around the time we visited Konstanz we also went south, to Bellinzona, literally “war zone”. The city is known for its three castles (UNESCO World Heritage) and is located in the valley of the Ticino River. As you can guess by its name it’s recorded history is mostly battles. At several points in the past it has been independent and it also has belonged to Italy, France and Switzerland. When you see the surrounding valley it’s easy to understand how strategically important it must have been as a safe pass through the Alps.
We recently made a day trip to nearby Konstanz, right on the border with Germany. The city is a well-known shopping destination for Swiss people because of low prices and easy access but the city has more than that. Inhabited since the Stone Age, in the 1400s the town-state asked the Old Swiss Confederacy to become a member but they were weary of large members and they voted against it. It’s also the home of the Council of Constance, where the Church fixed a pesky situation with three people claiming to be the Pope.