Where We Be
Appenzell, Switzerland
We packed a lot of fun into one sunny day in
Appenzell before the weather turned. Using our
"Appenzeller Card" (free with a stay of 3 nights)
gave us lots of great freebies – recommended.
We started by taking a free aerial cable ride to
the top of a nearby mountain called the Ebenalp
for great views back down onto Appenzell. This
whole region is like the picture we hold in our
mind's eye of Heidi's Switzerland, with its green
rolling hills, cows munching on fresh grass, and
Swiss chalets. After a fun hike and memorable
outdoor dining experience in the Ebenalp, we
boarded a local train for Jakobsbad, which is
quite the activity center, full of paragliders and
funseekers. We began with two free rides on
the Jakobsbad Toboggan Run (fun!), then rode
on the Jakobsbad-Kronberg Cable Car for more
great views. Finally, near sunset, we walked
towards home along “The Barefoot Path,” or
“Barfussweg,” a grassy 5 km trail specifically
designed to be enjoyed in your bare feet.
The Appenzell region is one of the most traditional in all of Switzerland.
It feels like "Heidi's Switzerland," with its green rolling hills and quaint villages.
We arrived in Jakobsbad, which looks utterly peaceful but actually offers some pretty cool stuff to do
We had an hour’s wait for the next train, so we passed the time by putting our feet in the (cold!) river just behind the station
Then it was back down by cable car and on to our next adventure
We had traditional Swiss rosti (like hash browns) and brats on the lovely patio, which offers a spectacular view
We braked a lot on our first run down, but on our second run, after asking if we could come off the track and being told no, we accelerated
the whole way down. Whew! It was scary at times. Robin cursed up a storm at me from her front-row seat, especially when we screeched around
hairpin turns and it felt like we might be thrown off. It made for an exhilarating ride – one we’ll definitely remember! We were both all smiles by the end.
This was our view from the train as we approached Appenzell. if you want towering mountains and
dramatic scenery, go to the Jungfrau region (or Zermatt) -- Appenzell is more laid-back and pastoral.
Ebenalp is perfect for paragliders
Halfway through our hike we came upon this amazing restaurant built into the side of a cliff called Gasthaus Aescher -- completely irresistible!
We took a pleasant hour-long walk that made a loop starting and ending at the Ebenalp – a broad high plateau filled with flowers
Appenzell is an appealing town steeped in tradition. It takes some effort to get to this region so it doesn't feel over-touristed.
Next up was a free cable car ride (courtesy of our Appenzeller card) on the Jakobsbad-Kronberg Cable Car. Normally
this would have cost 28 francs each at full price! At the top we enjoyed a short loop hike offering more great views.
We started our busy day with a gondola ride to the top of the Ebenalp. Looking down, we could see tractors busy mowing hay in the fields.
Oh happy day! Hiking in sunny Switzerland!
I'd say these folks are well-prepared for the winter!
We stayed at Lydia Haus B&B, about a ten-minute walk from the main Appenzell train station. From the back patio we had this pleasant view.
It’s part of the experience to enjoy the tactile feel of your bare feet against the soft grass (and occasionally hard pebbles and concrete!)
“The Barefoot Path,” or “Barfussweg” in German, is a grassy trail designed to be walked in your bare feet. These signs pointed the way.
We walked barefoot all the way from Jakobsbad to beautiful Gonten (above)
It was a lovely time of day for a walk, around 6 pm, and the views of fields and farmland in all directions were something
What a mess! Thankfully there was a hose at the far end. I must admit, feeling the thick squishy mud between my toes was an unforgettable experience!
Near Gontenbad I trudged through a long and deep trough of mud -- put there on purpose as part of the barefoot "tactile" experience!
We were having such fun we decided to continue walking along the path to the next town (but with shoes on), where we finally caught the train home
We got two free runs on the Jakobsbad Toboggan Run courtesy of our Appenzeller card (normally 9 francs per ride). The run is on a
railed track and is kind of like taking your own personal rollercoaster. The two of us sat in a single yellow “car” and were towed up a long track.
At the top the tow let go and we glided on the rails down the track. If we pushed forward on a stick we accelerated and if we pulled back we braked.