Switzerland certainly loves organised paths, and so there was no surprise when on the network map there were trails for hiking, cycling, mountain biking, skating and even canoeing. I only saw a couple of skaters as I headed east along the lake, but that’s still a couple more than I’d seen up to that point. What I did see were incredibly clean and full-featured parks, that and really high prices. A trip to my staple of Aldi revealed prices that were two to three times as high as in Germany.
When I left the lake, and climbed up towards the mountains, I made it to the town of St Gallen. I’ve been buying a flag in each country I visit since Venezuela and this wasn’t an exception. The obscene prices in Switzerland are usually justified by high quality. Unfortunately, this didn’t stretch to their flags, as even though it cost €7, the flag was poorly printed on the polyester. I was originally just visiting St Gallen to buy a flag, so you can imagine my surprise when during my flag search I stumbled across the Abbey of St Gall and the UNESCO logo all over its information boards.
As my goal was to get to Liechtenstein, the easiest route would have been to just follow Lake Konstanz and then go down the Rhine. I avoided that for three reasons. Firstly, mountains are generally much prettier. Secondly, that would have been far too close to riding along the same road for my liking as I doubled back out of Liechtenstein. Thirdly, Appenzeller Land is a quite beautiful area that I’ve been to before and wanted to see again. My dad went to school in the area, and so as kids we got brought to see the area. I found a Warmshowers host in Speicher, the town he had had to walk to every Sunday to go to church, and so my mind was made.
My hosts, Kaspar & Christine, were amazing. I’d mentioned that I’d get there a little early, so we worked out a way of me getting into the cellar and when I got there I found a welcome basket waiting for me with local cider, local beer, fruits and chocolate which I enjoyed while lazed in the sun waiting for them to come home.
My plan had been to spend just the one night with Kaspar & Christine, but they were very proud of their area and with beautiful weather thought that I should go hiking. They mentioned a few options I had for hikes. The one I’d wanted to go up was Säntis, the tallest in the area, but it was still too early in the season for me to go hiking up it in my ninja shoes with a fair amount of snow at the top and some that I’d have to walk across. Thankfully there were plenty of alternatives. We settled on Hoher Kasten. It was about 25km away to get to the start point of the hike, and Kaspar in his kindness even offered to lend me his car. I ended up cycling, not having a driving licence I felt it was probably unwise to practice driving in Switzerland.
The ride over to Hoher Kasten was quite lovely, and definitely superior to how it would have been in a car, with the nearby mountain range with picturesque villages scattered across the vista. The hike up was equally delightful, and from the top there was a beautiful view down the other side where I could see pretty much the whole of Liechtenstein at once, and then by turning my head the glory of Säntis with Sämtisersee sat in front of it.
Leaving Kaspar & Christine’s place it was a gentle climb up and then a speedy drop down to the side of the Rhine river that formed the border with Liechtenstein. The views continued to be glorious, with the rare fortune of being able to have mountain vistas on both side while riding on the flat as I made my way up river.
Liechtenstein on the left, Sämtisersee on the right
Looking down on Liechtenstein