Year Abroad: Appenzell

Appenzell is a lovely little corner of Switzerland, virtually untouched by the 21st century. It’s farming country, full of rolling hills and moo-cows and villages made of traditional wooden houses.

In Switzerland, voting is taken seriously and done canton by canton and Appenzell Innerrhoden, one of the two Appenzell half-cantons stills vote in the traditional manner; that is, every eligible person gathers in the appropriate town square and votes by brandishing a short sword in the air, which was traditionally an indication that you were a free man and allowed to bear weapons. This is such a spectacle that it’s televised across Switzerland. Innerrhoden, shamefully for an otherwise forward-thinking country, didn’t allow women to vote until 1991, and then only because two of them went to court over it. 1991! In central Europe! I suppose traditionally, women were not free men with weapons, which is the trouble with trying to maintain traditions without certain upgrades.

Appenzell is a bit of a journey from my adopted home city of Neuchâtel – three and a half hour with a change at Gossau, and Zurich as well if you get the train at 27 past the hour instead of at 1 minute to the hour. I could have sworn you change at St Gallen but there you go, the SBB/CFF website says otherwise. However, my photos from the day suggest that I went to St Gallen on the way back, so maybe I deliberately went via St Gallen so that I could come back via it too. St Gallen is a lovely little city but you can have that another day.

I didn’t do much in Appenzell. It’s not really a town where you do things, unless it’s sampling local cheese. I know it’s not actually Heidi country (that was Graubunden, in the south west and the Swiss hate Heidi!) but it’s still such stereotypical Switzerland. More Swiss than Swiss. And without further ado, here are some pictures of my day out in the heart of Switzerland.

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This was the day when I discovered the art of the selfie. It was my first digital camera.