Switzerland 06-05: Appenzell/St Gallen

I went to the station last night to check train times and planned to get the 9.24 to St Gallen, which I did. I was quite early because I wanted to get food before I went and I managed to spot the TGV heading for Paris, so while I was waiting, I sat on platform 2 and watched it go, before I got my train from platform 5.
Just under two hours later I was waiting in Zurich Hauptbahnhof and another hour later, I was at St Gallen. Last time I was here, on my way to Bregenz, it was freezing cold and all I wanted to do was get on the next train out of there, but this time it wasn’t just not freezing, it was actually hot. I went into the kiosk at the far end of the station, wandered out, went to the other end of the station, bought my ticket and got on the Appenzell train. I opened my bag and realised that something was missing. My jumper. I looked over at the ticket machine. It wasn’t there, and the last place I remembered having it was when I put it down in the kiosk. I leapt off that train and ran back to the shop, where I had to try to make a poor German-speaking girl understand that I had left my jumper there and had she seen it, when her English wasn’t very good and my German non-existant. But she understood and yes, they had found it. I reclaimed it, tied it around me and went back to platform thirteen very slowly, because my train had already left, within seconds of my jumping off it. I looked at the timetables, realised that the ones inside were accurate whereas the one outside was out of date and about fifteen minutes wrong, then wandered back and got on the next train.
It was fun. It was a little red train which made its way up out of St Gallen and then across green fields and hills, past chalets and along the edge of the road down into Appenzell.

It was as picture-perfect as I’d imagined. There wasn’t a lot there, just a very pretty village with some mountains in the background and some shops which sold anything vaguely Alpine that you could imagine, so I wandered around for a while, then went back to St Gallen on a little red train.

I looked at the town map and found the cathedral. It seemed no buses went anywhere near it. I decided where I wanted to go, and began to walk. At one point I caught a glimpse of a tower and so I followed that. I found myself wandering through the pedestrian shopping streets, all decorated buildings and winding roads and then out the other side, into nothing. I looked around. I looked up. I looked around the bend in the road. The guidebooks said that the twin towers of the cathedral were visible from practically anywhere in the city, so how could the thing be hiding from me?
I have no idea how I managed to find it, but I did. There was a handy map, so I could see how to get into the various buildings. I went into the cathedral. It was large and white, with gold and mint-green decorations and a painted ceiling. I took photos, as did everyone else in there. It was strange, I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a bright cathedral. Usually, they’re a bit darker and bare stone, not painted gleaming white. It was very pretty though.

I went through the cathedral and out the other side, supposedly into the enclosed Klosterhof, although I’m not sure I managed that. But I did manage to find the Stiftsbibliotek, which was the reason I went there in the first place. I went into the library and after taking a wrong turning by following a woman showing people to the Musiksalle, I found the library hidden away upstairs with a very odd view over the abbey courtyard which nowadays is a basketball/football pitch.

I went to the door and peered inside, wondering where all the slippers were, as they were supposed to be right in front of the door. Then I spotted them. They were hiding away behind me and I’d walked straight past them. I put a pair on and went in under the ψYXHΣ IATPEION sign. The slippers were far too big and I could hardly walk in them, so I went back out and put on another pair. Of course, they were all the same size – enormous. I went back in and had a proper look.
No photos are allowed inside, presumably so they can sell postcards to every single person who goes in. It’s an incredible sight though. I’ve seen a picture of it before and because of the angle of the photo and the paintings on the ceiling, it made it look very cave-like. In actual fact, it’s about a quarter of the size I thought it would be and everything is shiny brown wood, like walnut. The books are enormous and very old and it’s just spectacular. I went back out and bought some postcards and as I did, I spotted a notice on the counter about adult and child prices and year long tickets and it dawned on me that maybe you were supposed to pay to go in. I went outside and sat on the grass in front of the cathedral as so many people were doing and looked in the guide book. Yes, I was supposed to have paid CHF7 to go in there. Never mind. I lay on my back and took photos of the cathedral from below. It was the first time I’ve ever gone on a day trip and just sat on the grass and done nothing. Of course, I got bored with that fairly quickly, so I walked back towards the station and took photos of some of the bears along the way.

I got on my train and sat on there for the two and a half hour journey back to Neuchatel, no changes, and took photos of myself all the way back.

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