Jul 1, 2018 - 3:37 PM
I stayed in Appenzell for two nights in late May as part of my 3-week Interrail trip concentrating on some of the quieter tourist spots as well as the honey-pots, and this little town was one of my favourites.
The countryside is stunningly beautiful and varies from the rugged mountain peaks around Wasserauen (15 minutes down the branch line from Appenzell) to rolling hills, superb green rural landscapes and small towns and villages where time often seems to have stood still - certainly in the number of old timber houses with their distinctive large square windows and painted walls.
Appenzell is a curiosity in that it is at the centre of not one tiny canton, but two - Appenzell Innerrhoden and Ausserrhoden, though much of the population commutes into St Gallen (another canton) by the astoundingly good rail network. It takes 30 or 40 minutes to get to major rail junctions at Gossau, Herisau and St Gallen; the trains generally run every half hour (Sunday no exception) and all around there is evidence of huge investment in the rail infrastructure - a new tunnel (the Swiss love new tunnels) taking shape between St Gallen and Gais to cut out a section of rack railway.
Appenzell town has a charming market square, with excellent cafés, restaurants, bars and - I can promise - ice cream shop. I stayed in a wonderful airbnb, a time capsule of ancient creaking woodwork in the market place bookshop, and for anyone with concerns about airbnb, this stopover (like my other three in Switzerland) was perfect.Everything is tidy and clean, and the shopkeepers polite and cheerful.
A particular treat on my Interrail ticket was taking the little train a few miles east from Gais to Altstätten. This snakes along the plateau high above the Rhine before plunging over the side on a very steep rack and pinion line. I hadn't realised that the Appenzell Railway Company laid on an open carriage on some of their trips. Attached to the front of the train (with another truck for bikes), the extra vehicles offered fabulous views of the descent to Altstätten, with the Austrian and Liechtenstein mountains forming a backdrop. The treat turned out to be free with my Interrail pass. Also free for holders, I was told by the Railway Company's helpful Customer Department, is the bus that plies between the two stations in Altstätten.
My photo shows the train's approach to lovely Appenzell from the Herisau direction.
Last modified on Jul 1, 2018 - 3:57 PM by JohnYorks
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