Most of us have seen the pics. The hut, nestled tightly against and under the mountain face. And the lake, reflecting the surrounding mountains, so green in the summer and so white in the winter. And so many of us have gone there, even me. Or, well, close enough.
It’s Appenzell, or more precisely the Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli and the lake Seealpsee, and the mountain Säntis above them. A few weeks back we were skiing close by, in the Ebenalp, when it really hit me. Instagram brought us all there. Me, us and most of the people in the mountain restaurant. Without hashtag, we or the places don’t exist.
Well, Instafamous or not, Appenzell is a very nice region, with nice small ski resorts (pro tip: t-lifts are always a good sign) and very nice local products; Appenzeller beer, cheese and whisky. And whisky trek! So why not to love? And why not go there in summer, when you’ll most likely see my version of the most famous pics too. And get some more (whisky) hiking tips.
Until that, let’s enjoy the food and drinks.
Or go voting. Soon it’s time for a very Swiss tradition in the town of Appenzell, the Landsgemeinde, which is the original form of the famous Swiss direct democracy. On the last Sunday in April the citizens entitled to vote gather to the square, under the open sky, to elect their government and courts, and to decide about laws and financial matters.
These days this form of direct democracy is possible only in the smaller areas though, and yes, Appenzell is one of them. Cheers for democracy!
Ticino’s the sunny side of Switzerland, they said. And after last Sunday I can pass the message on, with empirical proof. Past year, many people and magazine pages have advised, especially during the rainy months of Bernese Oberland, to visit Italy or at least Ticino, as it’s said to be almost always sunny in there. It tempted me, but since it hasn’t rained so much (or even better; it’s been snowing) and there’s been enough of exploring at home in the Jungfrau Region, it took me a while to get myself further. But last Sunday, on my birthday, when it was pouring rain in Interlaken, as it regularly does during these months, which further on didn’t allow any nice hiking or biking or climbing or skiing at home, my road trip wishes were answered. And so I got a ride and the crew to Ticino, with the mission of hiking to the top of Monte San Giorgio and eating some pizza in Italy.
Ticino’s only three hours away from Interlaken, so it’s almost perfect for a day trip and just perfect for a weekend getaway (next time hotel and biking too, please). Not to mention that it’s just an hour drive away from Milan if you’re interested in flying nearby. But luckily we didn’t need to fly this time; all we did was took the car and drove away. After the Gotthard tunnel (of courseI hadgoogle how the story of the fire goes in thatloooongtunnel – btw when did they start offering 4G in road tunnels?!) the rain stopped and the sky turned cloudy but dry. Moreover, the roadside signs turned to Italian; it was like going abroad, even though we weren’t even officially on the Italian side yet.
Finally in Ticino, after the drive and 10min hunt for the parking spot, we hit the trail through this forest towards our destination, the top of Monte San Giorgio (which holds an UNESCO status, btw), in where the greatest birthday surprise was waiting for me: it was sunny, and the views were just breathtaking. The “Sunday walk” kind of hike didn’t really do the job, but the snow-topped Swiss alps in the north, Italy in the south, the lakes, and the green hills of Ticino took my breath away, big time. And when the day ended just a short drive further to the Italian side, with pizza and wine, panna cotta and espresso, I hugged my crew and said that this was definitely one of the best, if not even the best, birthday I’ve ever had. My favourite people, food, drinks and mountains. La grande bellezza. Only thing missing was the sea and gelato, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time when I get the crew to Finale Ligure or Ascona, for even more Italian outdoors fun. Or I might just return to Ticino with more time and my bike, as it was already more than fine in here.
FI: Voihan Pyhä Yrjö (San Giorgio), mikä paikka. Tämä Ticino siis, jonne suuntasimme sunnuntaina juhlistamaan syntymäpäivääni. Interlaken tervehti kyseisenä aamuna sateella, kuten tähän aikaan täällä asiaan kuuluu, ja ainoa kuivalta vaikuttanut kolkka oli säätiedotuksen mukaan Luganon seutu. Syntymäpäivän, ja huonon kotiseudun sään (ei kiipeilyä, ei pyöräilyä, ei vaellusta tai hiihtoa) varjolla sain siis helposti hankittua matkaan autokyydin ja mukavan seuran, sekä idean valloitettavasta huipusta. Ja niin suuntasimme aamulla auton keulan kohti Ticinoa, läpi Gotthardin (surullisen)kuuluisan tunnelin ja sumuisten maisemien.
Vielä Meridessä autolle parkkipaikan löydettyämme ja kohti Monte San Giorgion huippua suuntaavalle polulle astuttuamme taivasta peitti ohut pilviverho, joka ei kuitenkaan haitannut nauttimasta kävelystä läpi vihreän metsän ja ohi viiniköynnösten, heinäsirkkojen sirityksen säestyksellä. Lopulta UNESCO -stauksestakin nauttivan vuoren huipulle päästyämme sain vieläpä ihan parhaan syntymäpäiväyllätyksen taivaan auettua ja aurinkon lämmitäessä lepohetkeen asettuvia matkalaisia. Pakko kai nyt on uskoa kaikkia niitä vakuutuksia, että Ticinossa paistaa aina.
Leppoisan sunnuntaikävelyn jälkeen nälkäisinä ja janoisina päätimme vielä ajaa muutaman ylimääräisen kilometrin Italian puolelle, jossa muutaman neuvonpidon (kiitos italainen seuralainen tulkkauksesta) jälkeen löysimme tiemme erinomaisen antipastin, pizzan, viinin, panna cottan ja espressokupillisten äärelle. Siinä kohtaa myönnän hyvin epäsuomalaiseen tapaan halanneeni seuralaisiani tiukasti, ja todenneeni kyseessä olleen yksi parhaista, ellei paras syntymäpäivä.
Ticino on Interlakenista vain kolmen tunnin ajomatkan päässä (ja Milanosta vain vajaan tunnin) ja vaikka se näin soveltuukin hyvin päiväretkeilyyn, voisin suositella sitä jopa vielä enemmän yhden tai kahden yön reissua alueelle. Itse ajattelin seuravalla kerralla varata mukaan myös pyörän, ja aikaa uimiseen ja gelatolle.
My decision to visit Milan a few weeks back came last minute, so I didn’t really plan or decide what to do before I was there. But what a good last minute decision it was to go there for a few nights, just in the dawn of Milan Fashion Week 2016. I got some great tips from a girl from Milan (soon to be my colleague) and want to share them with you too (see after pictures). Unfortunately this time I didn’t have the time to try all of the tips I was given, but I’m sure I’ll visit the city many times from now on. That lovely it was, and not the “too busy and too expensive” place, as many of my other acquaintances warned me. Brussels trained me well I guess…
And if you have visited Milan or other cool places in Northern Italy, free to share your tips in the comments and ask further questions about mine. I’m happy to answer and also hear what to not miss around here, as Italian weekend getaways are so easy to do from Switzerland. But coming back to Milan, I’d especially like to hear your best hotel tips for Milan. This time the accommodation was my weakest link, so next time I really want to try something better. So if you have any good design/boutique hotel tips from there, they are more than welcome.
Il Mercato del Duomo, Piazza del Duomo *here you also find working and fast free WiFi, and on the second floor, you’ll find a place to work and charge your phone/tablet/laptop. ***** from a digital nomad!
*Edit. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve started to experiment with Instagram stories. While I like to keep my Snapchat at least semi-private (public stories, but only accepting friends I already know in real life, that is) I’m now trying to use Instagram stories to show more of my daily life, less filtered & curated than my basic Instagram feed. Feel free to follow and comment, as there will be more of my travel & daily routines there.