Last weekend's excursion was two days in Sankt Gallen with a side trip to Appenzell. A perfect Swiss weekend: light luggage, short train ride, good food, and Alpine cows. I have lots of photos.
Sankt Gallen is the kind of place I'd never visit from the US but is a great weekend trip when you're nearby. Its big claim to fame is the abbey, a monastery that dates back to 613 AD and has been a seat of knowledge ever since then. The abbey still quietly dominates the city center and the rococo library and the church are the main tourist sites in town. Some amazing carvings in the church. Wood carving is quite a theme in Sankt Gallen, with many many beautifully decorated window boxes and sculptures on buildings in the old town.
Sankt Gallen also gave me hope for Swiss German food. It's still all roast meat, brown sauce, and rösti. But when done well like at zur Alten Post, with friendly service, it's good. And we stumbled into something great at Am Gallusplatz, a wine cellar going back to 1891 with reasonable prices! We had a 1970 Lafite Rothschild that was just lovely. We plan on going back for one night just for dinner (well, wine really). The "good wine at reasonable prices" theme continued with a 2000 Lynch Bages in Appenzell at the Hotel Krone.
Appenzell is interestingly rustic, a collection of villages and houses spread out across the mountain slopes. Buildings are often gaily painted, and life in general seems good. Then again it's a bit backwards; Appenzell only allowed women to vote in 1991. The train and wanderweg system is incredibly efficient. You have to love a place where you can set out at 11am with no specific plan and easily find 90 minutes of trains, an hour hike in the valley, and shopping and lunch.
This last weekend is the closest we've come to acting like we really live in Switzerland. A pleasant weekend trip, not a serious tourist journey. Great way to live.