Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, France and Switzerland: Only a soaring eagle can see all six countries at once. Except for those of us who take the cable car to the top of Mt. Säntis – a veritable eagle's nest.
We arrive in style with a vintage trailer from Retro Rolling Rosita
Ever since moving to Switzerland, we have treasured the Alpstein region around Appenzell. In fact, we have visited during every seasons – be it for traditional cattle drives or folk music festivals, to go snowshoeing on the Kronberg or hike to Seealpsee. Thanks to the proximity to Zürich, the Alpstein is our fave place to feel the more stereotypical vibes of Switzerland.
This time around, we decide to do something we have never done before by visiting Mt. Säntis in a vintage trailer. Mr. Gerold Huber from Retro Rolling Rosita is the wizard behind an ever-growing fleet of now sixteen retro trailers. Located in Wittenbach just outside of St. Gallen, Huber has made it a business to gently restore trailers featuring designs from the 1930's.
Our eyes are locked on "Snow Flake", a blue Polka dot trailer which is towed by a convertible Smart car. And so, on a beautiful spring morning, we unleash our little circus caravan and we take off. With the top down we cruise from our home near Zürich across the Ricken Pass and Wattwil to the base of Mt. Säntis.
The Appenzell region has those distinct rolling hills covered in the greenest of grass. The landscape is dotted with picturesque farms, herds of cows and white goats. The church bells are ringing in those small towns along the way. And not uncommon for Switzerland are the many tractors and mopeds that come our way and wave at us.
In Switzerland, beauty starts right outside the front door
Once at Schwägalp, we park our Smart and trailer in a free spot and transfer to the nearby cable car. The ride to the top of Mt. Säntis at 2500 meters above sea takes all but ten minutes. Compared to 80 years ago when the cable car first took off with 35 people at a time, there is much more capacity these days. Each of the two cabins can hold 85 passengers, keeping the lines short even on busy weekends.
The sweeping vistas from the visitor terrace are breathtaking. We can see a mountain panorama stretching from the snow covered Churfirsten all the way to the Austrian Alps. Below our viewpoint, we even spot a group of ibexes who carefully cross a snowfield on the lookout for food.
A typical Appenzell brunch on Mt. Säntis
Speaking of which: Fortunately, we do not have to cross a snowfield to reach the brunch buffet. The Appenzell Sunday Brunch is hyped up to offer delicious local foods – both hot and cold, sweet and savory meals. It takes place every Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM.
At 10:45 AM, we appear to be among the latecomers. Inside the restaurant, the aptly named Kapelle Alpstein from Appenzell is performing live folk music. There is the Hackbrett strings, a piano, a base and an accordion. To the amusement of the munching audience, they even tell a typical Appenzell joke between two songs. I would be hard pressed to explain it here because their Swiss German dialect was rather strong...
The buffet has all the Swiss food we could have wished for: Sunday braided Zopf, homemade jellies, local cheese, a salad bar and even savory dishes like sausages and Rösti.
Shortly before noon, a surprise: there is a dessert buffet, too! How to resist those crunchy Merengues, soft puddings or miniature pastries? As not to regret the ensuing choices, we decide to go for a walk on the mountaintop. Our seats are reserved for the duration of the brunch, so we need not worry leaving them unattended. We are told to take our time outdoors and come back anytime for a cup of coffee or a dessert.
We venture up and down stairs towards the backside the mountain top. There is another restaurant, Berggasthaus Alter Säntis, with a splendid view of Seealpsee down below. There is still too much snow for a hike to be considered safe, but the alpine flowers tease us to return in July or August. Why not combine a hike with a full moon experience at the top of Mt. Säntis? We shall see!
Checking in at the Weidwaldwellness Spa at Schwägalp
Once back at Schwägalp, we rest in our trailer for a moment, reliving the morning’s highlights. This miniature home on wheels would be perfect to spend a weekend by the lake. But here at the foot of Mt. Säntis, there is a more comfortable place to sleep.
Hotel Säntis is attached to the cable car station. It has only recently opened and is considered a four-star superior hotel. With the way the hotel is situated, half of the 70 rooms face the mountain. The other half is towards the backside where an untouched forest begins. What a tough room choice!
This time around, we will not be staying here overnight. Instead, we purchase a day’s admission to the in-house spa. Weidwaldwellness is a veritable oasis – perfect to be ringing out a day of activities.
There is an indoor Jacuzzi with killer views of Mt. Säntis, a steam bath, various showers and two kinds of saunas. Our favorite sauna at Weidwaldwellness looks like a farmer’s den as it was built using antique, sun burned wood. It smells too good in there, and we do not want to leave given the open views into the forest.
I do manage to convince Mamiko to try the outdoor barefoot trail, though. She regrets it as she is shouting “ouch!” with every step. But it feels amazing to be in touch with nature. The birds are tweeting and the trees are dancing in the breeze. And there it is: Mt. Säntis in all its glory.
What we are trying to say is...
What are you waiting for? Reserve your own vintage trailer, including a Smart car, and tell Gerold we said "hi." Ride to Schwägalp and park it there for the day. Meanwhile, board the impressive cable car to the top and treat yourselves to a Sunday brunch. After indulging in the dessert buffet, head back down and end the day at the spa...
More information: MitStilzumZiel.ch
(This article was originally published in German as part of the campaign Mit Stil zum Ziel.)