Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our own walking tour of St. Gallen

DH had a tentative plan to get on a train (again) and head to Appenzellerland, an area not far from here famous for cowbells and yodelling.  The weather was threatening so we decided to stay in town and fully explore St. Gallen.  I think we've walked 10 miles today and seen every street in the old city, some several times.

We started the day with a mishap.  The shower in the hotel does not have a lip on it -- the entire bathroom is tiled on one level, with the floor tilted slightly to the shower drain.  I managed to get so much water over the bathroom floor that it started to seep into the bedroom!  DH had to give me a lesson in European showers ....

The Hotel Dom offers a nice breakfast.  Coffee was freshly made for us and served in individual pots with warmed milk in individual creamers.  What service!  The coffee was the best I have had in a long time - sorry, Starbucks.  The Hotel Dom is part of an association called "forderraum," an institution which supports handicapped people.  The hotel provides about 50 jobs under this program affording the opportunity to work according to their capabilities in a meaningful way.  Everyone in the hotel has been extremely service oriented, friendly, and professional.  Each room is named after the artwork placed in the room done by an employee, either present or past.  Our room is the "Benjamin Bonjour Menschen" room.  Here is Benjamin's drawing entitled "Menschen."

Things are expensive in Switzerland!  We hit an ATM this morning for a $100 withdrawal.  We got the $100 - in one bill!  That's a good indication that you can spend $100 pretty easily.

Our first visit after breakfast was to the Textile Museum.  St. Gallen is well known for its textile industry and especially lacemaking.  I was thrilled by the displays of exquisite antique lace from all over the world.  One of the gowns on display was worn by Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III.  Unfortunately, you are not permitted to take pictures in the museum - so please click on the link above to see a few.  There is a case in one room with multiple drawers that you can pull out (similar to drawers holding maps in many museums).  Each drawer revealed a beautiful display of hand embroidery, one more gorgeous than the next.  The tiny, tiny stitches on fine batiste took my breath away.  The nicest part of the museum was that DH enjoyed it, too!

Oma Bratwurst and Fries - Yum!
For lunch, we had a local specialty, an Olma bratwurst.  They serve it in a bag and also give you a large slice of bread.  The trick is to take a bite of the bratwurst, then a chunk of bread.  No mustard allowed!  People walk along the streets while eating their lunch in this fashion.

DH is having a blast using his high school German.  He's doing quite well, especially since buying an English/German dictionary a few days ago.

There are four or five stores in St. Gallen specializing in musical instruments.  We have asked about this, but the residents don't think this is odd.  I don't know how far we would have to go to find as many within walking distance of one another.  In the afternoon, we browsed in one such store with six stories!  The pianos are on the bottom floor, including a beautiful Steinway grand with a price tag of $116,000.  I resisted the urge to play chopsticks.

Six stories - two underground!
Dinner was a picnic in the room:  delicious cheeses from a small shop on the next street, bread from the bäckerie around the corner, wine from the grocery store that we stumbled upon (Coop), and a hunk of Swiss chocolate.  Is this heaven?

Bernina Day tomorrow.  Now that must be heaven ....

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