Okay, so first of all, I have to say that this is one of the most memorable, most favorite places of mine that I’ve visited so far in Switzerland. For me, the Heidiland is a special gem of Switzerland.
Unlike my first stay in Switzerland (nearly 3 years ago) where I had been bouncing all over the country, hitting places like Zermatt, St. Moritz, Luzern, Bern, St. Gallen, and Schaffhausen, my experience in Switzerland this time has been mostly in the canton of Graubünden. This is by far my favorite part of Switzerland. I appreciate it more, partly due to the fact it is where I’ve been staying. I naturally have fallen in love it. It is notably the sunniest area here and has, in my opinion, some of the most gorgeous Alps in the nation. The wilderness is absolutely breathtaking here and one can really experience true Swiss-ness here.
Just a couple of days ago, I was taken to see the Heidiland. It’s not far from where I’m staying and if I walk aways uphill, I have a view of the Heidiland in the distance, nestled right within the Alps. The author Johanna Spyri had spent several summers in the area near Chur as a child, and it here the setting of Heidi takes place.
There is a small little village, Heididorf (Swiss German -‘Heididörfli’) where you can visit her house and a small museum. The house is a bit like a museum in itself. There is also a newly built cabin, Swiss style, that I think serves the purpose of allowing visitors to get a real good idea of how the famous Raclette chesse was made in a typical Swiss home. One must have a ticket to enter into these places, which can be purchased at the souvenir shop – admission for an adult = 13.90 CHF. All the souvenirs are Heidi themed. There is even a place where you can mail your postcards directly from the shop and have a special Heidi logo stamped on your postcards. Pretty cool.
I probably would’ve done this if it hadn’t of been for me leaving my wallet behind. I did, however, buy 3 postcards… mainly to just remember the place and to say I bought something there. My friend had to leave to do some shopping, but assured me it was an easy walk back home and showed me the way by drawing a map on the back of a postcard. And, she assured me, if too far, just to call and she’ll pick me from wherever I’m at. Sounded good to me. I hadn’t wanted to be rushed if I could help it, but the idea of spending the day in the Heidiland taking my sweet time with everything sounded perfect. I’m real slow when it comes to these kinds of things… museums, history, nature… I just really like to soak everything in.
I first visited the small little goats “Geissen”that were kept right outside behind a wooden fence. One was drinking water from a trough. He looked so cute and with the Alps in the background behind him, the scene was picturesque.
I then made my way up to Heidi’s House “Heidishaus” where I got to see how she lived. For me, it really made the Heidi story come to life. Seeing the kitchen, her little bedroom and tiny window where she could peek out and see the Alps, her grandfather’s tools and the dining room table, where a couple of figures were set up to represent both Heidi and Peter. Heidi was reading from a small German Bible from the book of Philippians. The house was small and humble, yet it felt entirely cozy and snug. If I had been Heidi, I should have been very happy to live there.
A view from Heidi’s window
The journey up to Heidi’s Alp (Heidialp oder Heidi Hütte) was only 2 hours round trip according to the sign nearby. I didn’t think it too bad and thus began my little adventure retracing the path where Heidi, Peter and even Clara (with Heidi’s help) would have gone. There had been a total of 12 signs along the path that were marking specifics area, and would quote little bits of the story. Each sign was in German and English. This really brought the story to life and I couldn’t help but imagine it were really true.
the start of my walk
The walk went uphill in a zigzag manner and I must admit it was well over 2 hours round trip. It took me 2 and half to nearly 3 hours to reach the top. Quite a workout to say the least! But oh, the woods were so peaceful, the sun so warm… I had taken off my jacket to feel more comfortable. Flowers were popping up everywhere and I could hear the birds singing in the trees. And I usually always had a wonderful view of the mountains.
time for a break! – pausing to catch my breath
up the path we go!
It was very tiresome a bit. I wasn’t exactly wearing any hiking shoes and my outfit was really one I’d wear into town.
But I didn’t really care.
I passed the place where Peter would give his goats a drink. A small bench (Bänkli) where Heidi and her grandfather would sit on the way back down to the village..a place where they could pause and catch their breath. I passed Heidi’s tree house and the place where Clara’s chair had been broken when Peter pushed it down the hill.
And finally, at the top, it was a wonderful view to behold. I was breathless.
For me, I felt like I had stepped into a storybook that came to life. I was up in the Alps themselves and as far as the eye could see lay the mountains. I walked on about another 5 minutes and reached Heidi’s Alp Summer home only to find that it was, unfortunately, not exactly open to the public. You couldn’t go in for it was private residence. Disappointing. But I asked the lady if she could at least make my picture outside of it.
I left the house and walked a little ways back down and simply sat in the grass to take in the view and to rest. There was thankfully a water trough nearby (all the way up there!) and I was able to refill my water bottle. I kept looking around and imaging Heidi and Peter with the goats running around, laughing, and goats nibbling the grass, bleating or frolicking about. I could easily picture a couple of children running about, a cluster or small little goats and another girl in a wheelchair off the side, watching the others play.
Finally made it to the top!
How can I further describe the beauty that had surrounded me? What words should I use? It is something that you must experience yourself.
The Heidiland for me is just the heart of Switzerland. The Heidi story is such a beloved one by people from all over the world and it represents Switzerland. (I would love to watch the new movie that came out, as well as the old one – both are in Swiss German and for me it makes it more real and authentic).
I soon had to leave and head back down, this time cutting through the various little paths that I had seen on the way up. I avoided these then because I wanted to read each of the signs that were along the trail, but on the way down, I took the little trails and believe me – that saved me a lot of time! I was in the next little village reaching the Rathaus in right under an hour’s time. So to clarify things once again – the Heidi Adventure is wonderful, but if you want to go, set aside a whole day for it. Especially if you’re like me and want to take your time enjoying everything. It’ll take 3 hours or so depending on how fast you walk or if you’re used to hiking. I’m not, even though I love it. But if you don’t care about reading the signs along the path and simply want to reach the top (Heidi’s Alp) take the little trails you see. All lead up to the Alp and you’ll save yourself some time.
My feet, by the way, were SO SORE by the end of the day. I could feel new blisters coming. But, as I said, completely worth it.
I would do it again.
Next time, I may take a bike – there were other people along the paths – joggers, hikers, and few cyclists… anything’s possible!
(Actually, I take that back. I wouldn’t really recommend a skateboard. Just sayin’)
Tschau for now,