On to Appenzell, a cute farming district near the border of Germany and Liechtenstein. It was a pretty miserable trek hauling our bags uphill on probably the hottest day we've had in Switzerland, so once we got to the farmhouse we were staying at we quickly changed into swimsuits, stashed our bags, and took a walk through the pastures down to a small creek to relax and plan out our short time in Appenzell.
We'd heard about a little restaurant tucked into a cliff-side nearby, Berggasthaur Aescher, so in the evening we took the train to the end of the line and grabbed the last cable car of the day up into the mountains. We shared the car with a group of paragliders who I hope did not speak English since we were acting like giddy children. I mean, it was for good reason - we caught a glimpse of some ponies (!) on the way up... more on the ponies in a second - but still, giggling like children. Once we all got to the top of the mountain, the paragliders got their things situated for a few minutes and then literally RAN OFF THE MOUNTAIN.
We didn't stay and watch them for too long though, because ponies. Not like 'oh look, a horse'. These were the tiniest, most majestic Swiss ponies. We agreed they must pay the ponies to hang around the paths for stupid Americans like us. I took a couple of pictures and realized I wasn't really capturing the true tininess of this pony, so I made Meghan stand near one of them for a size reference. Y'all, she was so scared of that pony. It was adorable.
Once we got our fill of ponies prancing along the mountainside in the evening light, we started the short hike to Aescher. It was a nice little 20-30 minute jaunt, along cliff sides and through a cave. We also silently passed a guy along the way that was awkwardly holding a leaf in the middle of the frame while taking a landscape shot... and he later started following Meghan on instagram. Got a good laugh out of that. At Aescher we settled in, watched some sheep graze below us, and ordered a giant plate of rosti (which is basically hashbrowns, but fancier sounding) with a fried egg on top.
Following the fuel up, we took the 2.5 hour zillion-switchback hike down the mountain as the sun set, which went mostly without incident. At one point I discovered what stinging nettles were. Turns out it's not my favorite plant, but the stinging dies down pretty quickly. Later in the hike (while we were in especially odd moods), a cow started following Meghan. We've already established that ungulates make her uncomfortable, so she kept telling the cow 'Why are you following me?? I DON'T KNOW COW THINGS!' while I laughed behind them.
The following morning on our way out of town we made a stop in St Gallen to visit the Abbey. The main attraction for us was the library, which was fiercely protected. Makes sense, as it has a couple thousand incunabula (printed before 1500) and manuscripts dating back to the 8th-15th centuries. Not only did they not allow photos, we also had to put on fuzzy slippers so we didn't scuff the floor. After wandering around the cathedral and rest of the Abbey complex, we continued on out trip back up into the mountains...