Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Pre-Convention 2015 Part 4: St. Gallen

    ​​One thing I never expected of Switzerland is the hot and humid weather. There is no air-con in the trains and no air-con in the shops, not even in my hotel room. The weather only starts to cool around 7 or 8 in the evening.

    Day 1 in St. Gallen was spent settling in. After a hearty dinner at the Restaurant Zum Goldenen Schafli (Golden Lamb). We didn't realize the significance of this place. The Goldenen Schafli had been the butchers' guild house. The first floor and mezzanine date back to the 1400s. Besides being so rustic, the food was excellent (the dark chocolate mousse is a must-try).
    We decided to stroll around town after that hearty meal. To our delight, the whole town seemed to be void of tourists. We could even lounge on the soft grass and enjoy the cool evening breeze in the main cathedral square.
Picture doesn't do it justice.
     Day 2 was spent exploring the town. Wanting to beat the expected hordes of tourists, we started early at the Cathedral. We later realised that our fears were unfounded. The old town of St. Gallen stayed tourist free the entire day. Except for the twin bell towers, the facade was nothing to shout about. It is only when you enter this sacred monument that you'll come face to face with the best that the baroque can offer. The building's opulent paintings and sculptures are a blend of rococo and classicism (known as "Lake Constance Baroque"). The works of Southern German masters shout out from the ceilings of every rotunda. It makes one want to join in the chorus, "Glory to God in the highest!"

    As there was still some time before the famed library opened, we made our way up Moosbruggstrasse and came across an old fernicular (Mühleggbahn) station at the end of the Mülenen Gorge. As the story goes, it is here that Saint Gallus fell into a thornbush and took it as a sign from God to settle down. The town of St. Gallen was thus founded. There's currently an art movement around the gorge which connects the history of St Gallus to modern day St. Gallen. We then carried on and entered the abbey precinct again by the Karlstor gate (name after archbishop Karl Borromaus of Milan who was the first to pass through it).
The Karlstor Gate
    The abbey library of St. Gallen is one of the oldest in the world and is arguably the most beautiful. No words can do it justice. If you're a book-lover, this is one place you'll want on your bucket-list. It contains over 170,000 books, some of which are over a thousand years old. It's a pity we couldn't take any photos though.
Gourmet chocolates anyone?
Gemperli veal sausages - a must have. Even the local queue up for it.
     The rest of the day was spent walking through the streets of this UNESCO heritage old town and admiring the architecture. Some of the buildings date back to the 16th Century. Whereas others are prime examples of the baroque and art nouveau movements. Beautifully carved oriel windows also abound in this town and can be admired as we walked through the streets.
Interesting 16th Century houses.
Intricately carved Oriel windows are set slightly to the side above the
doorway to enable people above to see who is at the door.
     The whole old town area is not very big. It only takes a few hours to see everything's that's worth seeing. We were fortunate that the sky only turned grey at the end of our exploration. Soon it started to rain and the temperature plunged.
It's not all middle ages. Check out my Porsche.
    We ended our visit to St. Gallen by dining in at the Alte Post restaurant. The wifey claims that it is the oldest in the town but my research yielded no such information. Nevertheless, it deserves mention. The food adventurer in me decided to take a risk and try something different. I ordered veal liver. The liver was chopped into small pieces, fried and served on crispy rosti. It tasted like the pork liver we had back home, worth a try if you're into it. Desert was sour cream ice-cream. It wasn't too bad, but I probably won't have it again.
Veal liver and rosti. I'll have this again any day. Yum yum!
    To conclude, St. Gallen is a slow-paced town, perfect for having a few relaxing days in if you prefer a town environment to the mountains. All the sights can be experienced within a day. For the more adventurous and impatient, a day-trip here would be sufficient.

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