A few days ago we went to Maienfeld to hike near the area that Johanna Spyri used as a setting for her 1881 novel, Heidi. Since I moved to Switzerland I been reminded of Heidi weekly because at work there is a weekly social event whose start gets announced with a broadcast of Heidi’s theme to the whole office. So when I saw that there was a hiking area named after her I talked to Loes and she agreed to go.
Maienfeld, with almost 3,000 inhabitants, falls in the “small and cute village” category. Most windows have hearts in them, you can see fountains with clear fresh water and basins made of light blue mosaics, when you’re on the street you see amazing views of the surrounding mountains in all directions and you easily see toy tractors next to expensive Porsches.
After we got on the hiking trail and as we were leaving the village we passed next to large vineyards peppered with small medieval walls and towers. It was about 8.30am so the light was soft and surreal.
During the easy hike up we saw all sorts of Heidi-themed elements: a Heidi Village, a Heidi Farm with goats and a running chicken, wooden statues of Heidi characters, Peter’s stable, signposts with excerpts from the novel and description of the surroundings, you get the picture. Unlike other themed places we’ve been to these theme elements had great taste and weren’t commercialized at all.
Besides the beautiful view of the Chur Rhein valley and the realization that this was obviously a grasshopper-dominated area, we also met several Japanese people (I like baffling them by greeting them in Japanese with the few bits that I still remember) and an Oak plantation sponsored by people from the area. As I’ve come to expect, there was a 400 years old tree which made me realize how much older the mountains are and consequently how insignificant the length of human life is compared to them…
If I had to summarize this hike I would call it “Love of nature, vineyards and brown grasshoppers”.