Heimiswil Journal

Reflections of our stay in Heimiswil. September 10–13 (Friday–Monday)

The famous 19th-century Swiss novelist Jeremias Gotthelf (Albert Bitzius) mentions Heimiswil (Heimiswyl) four times in his writings. In "Elsi die seltsame Magd" Gotthelf begins this 1843 story with a praiseworthy description of Heimiswil. Gotthelf describes the water in this Emmental valley as "herrlich" (splendid), and the houses that adorn the valley as "schön und zierlich" (beautiful and charming). As for the famous Emmental-style farm houses, in the Heimiswil valley these are "zahlreich und ausgezeichnet" (numerous and excellent).

Cathy succinctly concurred with Gotthelf when she wrote in her journal that this part of the Emmental "is possibly the best place on earth" :)

Gary: The Spycher Lodge

We arrived at the final accommodation of our trip until we return to Zurich for our flight home next week. We are at the Spycher Lodge in the village of Heimiswil, in the lower Emmental. When booking places to stay, I thought I saved the best for last. And I definitely did. This lodge is amazing. Quite often, advertising pics and videos show only the best angles of places to stay. Here, the real experience is even better than the advertising!

I learned from the owner that it has been open for only a year, and that we are the first guests from an English-speaking country. We keep finding really cool features here! The Lodge has a maximum occupancy of 2, so couples who come here have the whole cabin to themselves. These spychers are mostly very old storage sheds found all over rural areas.

The tech inside is state of the art - strong Wi-Fi signal, nice lighting options, temp control with thermostat or open windows, skylight upstairs over the bed, and so on. And the new or refinished old wood is beautiful. The whole space is spotlessly clean.

There are at least 4 different places around the cabin to sit, read, eat, relax. If one place is too sunny, or windy, or wet from rain, you can find another place that’s shady or still or dry. The lodge is on the property of the owners, but the vegetation around it blocks the view between their house and the lodge. There is a BBQ too.

Since the bedroom is upstairs and the kitchen/eating area is down, AND the stairs are not a bit creaky, when I wake up early I can quietly come downstairs and not disturb Cathy’s sleep. I's 5:20 am and I've been awake for a while :)

It's very quiet here on a narrow country road about 1 km from the village center. Except for the couple cows across the road who are starting to moo and softly sound their bells, which most of the cows we have seen in Switzerland wear.

Oh, and then there is the church bell, that rings every hour (and I think maybe also on the quarter-hour) throughout the night. But it isn't at all annoying, rather pleasant.

Cathy: The Afternoon Walk

We decided to explore the road from the Spycher Lodge heading away from town. For the first time I got a glimpse of Anina's house. It is a beautiful old Swiss farmhouse, the kind with the slanted portion leading up the side of the house, which I have assumed was for the tractors to access the hay storage area. The road led to pastures, fields of corn, houses old and newer, outbuildings and a gurgling brook. The climb was mild but steady. We saw some beautiful cows and spotted a few cats stalking in their chosen fields. Gary has started looking for them now :)

We walked as far as an old Linden tree up on a hill. Anina says tradition dictates each farm has a Linden tree planted beside the house. If the tree gets sick, you plant a new one to take its place so that there is always one there. There is a sturdy wooden bench beneath this Linden tree. Gary took a lot of pictures from that location, because you can see such a long way. He has learned to use some of the great features our camera has on our new phones, one of which is magnification. He got a great shot of Heimiswil which is 2 kilometers away. We both feel that Switzerland is a beautiful country full of a beautiful people, and this special part of the Emmental is possibly the best place on earth.

Cathy: The grocery store (Volg)

The Volg grocery store is closed tomorrow, Sunday, so while we were there we bought a few things for tomorrow and Monday and got into a conversation with the cashier. She said she had been in the U.S. 30 years ago, and when she told people she was from Switzerland, they had no clue where that is! Some confused it with Sweden! I thought that was embarrassing for them.

Cathy: The book exchange next to Volg

We wanted to find a couple books to take with us. There were some interesting titles we could quickly rule out, as well as overly large and thick books. Gary found one of poetry and writings that were from medieval times forward ("Deutsche Lyrik: Eine Anthologie"). I said okay, that could be interesting, but he wanted it for himself! So I eventually found one titled "Muh", written by a cow :) I read aloud the first page and we both laughed several times, so I think I found a good trade.

Gary & Cathy Martin