St. Gallen

Today Sandy will reunite with the angel she met on the Camino, Bernadette from St Gallen Switzerland which is only a 2.5 hour train ride from Munich.
Luquin Spain September 28, 2022. We first met Bernadette at a bar/cafe about 30 minutes after this picture was taken. We had had coffee and started speaking with a couple from Atlanta. Bernadette walked in and they had met her previously and introduced us to each other. Jim is the only one who remembers the meeting but he remembered her name and the fact that she was from Switzerland.
This is October 24, 26 days and almost 500 kilometers later. We had passed Bernadette and Jim greeted her by name. Sandy stayed here while Jim went over to The High Pilgrim of San Roque.
Bernadette took this picture and she has one that Jim took of her.
A little bit further along we came around a corner and ran into Rebecca from Wisconsin who we hadn’t seen in a week or so. You can see Bernadette coming up from behind.
Bernadette, Switzerland; Sandy, citizen of the world; Rebecca, Wisconsin and Petra, Sweden. This is the highlight of the Camino for us, to connect with people from around the world with a common goal to walk a Pilgrimage across the entire country of Spain and reach the sacred Santiago de Compestela during a Jacobean year when all your sins will be forgiven on arrival.
The next day, Jim completely pooped out and had to call a taxi from this bar. Sandy was delighted to see Bernadette and they walked the next two days together.
Bernadette and Sandy were such a good match for walking together. They walked at the same pace, they were each ready to stop and rest and eat at the same time. Bernadettes spoke English very well and the conversation was easy as we got to know one another but we also enjoyed moments of silence to absorb the beauty of our walk. It was a match made in Heaven for both of us. The miles just flowed by.
One mile before our walk for the day was over we indulged in a beer with two delightful hikers that Sandy had met earlier. They were Phil from New Zealand and Dennis from Australia. They actually met on a previous Camino Frances, starting in St Jean Pied de port France to Santiago (500miles) . This time they started in Le Puy France to Santiago Spain for a total of 1530km or close to 1,000 miles!
Bernadette met us at the train station in St. Gallen and walked us to our hotel, then made dinner for us that evening. Her daughter in law’s Mom, Jean who is originally from North Carolina joined us that evening and we had a great time together. Jean was a lot of fun, she spoke German with a southern drawl.
St Gallen, is a charming city south of Lake Constance in northeastern Switzerland. The town of St Gallen grew around the Abbey of St Gall, founded in the year 612 by Gallus, an itinerant Irish monk.
The Baroque Cathedral is part of the Abbey of St Gall and was completed in 1767.
Among its rich decorations are frescoes painted mostly by Josef Wannenmacher, and the most complete set of historic church bells in Switzerland. The south altar features a hand bell brought back by St Gall himself from Ireland, one of three oldest surviving bells in Europe.
We were fortunate enough to catch an organ performance by a female organist, Melanie Jager- Waldau. Above are two short videos from the music selection.
This is the magnificent organ. It is one of only about a dozen Wurlitzer organs worldwide that are preserved unchanged as they were originally.
The Abbey Library of St Gall is a significant medieval monastic library and along with the Abbey and Cathedral it has been declared a World Heritage Site. It is one of the most beautiful and oldest libraries in the world.
The Library Hall was designed by architect Peter Thumb in a Rococo style and constructed between 1758-1767 making it the third oldest library in the world.
This is a replica of the St Gallen Globe, the original was stolen over 400 years ago by Zurich troops as war booty in 1712. It took ten years of negotiations before a Swiss compromise could be met. Zurich kept the original and agreed to make an exact replica for St Gallen at a total cost of 860,000 Swiss francs. The globe shows both the earth and the stars in the night sky completed in 1571. It is only one of a few large 16th century globes in existence. The fact that it shows both the heavens and earth on one sphere is thought to make it unique.
In small niches over the poles are twenty cherubs that represent twenty professions and each cherub looks down on the visitors except the astronomer who looks up through the telescope.
There are large cuddly slippers provided to wear over shoes so as to protect the beautiful wooden floors.
Wooden floors of the Library.
There is a fascinating 2700 year old Egyptian mummy by the name of Shepenese who was retrieved from one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt. She was the daughter of a priest and lived at the beginning of the 26th dynasty (664-525) and was around 30 years old. We were not allowed to take a photo. This has been a hot topic between Egypt and Switzerland regarding the human dignity of the deceased and displaying them in a dignified manner and Egypt has agreed to let her remain in Switzerland. The library staff honors her with an end of day ritual, they cover the glass coffin with a white veil and speak words of respect for the Egyptian concept of eternal life over her corpse. We did get this picture of the mummy at the far right.
This is a picture of the mummy from Wikipedia.
The Abbey also has a vaulted cellar with remnants of the original pillars and original manuscripts with 1400 years of cultural history from the hermit cell of Gallus to the Abbey district Unesco world Heritage Site.
Photo of original pillars.
Gallus the monk.
The Great Hartmut Bible included six volumes with a total of 2,600 pages requiring the skins of 650 sheep!
The Plan of St Gall is considered the most important architectural drawing of the Middle Ages. It is presented in a separate room of the Exhibition Hall and the original in the below photo is viewed briefly after an audiovisual introduction. It rises out of the case below and is displayed for a few moments in the dark. You will need to zoom in to see the drawings.
The St Gall Abbey archives are considered the Pompeii of early medieval written records. No other monastic archives has succeeded in preserving so many documents from that period.
St Gallen bay windows or oriels were evidence of the wealth of many city merchants who used them to adorn the plain faces of their houses. There are 111 of them. They lend an artistic ambience to the old town.
Our visit with Bernadette would not be complete without a long walk together so she suggested we walk along the path that follows Lake Constance. So we took a train to Uttwil to begin our walk.
Sunflower Fields viewed from the train.
Before beginning the walk we had lunch at this lakeside restaurant of freshly caught fish from the lake.
Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is a 63km long Central European freshwater lake that borders Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We were on the Bodensee just one year ago to see the opera Madama Butterfly.
This was July 27 2022. The stage for the opera is in the edge of the Bodensee in the town of Bregenz.
It is a real holiday paradise joined by charming towns and is mainly a summer destination for swimming, sailing and surfing.
This unusual home shaped like a ship and sitting in a moat setting overlooking the lake has been abandoned for many years. We were curious about why but could not find any information. Bernadette said it has been like that for a long time and may never have been inhabited.
There are many cute stilt houses aka pile dwellings along the lake.
Very sweet cottage.
Unusual Lake birds.
Tree wood carving
Unusual variety of a lilac tree.
A flower store was going on vacation and was giving away fresh cut flowers. Bernadette picked a nice assorted bouquet to take home.
We took the train back to St Gallen
Roter Platz (Red Square) was designed by architect Carlos Martinez and multimedia artist Pipilotti Rise. This is a spongy red carpet that cover a large public space creating a giant lounge/living room effect.
Overhead are floating lights that set the scene for different lighting moods.
It is a 24/7 urban oasis for playing, relaxing and doing business.
We stayed at this hotel for the weekend. It was very nice. Bernadette lives on the hillside just behind it which made it very convenient.
Hotel staircase.
On the last day of our visit Bernadette joined us for breakfast at our hotel then took us on a hike/walk along the gorge to the upper part of St. Gallen.
Tamina Gorge of St Gallen was created by the power of the Tamina river. The water of this small river has been gradually carving out a deep gorge over the last 15,000 years.
This is Drei Weieren (three ponds) which in summer are popular spots to swim and in winter they turn into Ice Skating rinks and they even have a sauna.
Bernadette said she would come back later for a swim.
Siesta time for these livestock.
Spectacular panoramic views at the top.
We stopped for a little break before heading down and Bernadette treated us to Rivella which is the Swiss national drink. It is a non alcoholic carbonated soft drink which is produced from milk whey and includes lactose and artificial sweeteners. It was surprisingly refreshing.
These cows have a nice view on the hillside and they all wear cowbells making for nice hiking music.
Bernadette walked us to the train station to wish us “Uf Widerluege” (until we meet again). Thank you Bernadette for a memorable weekend in your beautiful home town. There is a saying among the pilgrims that “the Camino provides”. We will always be grateful that the Camino provided us with your friendship.

3 responses to “St. Gallen”

  1. St. Gallen is so charming….brought back memories of my visit there some years ago….thanks for the incredible history and photos!!

  2. Its so beautiful, thank you very much, it’s a wonderful memory of this three day’s. And I learned a lot about my town, i didn’t know before. Thank you for the great time together. Love Bernadette

    1. We enjoyed our time with you so much.

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