Heidi’s Years of Learning and Travel

After our morning at the dramatic Tamina Gorge and fascinating Bad Pfäfers Museum we returned by Schluchtenbus to Bad Ragaz town centre for a lunch in the sunny main square – a Swiss speciality cheese and onion tart with salad. We then caught a local post bus  to Maienfeld just a few miles away.

Heidi in German

Agnes’s Version of Heidi : Lehr- und Wanderjahre

Maienfeld was the inspiration to Joanna Spyri for her Heidi books; the first of which had the same title as this post. From the train and bus station it’s just a few steps to the Heidi Shop and Wine Bar [Maienfeld is in a significant Swiss wine-growing region]. The shop stocks every kind of souvenir thinkable with a Heidi connection and is surprisingly kitsch for Switzerland. There is also, naturally, a wide choice of Heidi titles and editions in various languages. This region “Heidiland” is relentlessly marketed throughout the area and throughout Switzerland in general and overseas.

Heidi shop (and wine bar)

The Heidi Shop and Wine Bar

Heidis for sale

Various Heidi titles for sale

Original marketing

Original Heidi Marketing Logo

Today's marketing

Today’s Logo Version

We took the route marked uphill towards the Heidi House and Johanna Spyri Museum. It’s a quiet road and track and steepish in places with no-one else about.

Heidi Way

The Heidi Way is in this direction

This way to Heidi House

The quiet track up to Dörfli

So we were surprised as we neared the house to see crowds of people. On our alternative route back to Maienfeld we passed a big bus and car park from where the nations of the world had emerged with just a short, level path to the ‘village’ – Dörfli, in the books, but now renamed Heididorf.

Arabic signs

Signs in Arabic?

Heidi House

Arriving at the Heidi House

Heidi House illustration

Heidi House illustration from Agnes’s book

Not so much interested in all things ‘Heidi’ Susanne and I wanted to visit the Johanna Spyri Museum housed above (another) Heidi Gift Shop. There’s another Spyri Museum at her birthplace in Hirzel near Zurich. They must have any and all artefacts relating to her as there was very little here, near Maienfeld. Mostly, the museum consisted of information panels, a large collection of old and foreign editions of ‘Heidi‘ and video loops of extracts from Heidi movies made during the last century.

Heidi editions

Heidi editions in the Spyri Museum

Johanna Spyri reminds me of Louisa M. Alcott who is famous for her Little Women books but has written and done so much more that is generally not known to the world at large. Spyri was born in 1827 and died in Zurich in 1901. Heidi was first published in Germany in 1879 and was a huge success. It is reputed to be the most-translated book in the world after the Bible and the Koran. But Spyri wrote much more besides and this is otherwise glossed over at the Dörfli Museum although there is a full list of these titles there are no actual examples; just a wall full of old and foreign editions of Heidi.

Peter's goats

Descendants of Peter’s Goats? (from the museum window)

After the Spyri Museum and a quick walk around the exterior of the reputed Heidi House we decided to forego the longer walks up to the Heidi Alp and returned on foot to Maienfeld and by train to Schiers.

Further walking if you have the time and energy

Further Hiking Opportunities in Heidiland if you have the time and the energy


10 comments on “Heidi’s Years of Learning and Travel

  1. ms6282 says:

    I guess you wo’nt be changing your name to Heidi after all then! But, seriously, I’m enjoying vicariously experiencing your adventure living in Switzerland.

  2. Nilly says:

    Oh dear – Heidi overload! Is this dumbing down Swiss-style?

  3. Sarah Wrightson says:

    I’m interested to find out what else she wrote — like many, I never knew. Lovely photos, beautiful country though.

    • Thank you, Sarah. I’m afraid that my photo of the list of works didn’t come out too well and probably most of her other work is not available in English translation. Saves us buying another author’s output though 🙂

  4. dianabirchall says:

    Reading between the lines, it sounds to me as if you are suffering from just a spot of very polite but still discernable Heidi-exhaustion! No wonder, the place seems as saturated as Prince Edward Island is with Anne tourism. Still, I did like Heidi as a little girl and would have enjoyed following you and your pictures up the Heidi-Alp! Only so much heroism you can endure for the sake of a blog, though!

    • I came across the two extremes in Switzerland, Diana. A Thomas Mann path that no-one seemed to know much about and Heidi path where the nations of the world assemble. I feel sure, though, that the further paths would have become very quiet and the scenery idyllic. But we spent the morning at the Gorge so time was moving on. Thanks, Diana – maybe the next time … ?

  5. I adored Heidi as a little girl, my dad bought me a pop-up picture book when I was about six…saw it in a shop window on his way home from work and I loved it like no other, still have it and to this day every character is fixed in my mind as they are in that book! Lovely to have been there virtually now Barbara thank you x

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