There is a book called “Heidi”. For real. It was published in 1881 so it is not my story, but there are some pretty ironic tie-ins to my life so when I realized I was just an hour train ride away from Heididorf, the original setting of the book, I had to go! I threw a fair bit of money at my train ticket [before I learned about the half fare pass…harumph] and arrived in Maienfeld early on a Tuesday afternoon. I was immediately greeted with a sign flaunting Heididorf with a photo of a young girl in the mountains. I was about to spend half a day surrounded in all things Heidi…
After a stop at the HeidiLand Tourism office to grab a map and peruse room full of shirts and patches and everything else embroidered with “Heidi + Peter” I was off on the walking tour. The yellow trail signs labeled “Heidiweg” were accompanied by a variety of “Heididorf” and “Hotel Heidihof” and they all pointed me uphill, toward the mountains. The actual Heidiweg trail lead me along city streets that quickly melted into country roads just meters outside the city. Just a few steps past a shop advertising ice cream cones I was surrounded by vineyards, rock walls and old corner towers. Welcome to my kind of mountain countryside! Okay, so I really like the bell’ed cows too, but this wasn’t a bad compromise!
About 30 minutes into my hike I arrived at the actual Heididorf, a small touristy town build up around Heidi’s house and the museum, restaurant and hotel that was thriving on the Heididorf tourism. Once again the little shops were filled with “Heidi + Peter” apparel and knick knacks. Obviously I need to find myself a guy named Peter…our story has already been written!
From Heididorf I had the option to hike up Heidi’s Adventure Trail to see some of the iconic spots written about in the story of Heidi and stop by Heidialp, a cafe at the top. I was not prepared for this — I was wearing a cheap pair of knock-off Keds and jeans. But when there is a trail telling if your adventures, you go!
— top: proof that the Swiss love their signs! || bottom: proof the knock-off Keds handled the “good footwear required” trails with grace —
The trail was about 6km total, I believe. The first 3km were straight up, and the second 3km came right back down. Along the way there were little check points where a big sign was set up with a short story of why that area was important to the story of Heidi. There was a snack spot, where Heidi and Alm Uncle would stop for a snack on their way into town. There was a treehouse, where Heidi and Peter play as they watched over the goats. And, finally, after about 8 check points there was Heidi’s Mountain Meadow, a large open field with a watering trough and a wide open view of the valley and mountains beyond. I fully approve of the name!
On my trek back down into town I detoured a little bit — I saw a sign for Peter’s Hutte and figured I’d branch out a bit, get away from all the Heidi’ing if only for one stop. Unfortunately the hut was closed so I just wandered by and hopped on another trail that claimed to take me to Maienfeld. It did, sort of. It took the long way and I meandered along the wooded mountainside a bit before hooking back up with a main section of Heidi’s Adventure Trail.
I will admit, I skipped Heidi’s Fountain while I was out exploring Heididorf — it was about a mile away from the train I needed to catch back into Zurich for dinner plans. Oops. But really, I don’t think I missed much, right?!
As for the entire trip — I’m glad I did it. However, if you are not a Heidi or a toddler/child the trip might not be worth it. Of course, I didn’t spend the money on access to the Johanna Spryi or Heidi House museum so I can’t say I’ve seen everything. The trek up Heidi’s Adventure Trail was full of cute educational moments for children and, as a Heidi I had plenty of reasons to be excited about a town dedicated to me!
Oh…and if you do go, don’t wear knock-off Keds! You’ll probably survive the trek but your feet will hate you afterward! My poor toes!