The Franceschi Park and its History

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Naomie Gauchat, Switzerland

Next year, I will return in Santa Barbara with my family to show them the most beautiful place that I have never seen; The Franceschi Park. This park was once the home of famed botanist F. Franceschi. I discovered this place with my SPIN class ”I LOVE SB”. The purpose of this class was to discover the city, and it worked.  

The park is located above the city. By car, it is only ten minutes from Downtown or one hour by walking. The location is pretty easy to find. There are direction signs along the way so you can not get lost. It has a panoramic view of the city and it provides a tranquil horticultural resource. A lot of people go there to relax themselves, do sports, walking their dog or just enjoy the view.  In addition to the view of the city, you also have an ocean view. On sunny days, you can easily distinguish the different islands, like : Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island and Anacapa Island. Those four islands are quite far from the waterfront, more than 3 hours by boat.

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Further into the park, you can observe a house. It was the house of M. Franco Franceschi. This house was used for botanical study and plant cultivation. This one became a botanical nursery for their experiments in plant propagation. Between 1894 and 1913, Franceschi imported over 900 species. He planted an enormous variety of native and non-native trees, like oak, camphor, cinnamon, avocado, banana, candlenut, and many species of citrus and palms. Many kinds of seeds were also grown on this area. Finally, through Franceschi’s efforts, almost 200 new plant species were introduced to California.

Unfortunately, F. Franceschi died in 1924 and M. Freeman inherited the house as well as the property. He was a huge fan of Franceschi’s work. Through his efforts, the property was enlarged and the house remodeled in a Mediterranean style. Freeman donated it to the city of Santa Barbara. That is why now everybody can go there. But the problem is that the city of Santa Barbara did not do the necessary renovations and maintenance and the house has fallen apart. For that reason the city of Santa Barbara decided two weeks ago to demolish the house and to rebuild something else. 

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Amazon Rain forest

Josefin, Sweden

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The Amazon Rainforest is located in 9 different countries, but the majority of the land is located in Brazil, around 60%. The rest of the rainforest area you can find in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana and French Guiana. The Amazon rainforest,the largest rainforest in the world, is home to a large part of the world’s animals. This gigantic rainforest stretches over 2.3 million square miles so it’s really huge.

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In the Amazon jungle, there is also a big Amazon river which is over 4,000 miles in length and the second longest river in the world after the Nile, which is located in Africa. Most of the water in the Amazon River actually comes from the melting glaciers from the mountains of Peru.

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The Amazon Rainforest has a big impact on us humans beings because it produces 20% of the world’s oxygen, and without oxygen we cannot breathe, including the animals also. But humans are quickly  destroying this beautiful and important rainforest that we have. There are many reasons why people cut down the forest, people who take part in cattle ranching, farming and road construction, all contribute to the destruction of the rainforest. It’s a very big issue and if we keep doing things like this, we will have serious problems and we cannot live without the forest.

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In the last 40 years, 20% of the Amazon Rainforest has been harvested and in 100 years, more than half of the Amazon jungle will disappear. Every single minute, the rainforest reduces by an area of 9 soccer fields this must of course be stopped because there are many animals, plants and flowers in the rainforest to be preserved.

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If you compare it with Sweden’s forest, we cut down a lot of trees, but often we plant them back again to preserve the forest so it can live on and not diminish. But I think that they should do it to the rainforest as well. If they cut down trees, they should plant a new tree immediately so we retain this important and beautiful rainforest. But the people who cut the rainforest down, see opportunities  in the place that becomes over when they cut down trees because the rainforest provides cheap work and provides a good  plantations.

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I hope people that live in the rainforests or that work there should think bigger and think about the future because the rainforest is so important for us humans and of course for the animals which are living there. It’s their home and the people are just coming in there and destroys their home. I think It’s so bad and terrible that humans can do that, and I really hope that it will be an and of all that thing people do to our beautiful rainforest. It makes me scared and angry that people destroy so much of the rainforest every day.

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People should be more careful about our rainforest and think about the next generation so we can live on. If not the rainforest lives we can not live either.

 

California Road Trip Trough Big Sur

Adele Fadier, France

Does the idea of a California road trip makes you dream? From Santa Barbara to Monterey you will discover all the best spots of the Pacific Coast, driving on Highway 1.

The California Coast is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. By this way you can discover all the California’s amazing natural life. Obviously, when you drive alongside the ocean you are going to see incredible places and views. That’s the upside of a road trip-you can stop everywhere you want. So, now I will show you the most famous spots of this Highway 1.

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After leaving Santa Barbara, your first official stop will be in San Simeon. In fact, this city located on California’s Central Coast offers drivers many reasons to stop and stay a while. San Simeon is home to 17,000 different animals, offering many opportunities to commune with wildlife and especially the elephant seals. Thousands of these sea mammals can be viewed sun bathing on a sandy beach or having a jolly good time in the water. The second famous place to visit in San Simeon is the Hearst Castle. It’s a National Historic Landmark which was a residence for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947. Actually many people come to visit this castle because of its amazing Roman architecture.

Then, you can continue on the road until you reach Sand Dollar Beach, which is the largest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur and is considered to be one of the best surfing spots in Big Sur. Visitors said Sand Dollar Beach is a beautiful and relaxing spot to lay out or have a picnic. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and it costs $10 to park your car, but another thing that is important to know is that swimming at Sand Dollar Beach is considered dangerous – so be careful.

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22.1 miles later you will arrive to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. A main feature of the park is McWay Falls, which drops over a cliff of 80 feet (24 meters) into the Pacific Ocean. In the same area you will find the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a nonprofit arts center, bookstore, and performance venue, championing the late writer, artist, and Big Sur resident Henry Miller and other creative individuals living in or near Big Sur. But that’s not all, in this place you can also find the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and the Pfeiffer Beach. This state park is massive with several hiking trails, picnic grounds and watering holes where you can see picnickers swimming with joy. About the Pfeiffer Beach, I strongly recommend coming in just before sunrise so that you can have the beach all to yourself. Moreover, it’s an amazing place to take pictures of the sunset or sunrise thanks to the impressive rocks situated in front of the beach.

In the same area, there is Partington Cove which is a beautiful hike to take in Big Sur. As you make your way through a tunnel, you will start to see the beginning of one of the most beautiful coves you will ever see – the water is so clear you can see the kelp and what seems to be the ocean floor below.

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A few kilometers further you can find Point Sur Lighthouse. That’s the only complete light station open to the public in California and it offers you an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.

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Then, you can continue your road until one of the most famous spot of the Big Sur, the Bixby Creek Bridge. It’s also one of the most photographed bridges in California due to its aesthetic design. It’s like a gate away to Big Sur.

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Now we arrive at the last area of this road trip, Monterey County, but don’t worry there are still many beautiful places to discover.

First, Garrapata State Park, an unknown Big Sur jewel – it’s a treasure to those who have discovered it. Garrapata State Park’s unpopulated hiking trails provide access to both the beautiful Big Sur coastline and the breathtaking Santa Lucia Mountains. So, you can’t miss it!

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After this, you can go to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This place is outstanding for sightseeing, photography, painting, nature study, picnicking, scuba diving, and jogging. The offshore area forms one of the richest underwater habitats in the world popular with divers. Wildlife includes seals, sea lions, sea otters and migrating gray whales. In this reserve you ought to go to China Cove and Gibson Beach, two amazing places to enjoy the view and the wildlife.

Point Lobos State Reserve at Highway 1 in California

Then, we will arrive at the penultimate city of this road trip called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. Here you can visit all the pretty streets of the city and the famous Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo.

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Finally, we will arrive at Monterey, the last place of this road trip. This is one of the most beautiful coastal cities of California. It was originally the state capital of California but today it is best known for its beautiful coastline, its world-class aquarium and from the many John Steinbeck novels set there.

As a conclusion, Big Sur will offer you an amazing road trip to discover the California central coast trough the Highway 1. Do not hesitate to stop whenever you want to enjoy the view or the atmosphere of a place. Let appreciate the nature and the wildlife without human intervention. So enjoy it, but be respectful of all the places you will visit. Another important thing to know is that you have to work on your itinerary before you go. Sometimes, some parts of the Highway can be closed for any reasons, so it’s better to be informed in time.

You can find below a video of a road trip in Big Sur with some places to sleep and to eat.

Enjoy your trip!

How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Luna, Belgium

Having a healthy lifestyle starts with a healthy mindset. You need to be in peace with yourself to be able to have access to that stable lifestyle you want. It’s all about finding that balance between self-care and allowing yourself to have a treat. It is important to know how your body works and how to improve your way of living.

The motivation and will to become healthy comes from within and you are the only person controlling your body. If you really want it, go and get it. It is as simple as that. You have to find certain sources of motivation to keep track of that lifestyle you want to achieve. As long as your mindset is in a good place, you will be, too !

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One of the first things that is crucial to know and that you’ve probably heard a billion of times is drinking water. It makes you feel cleansed 24/7 and it is recommended to drink 180 ml per day. It will keep your system going and your skin clear!

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Eating healthy always sounds so boring and like it’s something you have to endure, but it is way more easy and delicious than it sounds. You can find tons of easy recipes online that are so healthy and really tasty. Another way to achieve health in general is finding healthier options for things like butter, sugar and other harmfull products we might use a little too much. Coconut oil, Agave syrup are way better options for those two examples. Try to include plant-based products as much as you can in your diet because those are the most beneficial food sources you can eat. Vegetables and fruits are really important but, they’re not the only ones out there ; quinoa, all kinds of rice, grains, beans, lentils … are  fibers and protein sources that are so easy to make, way healthier and better for the environment than meat or fish.

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After you get your diet down and decide which kinds of food are working for you and your inner body, you need to focus on your body image. That is where exercise will become part of your routine. Try to find ways you like to exercise because going to the gym is not always a pleasure for everyone. Dancing, hiking, yoga, swimming sounds like fun to me and are really nice activities you can do with other people.

Finally, you need to see this as a better way of living and not a restrictive way of living. You need to enjoy it in order to maintain it. That’s why balance is the most important thing. You should be able to treat yourself, but have a healthy lifestyle in general.

https://www.pickuplimes.com/

 

Animals Facing Extinction

by Malena Julia Banjavcic, Switzerland

Help. What does help mean? Who needs help? And what help do they need? What can we do to help? These are questions we should ask ourselves every day. We are not alone in this world, even if it sometimes feels like it. There are people, who need help, but also animals. And we all need to start to ask ourselves how to make a change, because there are animals facing extinction and their time is running out.

So what does it mean when animals are in real danger facing extinction?

Plants and animals which are facing extinction are called Endangered Species. Particularly, it says that these species are very likely to become extinct in nearer time.  Of course, there are reasons in nature why animals become endangered, but for the most part we, humans, are the reason. Evidence of this is provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to it, we are now losing animal species at more than 1,000 times the normal rate. In 2012, the IUCN featured 3,079 animals and 2,655 plants as endangered worldwide. Whereas back in 1998, the figures were 1,102 animals and 1,197 plants.  People often don’t even know that animals, which are well known, are critically endangered. Examples of species which are facing extinction are the Amur Leopard (pic. 1), the Bornean Orangutan (pic. 2) or the Malayan Tiger (pic. 3).

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If nothing changes, we put ourselves in danger, too. The world is a whole, big ecosystem. Ecosystems depend on healthy plants and animals. Without them an ecosystem is not even possible; they are the foundation. When one of the species becomes endangered, the whole system slowly starts to fall apart. So every loss of a species triggers the next. Just like animals and plants, we, humans, also depend on healthy ecosystems like forests, oceans or grasslands. So we’re risking our health and environment when we don’t do anything about the contamination.

We, humans, cause the extinction of a lot of species only by living, but this can be changed. We have to live together with the animals. I once heard someone saying “it’s not our world, we just borrowed it” and I think that is the truth.

I  think something important to do is to educate. We need to teach people and especially children about what is happening right now. If people do not know about the problem, they can’t do anything, but it’s also the job of our governments. How do people still sell furs and skins of all these endangered animals without being punished for it? Another thing which helps, is ,of course, the support for several organisations which work on this problem. Support can mean financial for those, who either don’t have the time or the will to go to the affected places where help is needed, but volunteer work is also support. Not only do you help, but you also experience beautiful countries and learn something about our world, the different cultures and also about yourself. “Work” doesn’t always mean it’s not fun.

It’s not that difficult to change something, so why isn’t there a change going on? – Ask yourself.

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Things To Do in Switzerland

Alyssa Knutti, Switzerland

Switzerland is officially the second happiest country on the planet, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report. And while you read this article you’ll soon realize why Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. There are so many things you can do in this small country from exploring the Swiss Alps to passing the spectacular Rhine Falls or sailing around Lake Geneva.

  1. Go skydiving

An amazing place where you can skydive is Interlaken. Interlaken is close to the capital city and is surrounded by peaks of the alps. It’s one of the most spectacular spots on earth to go skydiving.

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2. Take the Glacier Express

You should definitely ride with the famous Glacier Express through the mountains. Riding the train is pretty spectacular because it has huge panoramic, glass windows. If you want to take the whole ride you have to get in from Zermatt and then you go out at Davos or St. Moritz.

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3. Visit the James Bond Restaurant

The famous James Bond restaurant in Switzerland is located at the top of the Schilthorn, a 2970 meter high mountain in the middle of the country. The restaurant is called Piz Gloria. It is where the 1969 James Bond movie was set. It’s also a revolving restaurant. That means you can eat and the view changes all the time.

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4. Get soaked by the waterfalls

If you want to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Switzerland you have to go to Lauterbrunnen and take the one hour hike to Trummelbach. You’ll actually pass about two or three other waterfalls along the way. Trummelbach is the most famous waterfall. It has been formed by the melting snow breaking through cracks in the rocks.

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World as a Controlled Hallucination

Karolina Kluza, Poland


What would be your reaction if I told you that the world around you is just a complex, simultaneous, processed hallucination controlled by your brain? At first, you will probably think that it is a jocular deceit or maybe a test of your knowledge. “How could it be possible” you will wonder, “that what I see may not be compatible with what the world can actually be like?”


The “sense- data” theory of perception is the most commonly known, although nowadays it is believed to be rather ‘naive’. It assumes that the way of our observation comes directly from a hierarchical system, similar to one in electronic devices like cameras. Its trail starts when light reaches our eyes, then it is converted into electrical signals, due to the cells of the retina, which encode the image. The image is sent along the optic nerve to the neural cortex which is responsible for reconstruction of visual elements. Parts of the completed image are delivered to the mind as a whole picture. Lastly,  the conscious mind tries to interpret the image.

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The problem with the ‘naive’ perceptional system is simple to explain. Normally, when you see something, it is already categorized as a ‘ready to see object’ which must have been previously interpreted. So, it means that a ‘normal’ perception is an act of interpretation of our world, an attempt to figure out what the object is or is not by oueselves. The conclusion is that perception is just a process of best-guessing or inference.


Given these facts, the next step to get closer to understanding this problem is to take into consideration the direction of perception. Does it come from inside out or outside in, or maybe both answers are true? Anil Seth and Andy Clark, the authors of the newest perceptional theory, claim that perception happens as much from the “inside out” as the “outside in.” The human brain does not try to neutrally analyze sensory data; it checks if the data matches its expectations in order to develop a picture that slots in its already created world. “Your brain tries to guess what’s out there,” said Clark, and “to the extent that the guess matches or…explains away the evolving sensory data, you get to perceive the world.”

Seth and Clark validate their theory by referring to several experiments and neurological studies. The simplest ones are based on “what we hear, see and feel”. In the link below you can check them yourself:

https://theweekenduniversity.com/blog/3-experiments-from-neuroscience-which-prove-reality-is-a-hallucination/

For example, during his speech, Clark played a short audio file of a woman’s voice, which had been deliberately garbled through sine-wave distortion to make it difficult to understand. Then, the audience heard the original recording and once again the disturbed one, which they perfectly understood this time. That short experiment shows that the process of how the human brain can actively match its expectation with sensory data.


A fresh, modern and changed look at our perception has the potential to bring the world many opportunities for more profound comprehension of problems that are our everyday struggles. Many diseases such as schizophrenia or depression can be better understood and treated when people start to think differently.

Furthermore, if you give this idea a try, you will see yourself not as a single entity of consciousness, but realize that in our world there is much more than only one possible way of being and perceiving.


“We’re all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it “reality”.”
— Anil Seth

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Trash – One of the Main Causes of Environmental Pollution

Lina Steffens, Germany

About eight million tons of plastic trash end up in our oceans every year, which is affecting the wildlife in the ocean and on the coast. Annually, about 100,000 marine mammals die due to plastic pollution and millions of birds and fish mistake plastic debris for food or get stuck in them. Along the shores, thousands of bird corpses rest on the beach with their stomachs full of plastic trash. From whales, sea lions, and birds to the zooplankton, plastic is greatly affecting marine life, and those who suffer most are the animals.

Why is the consumption of plastic so tremendous? It is lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, strong and inexpensive, qualities that make the use of plastic in different areas of industry and production very attractive, which leads to an over-consumption of plastic goods such as plastic bags, packaging, straws or bottles. Coupled with littering and polluting, plastic represents a danger for nature, our environment and the animal kingdom.

A plastic bag takes about 10-20 years to decompose, while a plastic bottle needs about 450 years until it’s completely decayed. If you imagine the amount of already existing plastic trash, and the amount that is added daily, the likelihood to eliminate it from our oceans completely seems impossible.

One of the main problems is recycling, or the fact that many people are not aware what proper  recycling, and the conscious use of plastic goods could change. Different types of trash are usually put in one bin together, regardless of the possibility to help saving the environment by just separating it. Bags, bottles and packaging are often dropped on the ground where they start polluting the environment.

Each and every person that consumes plastic goods daily has to rethink their use of it. Even small changes of the amount we use and how we recycle it can make a big difference. Separating our trash, recycling plastic, minimizing the use of plastic or the use of biodegradable plastic can help. There is no way to undo it, but we can prevent the worldwide problem from getting worse.

History of the Crusaders

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Kevin Bolt,Switzerland

In the year 1095 after Christ, Pope Urban II called in the Council of Clermont at the beginning of the Crusades.

 

In the spring of 1096, the Crusaders broke up into four armies under the leadership of French princes.

 

The religion of Islam, founded by the Arab Mohammed in Mecca 630, became a threat to Byzantium. As the holy places of Christianity in Jerusalem were also in the hands of the Arabs, the Pope called for the First Crusade.

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In the year 1099, the Crusaders succeed in conquering Jerusalem. 

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 The siege lasted five weeks. During this time, the Crusaders set up an appalling massacre among the Islamic and Jewish populations.

 

The goal of the crusade had been reached and more than one million people had lost their lives in this war.

 

: 1096-1099 First Crusade

: (15.7.1099 Storming of Jerusalem

: 1147-1149 Second Crusade

: 1189-1192 Third Crusade

: 1202-1204 Fourth Crusade 

: 1218-1229 Fifth crusade

: 1248-1254 Sixth crusade

: 1270 Seventh Crusade

 

The Seventh Crusade was also called the Children’s Crusade. Crusade undertaken by French and German children, in which they moved, from religious zeal, to the thousands to Genoa and Marseille, and perished miserably or were sold as slaves on the way.

 

The consequences of the Crusades:

The formation of Knights ‘ order

(Templar order, Order of St. John and Teutonic Order.

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Ranking of the order of the Knights Templar:

Since there was a well-organized hierarchy among the Templars, it was possible for them to set up a powerful army.

There were a large number of well-trained knights in the main quarters who guarded the fortresses on the one hand and were on call for the fight on the other.
In addition to these knights, there were sergeants and squires who belonged to the Templars.

 

Grandmaster–he acted like a sovereign
• Seneschal-he was the second highest dignitary • Marshal-was responsible for the training of the Knights

• Komtur – responsible for the provinces and treasurers

• Schneider – provided the Knights with the necessary garments depending on the seasons

• Fighting Brothers Knights – were members of the aristocracy – their possessions: 3 horses, a squire and a tent

• Serving Brothers Sergeants – came from a non-aristocratic family and possessed 1 horse

• Under Marshal-subjected to the marshal-was treated similarly to a knight

• Banner Carrier – was sergeant and responsible for all squires

• Squire – Stood up to the knight in battle and took care of the equipment and the horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appenzell

Raphaela Vogel, Switzerland

Appenzell is a region in the northeast of Switzerland. I will show you some of the places you have to see:

Mountains: Alpstein

In Appenzell, there are a lot of mountains. Altogether they are called Alpstein. The biggest mountain in Alpstein is called Saentis, which is 8,216 feet (2,504 m).  In the summer, there are a lot of hiking trails. In the winter you can go skiing and go for a winter walk in the snow.

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One of the most popular mountains in Appenzell is called Ebenalp. It became very popular because of a restaurant on the way up. The restaurant is called Aescher and it was built precariously into the face of the rock.

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Cheese factory

Another typical thing for Appenzell is the cheese. We have our own cheese called “Appenzeller cheese”. In a little village called Stein, we have our cheese factory. Overthere you can look over the shoulders of the cheesemaker and you will see how they produce their cheese. And if you like, you have the possibility to make your own cheese. Of course, there is also a restaurant and a shop where you can eat something or buy some cheese or a souvenir.

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Appenzell (City)

The capital of Appenzell has the same name as the region. In this city, you can see some typical houses for this area. And, of course, you can spend some time in this cute city. If you would like to learn something about the culture of this region you can go to the museum. There they will show you all about their lifestyle and their culture.

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Silversterchlausen

There is something that only exists in Appenzell. It is called Silversterchlausen. Each year at New Year’s Eve, some groups of six men (Silversterchlauese) go from house to house. First, they will sing together. After that, they will wish you a lucky New Year!

There are two different kinds of Silversterchlaeuse. We called them “The Beautiful Ones” (picture on the left) and “The Ugly Ones” (picture on the right).

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