23 July 2019
Our muscles needed a bit of a break so we figured a walk round the open air museum at Ballenberg would be a good way to spend a day. We caught the bus from Brienz and were there 10 minutes before official opening but they let us in anyway and we wandered up the wooded path to start our exploration. What a great day, and what a huge site – you really need at least 2 full days to do it justice.
Across the site, clustered in regions, are houses and farms, and shops and workplaces from across the whole of Switzerland. Relocated and restored, where possible with a history of their previous occupiers and sometime with anecdotes from them. Some hold displays, such as traditional costumes, or music and musical instruments. Others are furnished just as they would have been. A working bakehouse, traditional crops such as spelt being harvested and placed in stooks, vegetable and medicinal gardens, pigs and cows and goats. All there and all traditional.
We found ourselves at the old Tilery wearing aprons and getting our hands dirty making a traditional roof-tile each, signing our work and carrying it up to the drying area. When enough are made they will be fired and used to roof or re-roof buildings here at Ballenberg. There is something very satisfying about playing with clay, although we got strange looks from the children!
We also loved the sawmill, powered by water-wheel, and spent half-an-hour there watching one man move and saw a huge tree-trunk into planks and 4”x4”. Amazing.
We were exhausted by the time we got to the east entrance near the end of the day and had really done just over half the exhibits. If we ever return to Switzerland (lottery-win necessary) we must come back and finish!