Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hitchhiking benches in Lugano

It might sound like something out of the 60s BUT hitchhiking is back trying to create a new perspective on mobility. Would you like to give or get a ride and experiment car sharing?

By sitting on any of the yellow benches around town, you can indeed expect a driver to stop by to offer you a ride. This service, fundamentally spontaneous between citizens, comes about as a free alternative to public transportation.

However, beware that as this service happens deliberately, the juridical responsibility befalls on both the driver and the passenger in case anything happens during the trip. The City of Lugano cannot be held responsible for anything that might arise during one’s trip. They therefore recommend for you to use your critical mind and to cautiously pick your hitchhiking companions.

Hmmm, what are your thoughts on this initiative?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

ENUEUM or how the Swiss empathize with Britain

Suspicions that Switzerland and the UK have been quietly working behind the scenes to draw up a post-Brexit economics and trade agreement have now been confirmed.

Mid.December 2018, the Swiss government announced it had signed off on the text of the new agreement it said should form the basis of business and trade relations between the two countries after the UK quits the European Union.

Trade between Switzerland and the UK was worth 17.5 billion Swiss francs last year. The UK was Switzerland’s sixth biggest export market in 2017 and its sixth largest direct investor in 2016.

However, the trade agreement between the UK and Switzerland, will need to be approved by the parliaments of both countries. In the meantime, a good dose of sense of humour will get us through the transition period.

Welcome to the EUNEUM (European Union of Non European Members) or how the Swiss offer a hand to friendless Brexit Britain...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

What is the Swiss Federal Council?

The Federal Council is the highest executive authority of the Swiss Confederation.  Its members represent Switzerland’s main political parties. 

The national government of Switzerland has seven members, who are elected by the United Federal Assembly.  Each Federal Councillor is appointed to serve a one-year term as President of the Confederation by the Federal Assembly in accordance with the principle of seniority.  The Federal President chairs the sessions of the executive and undertakes special ceremonial duties, particularly abroad. 

In keeping with the consociational model of democracy adopted by Switzerland, all members of the Federal Council pledge to govern in a spirit of cooperation.  As a collegial body, the Federal Council must remain unanimous when presenting cabinet decisions to the public, even if it is contrary to their personal view or to the official line taken by their party. 

At the present time, the Federal Council has two representatives from the Liberal Party (FDP), two representatives from the Swiss Social Democratic Party (SP), two representatives from the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), and one representative from the Swiss Christian Democratic Party (CVP).  Each member of the Federal Council also heads a federal department. 

The Federal Council generally meets once a week.  Over the year, it deals with between 2,000 and 2,500 items of business, which have been prepared by the federal departments or by the Federal Chancellery.  The Federal Chancellor, who acts as chief-of-staff to the Federal Council, attends all cabinet meetings, but in a purely advisory capacity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Making of the Bundesrat Photo 2019

This year's official Federal Council photo 2019 was made by the Federal Office of Computer Science and Telecommunication (BIT) apprentices.

The idea, the background image and the photo all came from them. The only requirement Federal President Ueli Maurer had given them was that the photo should be taken with a smartphone.

The official photo shows the cabinet ministers and the chief of staff around the 2019 Swiss President at the centre taking a picture of a crowd of people.

The council is posing in front of typically Swiss trademark symbols silhouettes, including the Matterhorn mountain, a pair of skis, a Swiss army knife and the cheese fondue pot.

The Swiss government (from left to right) Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr, Viola Amherd (defence minister), Simonetta Sommaruga (transport/energy/environment minister ), Guy Parmelin (economics, education minister), Ueli Maurer (finance minister/2019 Swiss President), Ignazio Cassis (foreign minister), Alain Berset (interior minister) and Karin Keller-Sutter (justice/police minister).

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Swiss Three Kings Cake recipe

In Switzerland, the Three Kings cake is made ​​from sweet yeast dough​, which is formed into balls, arranged in a flower-shape and sprinkled with almonds and coarse sugar.

There are various types of Three Kings' cakes found throughout Switzerland. All have a white plastic king figure “hidden” inside. The person who finds this piece is then “King or Queen for the Day” meaning he or she gets to choose what to do during that day and also what chores to avoid. No washing dishes, no cleaning up, no cooking?!

The Three Kings' cake is one of the most popular traditions in Switzerland. At the Iowa AG alone, which is Migros' bakery wholesale distributor produced over 500'000 pieces in 2000. His rival Coop managed to sell over 250,000. This is without counting the hundred of thousands cakes sold in bakeries throughout the country.  The total sales amount to approx 1.5 million cakes every year. Now beat that. No other celebration is so widely spread across this tiny, multi-cultured country.

Most Swiss buy their Epiphany cake at the local bakery or supermarket.
However, home-made always tastes best. Following is an easy and fast recipe to make with your kids. And who knows, if you're lucky, you might not even have to do the washing up!!!

500gr flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
20gr (1/2 dice) fresh yeast, crumbled
60gr butter
1/2 lemon, grated rind
4 tablespoons raisins
3dl milk, warmed

1 egg, beaten
Sugar crysals, almond leaves

1.) Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes unti a smooth dough has formed.
2.) Cover dough and let rise for 2 hours until it has doubled in volume.
3.) Form 8 servings, each weighing approximately 80gr.
4.) Stick a king in one of the balls.
5.) Form the remaining dough into a large ball and place on a baking sheet lined tray with the smaller balls distributed evenly around it.
6.) Let stand for covered for another 30 minutes at room temperature to rise.
7.) Brush with egg.
8.) Bake for approx. 30 minutes in the bottom half of the pre-heated 180° C oven. Cool on a wire rack and then decorate!

The “Swiss Way” to eat the "Torta dei Re Magi" is with a good cheese selection, or butter, jam and hot chocolate at breakfast, lunch OR supper time!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Three Wise Men in Lugano

It will be the arrival of the Three Kings on horseback to close the holiday programme tomorrow!

The Officers' Riding Club will be organizing the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Piazza della Riforma with free distribution of drinks and tangerines. Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar, accompanied by the Bedouins, will parade along the streets of the city center.
The little ones can look forward to receiving some goodies while the really lucky ones can also experience the thrill of riding with a king.

Venue: Arrival of the Three Kings, Natale in Piazza
Where: Piazza della Riforma
Date: Sunday, January 6th, 2019
Time: 11:15

Monday, December 31, 2018

Expat with Kids in 2018

Thanking my followers for being part of my adventure in Lugano, Paris, Madrid and beyond...

Best of nine in 2018!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Family Christmas time in London

It is time to head back... leaving Expat boy behind for him to finish his six-month internship at one of London’s swankiest hotels, the rest of the family hopped in the black cab taking us to St.Pancras station where we heavy-heartedly caught the Eurostar across the channel to Paris.

Five days... and it seems like we know the city. We went from Christmas Carol services at St.Martin in the Fields to watching a football match at Fulham stadium. We had lunch at Quaglino’s, tea at the National Portrait Gallery and dinner at the Aquashard. We loved the Lion King musical and enjoyed skating at Somerset House.

We strolled along the London Southbank and took lots of photos on the Millenium Bridge. We opted not to pay 18.- GBP entrance per person to visit St.Paul’s Cathedral! Seriously?!? I have an objection, a mix of meanness and principle, to paying an entrance fee to see a place of worship.
We attended a Catholic Sunday mass St.Paul’s Church instead and celebrated a sung eucharist on Christmas Day in an Anglican Church.

We hit Harrods on Boxing Day and couldn’t miss checking out Harvey Nichols’ Christmas Wonderland window displays. Fortnum&Mason’s, Liberty’s, Hamleys, Maison Assouline, Waterstones and Lillywhites were duly visited as was Bond Street and Covent Garden.

A teenage tour led us through Abercrombie&Fitch, Hollister and Thomas Hilfiger until we found what we were looking for at TopShop... where else?!? And how could I resist Victoria’s Secret?!?

Peggy Porschen and Spectrum were a must see if only for Expat with Kids Instagram account.

Carnaby Street and Kingsley’s Court were much to Expat Girl’s liking while a pub dinner at Shepherd market was a true British treat for the whole family.

A quick walk in Green Park for some fresh air while bumping into the squadron of the Queen’s Life Guards in front of Buckingham Palace and trying to avoid the horrendous crowds heading towards Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.

By which time we were ready for some real Neapolitan food at Da Maria in Notting Hill just in time to watch the Napoli vs Inter match on Italian SkyTV!
A well deserved rest at the Savoy lounge covered in Christmas galore topped off our London holiday experience.

And although Expat boy could not join us for all the fun, it was great being together again these past days for we’ll have many happy memories to look back on when Expat Mummy finally got her British Christmas festivities after two decades of Natale alla Napoletana.

Annabel’s night club will have to wait for next time...

Carol Service at St. Martin in the Fields

Lion King at the Lyceum theatre

Christmas vibes at Quaglino's

View from the Aquashard

St.Paul's Cathedral admired from the outside

Panoramic view on the Millenium Bridge

Skating at Somerset House

Harvey Nichols' window champagne display

Burlington passage 

Pimp my car

Dinner at a local pub

When you go over the top with Christmas decorations

Peggy Porschen's Christmas wreath

Hotel Claridges' tree of love

Changing of a guard?

Liberty at Christmas

Paddington Bear at Hamley's

Maison Assouline's inspiring world of beyond!

Covent Garden

Hitting the sales at Harrods

Christmas galore at the Savoy Hotel

Dinner Menu at Da Maria's 

Spectrum's Instagram set-up 

Annabel's at Mayfair

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Advent time of an Expat in Paris

Christmas officially starts with the Primary School Holiday Bazaar when the premises get decked out with glitter and gold and you can feel the tiny tots' excitement growing. All proceeds go towards the "Children without Cancer Foundation" which sets the theme for the season: "Better Together!"

December 6th the Swiss Samichlaus knocks on the door and Expat Girl and I bake Grittibänz (sweet bread men) for the family to devour over the weekend.

Two weeks ago the Christmas tree went up in our living room and all the little Swedish handmade wooden Father Christmases found their place on our dining room table - much to my unenthralled hubby's opinion.

My Christmas cards have been dispatched, the Christmas gifts have been purchased - despite the gilets jaunes' protests - wrapped and shipped. We have hosted two Christmas dinners this weekend and tickets to the Nutcracker ballet are booked for tomorrow night's performance at the legendary Palais Garnier .... all of this when we still have a week to go before it’s Christmas.

I have never been so on top of things... feeling chuffed I took myself off to some hot yoga this morning for some meditation and sailed though the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit this afternoon for some inspiration!!!

Let the festivities begin...

Homemade arts and crafts on sale for a good cause.

Grittibänz: it definitely tastes better than it looks! ;)

Homemade Christmas cards with a Parisian touch for friends who have moved abroad!

 Gotta love those Pink flamingo gift tags my friend sent me!

Christmas tree delivered for free... what a treat!

This year's addition: una cafeteria italiana!

Swedish Tomte figurines

The things you can learn in youtube!?!

Pinterest inspiration!!!

Good old family turkey recipe

Yves Saint Laurent's office in Paris.
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