Monday, August 3, 2015

What Americans think of Rivella

A few weeks back I posted a video about what Italians think of American candy. Well, right in time for August 1st my son sent me a video about what Americans think of his favourite Swiss drink Rivella. The reactions - in this video gone viral - to discovering what Rivella is actually made of will have you giggling. Let's just say it is an acquired taste as is the taste for American candy!

Happy Swiss National Day!
Posted by BuzzFeed on Saturday, 1 August 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

National Day 2015 greetings for the Swiss abroad

It has become kind of a tradition of mine to post the "President"'s address to the Swiss abroad otherwise known as the 1.August Speech on my blog.

President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, will give the Swiss National Day commemorative speech on the Rütli on 1 August.

The tranquil site on the southern finger of Lake Lucerne the locals call Lake Uri is nicknamed the "Cradle of the Confederation". Legend associates the meadow in the heart of Switzerland with the alliance of the three founding cantons in 1291. In 1804 the dramatist Friedrich Schiller then combined the myth of William Tell with the Rütli. And in 1860 the Swiss Society for the Public Good purchased the meadow and gave it to the Swiss confederation as an "inalienable national asset".

Should you decide to make a day's excursion out of it, here is the Rütli programme: otherwise you'll find Mrs Sommaruga's speech to the Swiss community abroad below:

Dear fellow Swiss around the world,

Today we all live in a globalised world. As Swiss living abroad, you know particularly well the meaning of globalisation.

Some of you will say: ‘Switzerland is and remains my home’. Others might say: ‘I have two homes – the country in which I live, and my country of origin, Switzerland’.

What is clear is that everyone needs a home. And by that I mean a feeling of having roots, having an identity.

In Switzerland, there is currently a heated debate about this identity. Some people claim Switzerland stands for independence, sovereignty and going it alone in Europe.

For others, Switzerland is – and always has been – an open country connected to the rest of the world through clever alliances.

Dear fellow Swiss, Switzerland is not the only country facing these issues. Globalisation means change, and changes always raise questions and launch debates.

There is, however, one aspect on which almost all Swiss agree: our direct democracy is a unique political system – and we all identify with it.

I am proud to be president of the country whose citizens have the most political power and responsibility in the world. Direct democracy is a courageous system – and that is one of the reasons why I like it and why it fascinates me.

The results of votes are often very close. The reform of the television and radio law was approved in June by a margin of only around 3,000 votes. The Swiss media wrote that the Swiss abroad had made the difference.

And yet many citizens do not bother voting because they think their vote would not make a difference. How wrong this is was shown a few weeks ago by another vote – about car park fees – in a commune in central Switzerland. There were one thousand and sixty Yes votes. And the No votes?
One thousand and sixty-one...

So in Switzerland every vote really does count.
Dear fellow Swiss, your votes count too. Today, only a quarter of Swiss who live abroad are registered to vote in Switzerland. It would make me happy to see this figure increase over the coming weeks. After all, federal elections will be held in October. If you haven’t already registered to vote, you can do so in your embassy until mid- August.

What’s more, for many of you, votes and elections will in future be easier. This year, for the first time, a majority of cantons are offering electronic voting for Swiss who live abroad. So you can see that we are committed to enabling you to take part and exercise your responsibility.

Dear fellow Swiss, I send you warmest greetings from the cabinet and wish you a wonderful August the 1st – wherever you are in the world.

Friday, July 31, 2015

1.August Celebration in Lugano

The 1st of August is day of celebration in the whole of Switzerland. Different commemorative ceremonies will take place in Lugano, culminating in the speech of a prestigious guest in the Piazza della Riforma and in a big fireworks show on the gulf.

Here is tomorrow's program:

06:00 Reveille with the Drums
10:15 Meeting of the authorities in the Patio of the Town Council
10:30 Laying of the wreath at the Monument of Independence
11:00 Concert of the Castagnola Philharmonic Orchestra in Piazza della Riforma
20:30 Meeting of the Authorities and Associations of Via Nassa
20:45 Departure of the cortege of the Authorities (Route: Via Nassa, Piazza Battaglini, Riva Vela, Rivetta Tell, Via Canova, Via degli Albrizzi, Piazza Manzoni, Piazza Riforma)
21:15 Commemorative speech
21:45 Concert in Piazza della Riforma by the Civic Philharmonic of Lugano
22:30 Grand fireworks display
23:15 Musical entertainment in the city center

Enjoy! Happy 1. August to all!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Don't miss the 1. August Brunch

Switzerland's National holiday is approaching fast.

The 1.August Brunch has become a popular activity on our National Day. For the past 22 years Swiss farmers have been inviting city dwellers (Swiss and foreign alike) for brunch on a farm. Last year over 200'000 guests enjoyed the culinary adventure offered by 350 farms throughout Switzerland. Through this movement the farmers' families wish to promote a better understanding and sympathy of local agriculture by the city population.

The 1. August Brunch is an occasion that one should not miss. Hosted by selected Swiss farms who offer you a brunch, they will provide you with the opportunity to taste different kinds of cheese, meat, milk, bread, müesli and many other gastronomic specialities in a very particular atmosphere. You'll also have the certainty to try some excellent products with high quality standard's. If you're lucky you'll enjoy some typical Swiss music, meet a Swiss celebrity, be served out of a giant Roesti frying pan or admire some amazing National costumes. The kids will love all the direct contact with the farms' animals.

Book now for a brunch in one of the farms! Click here to find a list of Ticino's participating farmers.
For a detailed guide with info such as activites, animals or produce for sale click on the following link:

My favourite so far is: Alpe Duragno at the top of Monte Tamaro. See purple trail on map.
The Agriturismo Ponte di Vello in Breno looks intriguing. My friends recommend the farms on top of Monte Generoso.

As places in the farms are limited, registration is mandatory and better done early. You can register by telephoning the farmers directly before July 30th 2013. There are still quite a few spots left as of this morning. Please communicate how many children and adults you'll be. look for a brunch place near you here:

Venue: 1.August Brunch
When: Saturday, August 1st, 2015
Time: 9:00 - 13:00
Price: CHF 20.- to 40.-
Directions: All participating farms will be signposted with the logo: «Brunch»
For more info:
Tel: 056 462 51 67 on workdays from 8:00 bis 12:00 and from 13.00 to 17:00
or  091 851 90 90 for the Ticino.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Swiss Facts that not everybody knows

August 1st is to the Swiss what July 4th is to Americans, or July 14th to the French. Swiss National Day is only just over a century old, and it was only in 1993 that the hardworking Swiss agreed that they could all take the day off, but the event it commemorates took place 700 years ago, and at the heart of the celebrations is a custom which doubtless goes back into the mists of time.

The day was chosen because August 1st, 1291 was the date on which three Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation, an act which later came to be regarded as the foundation of Switzerland. The representatives of Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri met on the Rütli field, high above Lake Lucerne, to swear a bond of brotherhood, and agree to act jointly if their freedoms were threatened by outside aggressors.

Just for fun.... I thought I'd list a few facts about Switzerland that you might wish to share with your kids. August 1st, Switzerland's National Day is right around the corner, so get you Cervelat sausages and candle lampions ready and check out the nearest bomfire to celebrate the Swiss style! ;)

Here goes the list of Swiss fun facts:

- Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity in 1905, when he was working as a patent clerk in Bern.
- Swiss Guards protect the Pope at the Vatican.
- The flag of Vatican, is the only other square flag, apart from Switzerland's.
- The flag of the Red Cross is the flag of Switzerland with the colours inverted.
- The famous pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis are based in Switzerland.
- The Swiss are world-wide leaders in private banking or asset management for individuals. UBS and Credit Suisse are among the leading banks.
- Housing is expensive, only about one-third of Swiss population live in their own house.
- The Swiss franc is among the world's most stable currencies.
- Switzerland is one of the world's largest watch manufacturers.
- Apart from luxury brands, Switzerland is also known for the world's best selling plastic watch, the Swatch.
- Victorinox, the manufacturer of the famous Swiss army knife, was founded in 1884.
- Nestlé, founded by Swiss Henri Nestle, is the biggest food company in the world.
- Switzerland has the second highest life expectancy, after Sweden
- 60% of Switzerland's electricity is produced by hydroelectric power.
- Swiss women were the last in Europe to get the vote (apart from Liechtenstein). It was only in 1971 that the male electorate agreed to allow them voting rights at federal level.
- Some 400,000 Swiss emigrated between 1850 and 1914 to North and South America, and founded Swiss colonies. Bern has 26 towns & villages named after it in the US.
- Switzerland leads the world in chocolate consumption. It is said that an average Swiss eats 23lbs of chocolate annually.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Greetings from Graubünden

Graubünden Tourism is bringing together the most hectic and most peaceful places in Switzerland via an electronic live billboard at Zurich Central Station offering to transport stressed-out city dwellers to the Graubünden village of Vrin.

A very original and personalized video is testimony to an unusual approach in tourism marketing designed to publicize Vrin, a small Swiss village with just 275 inhabitants in the canton of Graubünden.

The protagonist of the advertising is a cheerful local mountain farmer, sitting on a meadow with his laptop which connects to a panel in Zürich's main train station: there he interacts with travellers proposing to come and visit him. Should they accept, he will print and offer them the train fare.

What a brilliant, simple and low cost, but high impact idea. Would you take the day off to catch some fresh mountain air?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How would you rule Switzerland?

Ever wondered how you would rule an entire country? Here is your chance to rule Switzerland for the next 70 years... providing you speak French. Let me tell you about the first game of Swiss policy strategy called: Tabula Rasa

Before the 2015 federal elections, the objective of the Swiss Radio and Television (RTS) is to let all citizens rebuild their ideal Switzerland, and by doing this express their wishes and priorities. Tabula Rasa is a journalistic experiment and an innovation in the way to animate elections in Switzerland.

Lower the retirement age? Build new nuclear power plants? Increase subsidies in agriculture? Restrict immigration? As a Tabula Rasa player, you will hold political levers of Switzerland to make decisions in creating a country that meets your aspirations.

However, you must ensure that the created world is fully functional: it is not to be a utopia, but you are asked to make choices that will shape a Switzerland which, while reflecting its values, would be a viable state.

In a fun and accessible way, Tabula Rasa can also be used as a teaching tool to educate young people about political and economic life of their country. Sign in and see how you face Switzerland's future challenges.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A world of languages

For a very long time I have been wondering what the most spoken language in the world might be and how this would relate to the other top spoken language across the globe but I was too lazy to do any research. Well, here is my answer nicely packaged in an infogram thanks to Alberto Lucas Lopez who created this interesting breakdown for the South China Morning Post. The world has truly become a village.

Around the world there are a total of 7,102 known languages, of this gargantuan amount twenty-three remain popular enough to be considered the most spoken languages of the world.

These 23 languages are considered the mother tongue for more than 50 million people and the native tongue for more than 4.1 billion people. To put this into perspective there are currently around 7.2 billion people living on planet earth.

The circle represents the 4.1 billion people around the world that speak one of the 23 most spoken languages. The graphic further breaks down these numbers by the amount of people that speak a given language according to country.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Switzerland's Cupcake café online

Swiss National Day is around the corner and Back-Art have a great range of Swiss themed products, including these cool cookie cutters, toppings and cupcake cases.

Back-Art have been actively promoting creativity and art in baking and cake decorating since 2005. 10 years ago in Switzerland cupcakes were known as a type of muffin; food colouring was usually in thin liquid form; edible decorations on celebration cakes were often just a few icing flowers, Gummi bears or Smarties. Roll-out icing was only available in large buckets to professional confectioners and bakers. Cookie cutter shapes were limited and usually only found during the traditional baking season from October to December.

Enter who saw no reason why professional quality ingredients and cake decorating equipment could not be made readily available to private households. They pioneered the introduction of home cake decorating in Switzerland. Thanks to the 2006 Football World Cup this little company received a considerable breakthrough in their brand awareness; the press caught wind of Back-Art and their football themed products were all the rage.

In 2013 they even opened up a showroom in Zurich. So, pop by or send them a message anytime. They love to hear of our reasons for baking and are happy to share tips and tricks to ensure your project is a success!

In the meantime, happy baking in preparation for August 1st, Switzerland's National Day.

Friday, July 17, 2015

How to be a Gentleman

My kids mean the world to me. That does not mean they can get away with anything and everything. Far from...I'd like to think they received a very Swiss upbringing. The saying goes: "The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence."

A gentleman is what I'd like to think my teenage son is turning into:

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