Friday, August 31, 2012

Canyoning in Ticino

Should the Blues to Bop festival be too laid back for your tastes and you prefer a little adventure why not try some canyoning?

Canyoning is a new sport discipline that consists in the descent, on foot, of impassable stretches of mountain waterways. The obstacles along the way are natural slides, shafts, and waterfalls that are crossed using ropework, jumping, sliding, or down-climbing. Canyoning is a group sport and to practice this activity it is necessary to have the right equipment. In fact, it is recommend to go always through organised sporting clubs. In Ticino it is possible to go canyoning in various areas of the region.

Please beware of the very important security regulations before you start: click here!

For more info check out the following two sites:
Ticino tourism site: or the
Swiss canyoning site:

I must admit this is not my cup of tea but I would be thrilled to hear from one of my readers who has ventured out for some canyoning! Sounds like bungy-jumping down a waterfall.... very scary!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Blues to Bop in Lugano

Why not defeat the weather and head towards the center of Lugano for an entertaining music event starting tonight?

For three days, the city center will turn into a great open-air theatre offering more than 60 hours of free, live music on 4 different stages.

The preparation of a new edition of Blues to Bop were in full swing this morning. This big musical event – unique in its genre – should bring cheer to the melancholic thought of the coming autumn.

For the 24° time the squares of the city center (Piazza della Riforma, Piazza Cioccaro, Piazza Dante, Piazzetta San Rocco) will accommodate four stages, on which about fifty musicians will perform in rotation in over forty concerts, with the possibility, at every moment, of choosing between different musical performances so as to satisfy the most varied musical preferences.

The entertainment will vary from the intimacy of the Piazzetta San Carlo, to the atmosphere of the big events which reign in the Piazza della Riforma, and not forgetting that matchless and moving occasion when gospel music finds a unique moment on the Sunday afternoon.

Blues to Bop is the only festival of its kind in Europe, so don't miss it! Click here for the programme including an introduction of all the performing artists: Blues to Bop programme.

The festival started in Tesserete last week and will be in Lugano from August 30th to September 1st, 2012. The Grand Finale will take place in Morcote on September 2nd, 2012 in Piazza Grande at 20:30.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More fun facts about Switzerland

My most popular post since October 2010 is "Fun facts about Switzerland". I have therefore decided to continue this series:

The population is 7.34 million. Swiss provinces are called “cantons.” 70% of Switzerland is covered in mountains. There are palm trees in Switzerland! The landscape ranges from 643 feet above sea level in Ascona to 15,199 feet above sea level in The Dufour Peak. They are 43 miles apart. Switzerland has more than 1,500 lakes.

You are never more than 10 miles from a lake!

You can’t turn right at a red light.

There are more banks then dentists.

Switzerland does thing differently. They have no national flower, animal or motto.

The first “Bond Girl” Ursula Andress was Swiss.

60% of Switzerland’s electricity is produced by hydroelectric power. The Swiss rail system extends some 3,100 miles. Swiss rank second behind Japan in relying on trains.

Women are expected to live 6 yrs longer than men.

In 1471, a chicken in Basel was found guilty of laying a brightly colored egg and it was burned at the stake!

It was once against the law to slam your car door! I think that is a good law! You can’t mow your lawn dressed like Elvis!

Freddy Mercury and Queen bought a recording studio on Lake Geneva. There is a statue of Freddy on the shore of Montreux!

There is also a statue of Charlie Chaplin! Charlie died there in 1977.

The song “Smoke on the Water” is about the smoke from a casino fire when Frank Zappa burned down a casino in Montreux.

The average Swiss eats 23lbs of chocolate per year compared to the 11.7lbs consumed by Americans.

James Bonds mother is Swiss.

Only one-quarter own their own homes. Most homes have bunkers, a result of the Cold War concerns of nuclear war.

Albert Einstein was working as a clerk when he proved his Theory of Relativity.

The typeface “Helvetica” was created in Switzerland.

Swiss army knives are red so they can be seen in the snow.

Every citizen is required by law to own a bomb shelter or access to one.

As a landlocked country they do very well in yachting events including the America’s Cup.

Holes in Swiss cheese are caused by carbon dioxide gas given off by the bacteria and also provided flavour and fermentation. Fondue was originally a peasant meal that used up old bread and cheese.

Arthur Conan Doyle brought skiing to Switzerland.

There are over 40 shipwrecks in Lake Geneva! Including 6 railway cars!

Switzerland has the highest consumption of soft drinks in the world!

There is only one Swiss astronaut named Claude Nicollier.

Switzerland has the most hospital beds per 1000 people. 5.8 beds.

FM radio stations are on both even and odd frequencies.

The 1'000-Swiss Francs-bill (which at an exchange rate of 1.20, equals 840 US Dollars) is the highest denomination note in the world.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back in town

After an extended period of travel I am slowly getting back into the swing of a normal day-to-day routine.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Monte Tamaro is for everybody

If you can't convince your kids to conquer the Lake Ritom and they are just plainly not interested in hiking I have a solution! Monte Tamaro. Everybody loves Monte Tamaro!

You can hike, mountain bike, climb, jump, suntan, eat, visit a church or even ride a tyrolean traverse or an Alpine roller coaster. Peaked your interest, haven't I!?!

So, for a great day's outing head to Rivera, which is easily accessible by car and public transport, a convenient cableway whisks you up to Alpe Foppa at 1,530 metres above sea-level. With its big restaurant, and the Church of S.Maria degli Angeli (designed by architect Mario Botta), Alpe Foppa is also the starting point for walks with panoramic views as well as being home to an innovative play park for kids, a Alpine-Coaster bobs, Flying Fox and a new track for Downhill fans.

The Bike Park, meeting point with snack bar and the Adventure Park are situated at the cableway’s middle station. This amazing acrobatic experience comprises 3 routes of varying degrees of difficulty suspended high among magnificent ancient beech trees.

Alpe Foppa is the starting point for many trips. You can choose form a 20 minute stroll to a three hourwalk around the area.  The Tamaro-Lema hike will take you roughly 4 1/2 hours.

If you are into mountain biking there are various downhill and freeride trails and should the Queen have inspired you during the Olympic opening ceremony you can even try paragliding to the landing site at Bironico.

For detailed information click on Monte Tamaro's site here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A hike worth undertaking: Lago Ritom

How many of you participated at the 1.August brunch last Wednesday? Did you get a taste for hiking? Or did you miss the brunch and are looking for a little mountain adventure with your kids during these hoildays? Look no further!

Lake Ritom is one of Ticino's pearls. It's not easy to get to but worth the treck! It is situated in the Val Piora with its 28 mountain lakes and is considered one of the most beautiful regions of Ticino. Lake Ritom is the largest of these lakes.

On the tour from Acquacalda over the Passo del Sole to Lake Ritom you experience a natural paradise in all its diversity. The highlight at the end of this enchanting tour is a true spectacle: From Acquacalda up to the Passo del Sole and past Cadagno Hütte to Lake Ritom, it ends at the top station of the steepest funicular railway in the world.

Here adventure hungry sightseers are truly dropped down on a cable. With a breathtaking maximum gradient of 87.8 percent the bright red cable car jerks its way down to Piotta. This almost feels like freefalling – albeit in slow motion. It is not a bad idea to enjoy the panoramic views and some of the many local delicacies in one of the Piora Valley's picturesque "Grotti" – rustic mountain restaurants – before the ride, even if just to muster some pretended courage. Perhaps in the "Capanna Cadagno", where a wonderful brasato polenta is served, garnished with the legendary local Piora cheese that is produced nowhere else but here.

At any rate, this five-hour hike does not in the least lack exclusive features. This is already evident at the beginning of the tour, where holidays in harmony with nature are on offer in the multiple award winning "Centro Ecologico" in Acquacalda below the Lukmanier Pass.

Starting point: Acquacalda
Destination: Ritom
Getting to the starting point: Bus to Acquacalda
Getting to the destination: Funicular railway from Ritom upper station
Technique: medium
Physical fitness: difficult
Length: 17km
Hiking time: 5h10
Season: June till September

If you are feeling a wee bit less active why not pack a picnic, take the cable car (built in 1921 to aid in the construction of the dam) up to Alp Piora and venture around the ten kilometer long Nature Educational Trail, before taking the cable car down again.
It will be an unforgettable experience for your whole family.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Swiss Hiking App

I thought I would share a little gadget for this month of August that might come in handy should you be looking for inspirational activities to do with your kids.

The Swiss Tourism board has launched an app called Swiss Hike. It enables you to call up 32 attractive hikes offline. Each hike comes with a general description, details of the climbs and descents, duration and difficulty together with the relevant swisstopo map extract on a scale of 1:25,000. The iPhone application also features practical information on restaurants and places to stay en route. Now how cool is that?

Happy hiking!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Happy 1.August 2012

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