Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weekend Plans for May 1st

Are you up for some exploring but don't really know where to start? Following is a short list of fun activities you can enjoy with your kids. Beware to check the traffic situation before you leave though. The long weekend of May 1st can be tricky.

Monte Tamaro - From 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 Lugano Lido - The Lugano Lido offers the visitor numerous opportunities: a wonderful fine sandy beach on the shores of Lake Ceresio, heated Olympic swimming pool, a medium size swimming pool, a diving pool with trampolines up to 10 m high, a pool suitable for children with water games, a beach volley court and a five-a-side football pitch. Make sure you don't miss the traditional ice cream treat on May 1st.

The Olive Tree Trail - Park the car on Via Cortivo in Castagnola and just follow the green olive signs to reach the Sentiero dell’Olivo. As much an historic path as olive trail, the Sentiero dell’Olivo at times meanders underneath houses, through a private terrace, and along cobbled lanes. You’ll pass San Rocco, a 17th century church with a ornate baroque interior topped with a late-medieval style belfry. You can take a pram and kids bikes most of the way and then lock them up with a bike lock when you get to the stairs as you near Gandria. Make sure to plan time for a scenic lunch along the lakeside.

Cannobio Sunday market (in Italy, 50mins from Lugano) - The largest market in this area is the Sunday morning market on the Promenade in Cannobio, east of Stresa and only a few kilometres from the border with Switzerland. One side of the market has the usual assortment of leather goods, jewellery, and linens. The other side is a tremendous food market, featuring local vendors of meats, wines, cheeses, sweets, and so much more. Many offer free samples of their food.

Pombia Safari Zoo (in Italy, 1hr15mins away) - is a Safari park, zoo and amusement park in Pombia, Piedmont, northern Italy, created by Angelo Lombardi in 1976 extending over an area of 400.000 square metres. You can take a trip around by train or with your own car. An ideal outing for families with children.

Enjoy and let me know how it went!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The day after...

So the burning of the Sächsilüüte Böögg in Zürich yesterday took only 7 minutes and 23 seconds, the third fastest time since 1980. Does this mean we'll have a wonderful summer? Unfortunately, it was thanks to a lot accelerant of the wet Böögg, that it survived only a short time at the stake, but who's checking? Also, experience has shown that the prophecy - the faster the head of the giant fake snowman explodes the longer the summer - is mostly wrong.
Zürich's Böögg before and after!
In the meantime, you can check the weather in every corner of Switzerland with this handy and reliable app: MeteoSwiss

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sächsilüüte is today!

Today is possibly the time of year when I most wish I were back in my hometown. Today is Sächsilüüte. It is celebrated every year on the third Monday of April. To foreigners it might seem weird that a bunch of Swiss dress up as knights to ride around a bonfire with a fake snowman on top but to me it is a big part of my childhood memories and, of course, Zürich's tradition.

The roots of the festival go back to medieval times when the first day of summer working hours was celebrated in the guildhalls across the city. City ordinances strictly regulated the length of the working day in that era. During the winter semester the workday in all workshops lasted as long as there was daylight, but during the summer semester the law proclaimed that work must cease when the church bells tolled at six o'clock. Sächsilüüte is a Swiss German word that literally translates into "The six o'clock ringing of the bells". Changing to summer working hours traditionally was a joyous occasion because it marked the beginning of the season where people had some non-working daylight hours.

Following a very colourful afternoon parade of the 26 Zünft (guilds) in their historic dress costumes, each with its own band, most with a sizeable mounted knights, and horse drawn floats, the climax of the celebration is the burning of winter in effigy, in the form of the Böögg, a figure of a snowman prepared with explosives.

The custom of burning the Böögg predates the Sechsilüüte. Popular tradition has it that the time between the lighting of the pyre and the explosion of the Böögg`s head is indicative of the coming summer: a quick explosion promises a warm, sunny summer, a drawn-out burning a cold and rainy one.

So, turn on the TV (SFR1) today at 6pm sharp and watch the Böögg burn. Your kids will love it.

On 14 April 2008, heavy rains soaked the Böögg and the wood pyre materials so much that the firemen had to spray the bonfire with kerosene or fuel oil after initial ignition, in addition to 15 liters of fire accelerant, which was initially thrown on the pyre. It took 26:01 minutes for the Bööggs head to explode. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Smile, you're on TV!

You might have grown up with the Cosby Show and are already smiling while you read this. For those of you who have not seen the family series from the 80s which almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre in the US, the following video will give you a taste of how TV used to be made, before everyone went politically correct. The latest crop just doesn’t compare to how they did it back then.

This episode was about the question of equality in relationships. The following video explains it better than a thousand words. Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My morning jog through the hills of Lugano

While preparing myself for this Sunday's Walking Lugano, I thought I'd take you with me on my morning run. What more can one ask for: breathtaking scenery, crispy fresh air, bright sunshine and tranquil surroundings. Welcome to my life in Lugano.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Walking Lugano 2014

Get ready for next Sunday's event. Walking Lugano is one of the Ticino's highlights for lovers of walking and Nordic walking. There are five routes (5 to 18 km) which guarantee breathtaking views, attractive landscapes and are suitable for all fitness levels: from those who want to test themselves on the longer and more challenging tracks to those who prefer to opt for a "soft" path and a few flat kilometres. The original route is the 5km "Lake and Walking" which also includes a section by boat from Lugano to Gandria.

You can either register online or sign-up directly ar Piazza Manzoni on Saturday, April 26th from 15.00 to 17.00 or Sunday, April 27th, 2014 at 9:00.

Following are some indications of the time of the walk:

Lake & walking - 5km
50 min. (from Gandria)

Relax - 6.6 km
1h 05 min.

Panorama - 10.6 km
1h 40 min.

Fitness - 15.6 km
2h 30 min.

Challenge - 18.6 km
3h 10 min.

To end the party with a bang, you can join the fun at Piazza Riforma and Piazza Manzoni where you'll find various stands, entertainment, a dining area (in Piazza Rezzonico) and live entertainment on stage during the afternoon. For more info:

Make the most of Lugano's programme to be healthy and spend a day in movement and smiling with the whole family!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter from the Ticino

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter in Lugano

No matter if you are in town as a visitor or have decided to have a staycation in Lugano, don't miss all the action going on down town this coming Easter weekend.

Join the festive atmosphere of "Pasqua in Città" (Easter in the City) and explore the numerous intriguing and entertaining activities for young and old.

Every day from Friday, April 18th to Monday, April 21st starting at 11 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. each of the main city squares will be hosting a different entertainment programme. The public will have the opportunity of purchasing many local products in the over 100 stalls that will be set up in Piazza Riforma, Via Nassa, Piazza Dante, Via Pessina and Via Soave.

Pasqua in Città will transform the city centre into a fun and amusing stage with the help of Street Animations.

You'll even find a “Rabbit’s Den” in Piazza della Riforma dedicated to children which will feature children’s make-up artists, egg painting activities, Henne tatoos and a ludobus. During the whole event, three funny rabbits will be distributing sweet little chocolate eggs.

Sounds like an event that is not to be missed. Let's just hope the weather keeps up!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Back to the future in Lugano

Remember the movie "Back to the future"?  You can now go back in time without jumping aboard a DeLorean at 88 miles per hour.

LugaNow is the easiest way to take a look at the past of Lugano. This app was born in February 2012, when Loris Trotti and Ramon Montanes-Rossi sought a way to unite their individual talents in a new project that was both useful and capable of capturing the imagination of a large segment of the public.

The most logical solution was to pair Trotti’s background in history and literature with the expertise of Montanes in the areas of graphics and technology. They came up with the concept of a historical encyclopaedia contained in a smartphone: and thus the app LugaNow came into being, a time machine with which one can take a peek into the past or the future of Lugano.

The images displayed in augmented reality are not fictitious but authentic photographs and old postcards, for most kindly made ​​available by Jansonius Art Gallery.

Check it out for yourself right here:

Monday, April 7, 2014

A really special sleepover

As much fun as a sleepover at home is, there’s always the option to take it one step further. From putting up a tent in the garden to actually sleeping in a barn!

The "Schlaf im Stroh" Association presents bed and breakfast accommodation on farms where you literally sleep in straw! They offer adventures of a very special kind – perfect for the spring or summer holidays or just for the weekend.

The farming families participating in this programme meet the quality standards set by the association and are permitted to use the protected "Schlaf im Stroh" trademark. The host farms are inspected on a regular basis. Each has something unique to offer.

You choose a farm in the region of your choice and book your "sleep in straw" experience directly with the host family. You bring your sleeping bag; blankets are provided by the hosts. Many of them also offer pillows.

Ask your hosts about any additional services and facilities they offer, such as additional meals, recreational activities and so forth.

Sleeping in straw as a group is great fun as well. I dare admit, we organised a hen night in the straw a few years back. It felt like being a kid again. We giggled and chatted all night long! Go ahead and experience a truly unforgettable night with your family or friends.

Accommodation/night including breakfast range from CHF 20.- to 30.- for adults and CHF 10.- to 15.- for kids up to 15 years.

Click here to see the 2014 catalogue:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do you speak Swiss German?

„Do you speak Swiss German?“

Just a few foreigners will answer this question with “yes”. Most of the people visiting Switzerland are impressed by the Swiss linguistic diversity. Switzerland combines four official languages in one small country: French, Italian, Romansh - and Swiss German. This special dialect which is spoken in the German areas of Switzerland, is a curiosity to many visitors. Even if you are able to understand German you will not necessarily be able to keep up when Swiss people talk to each other.

The app “Grüezi Switzerland” is the first mobile travel guide for Switzerland including a Swiss German language guide for the major Swiss German dialects. So the communication can work right from the beginning, or at least you can give it a try if you feel like it.

Shopping & Dining Guide: The app offers a lot more. You can find your favorite brand with a brand finder, with lists in shopping and dining.

Top attractions: The app also offers top attractions for the most popular destinations. A special feature is a list of webcams that provide a virtual insight in real time for every attraction.

My Postcard: an easy-to-use smartphone service for mailing to your friends and family. A postcard service that allows you to send personalized postcards through your smartphone. Your picture and greetings will be transmitted to a printer, which prints the cards and guarantees the shipment.

This app is an all-inclusive package for travellers, new residents, and all those who want to become Swiss. You can download the app here. So go ahead, find out more about typical Swiss events, Swiss kitchen and other curiosities of Switzerland... and give it your best shot when speaking Swiss German!

Should you already master the magical Swiss German, why not test yourself with the Dialäkt App?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy pranks for April Fool's Day

April Fools’ practical jokes, tricks and pranks should be done in good fun and not meant to harm anyone. The best jokes, tricks and pranks are the clever ones where everyone laughs, especially the person who had the joke played on them.

1. Scrape the cream out of oreo cookies and fill them with white toothpaste!.
2. Put cereal and milk and spoon in the bowl and then put in the freezer before you go to bed. Set it out for them in the morning.
3. Add food coloring to milk that comes in a cardboard container.
4. Superglue some coins to the sidewalk or any spot that has a lot of people walking around. Make sure it’s an appropriate place, then watch people break fingernails to get the coins.
5. Fill a glass with water. Add food dye so it matches the color of whatever juice you have in your refrigerator. Serve the “juice” to your family. They will be expecting something sweet and getting water so it will taste funny at first. Don’t forget to watch the funny faces they make!
6. Borrow someone’s cell phone and change the language setting to a foreign language.
7. Tape a bike horn behind the door, squishy side in – so the door slams into the horn.  They will jump when the door “honks” at them.
8. Bring multiple sets of clothes to work/school, change every hour, and act like nothing’s different.
9. Take the door knob off a door and put it back on backwards, then lock it and leave the door open.
10. Tape magnets to the bottom of a cup, put it on the roof of your car and drive around.
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