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:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Open casting in Locarno

Are you around tomorrow? Interested in a casting call in Ticino? Willing to explore a gender-fluid topic? Then listen up:

The Swiss-Canadian duo Florian Halbedl and Joshua M. Ferguson are holding an open casting for their new film project on July 17th in Locarno.

The short film entitled Limina will be filmed in the canton of Ticino in September after the production company raised sufficient funds partly through crowdfunding platform indiegogo.

Switzerland’s alpine ski racer and Olympic gold medalist, Dominique Gisin, is an associate producer on the film. The filmmakers describe Limina as being about a ‘gender-fluid’ child with a deep curiosity about the lives of the inhabitants of a small picturesque town. The Ticino municipality of Lavertezzo has been chosen to represent the fictional town.

The open casting is taking place with the support of the Ticino Film Commission. The production company issued the call via Twitter.

Actors are required for a number of roles, including that of main character Alessandra, a child aged eight or nine.

Those interested are asked to send a digital copy of a headshot to by July 16th.

Based in Vancouver, the award-winning independent filmmakers operate under the Turbid Lake Pictures banner. Their last short film project, Whispers of Life, screened around the world, winning a number of awards and being nominated for the Directors Guild of Canada Best Short Film 2014 award.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tips for moving with kids

Moving from one destination to another is not easy for us adults, imagine what effect it has on our kids. Make sure you involve them in the process.

Here are some helpful ideas that can help ensure a smooth and happy relocation:

1.) Before the move
Together with your child, learn about the new place you will be living and what to expect. Read books, look on the internet or contact the tourist board of your new country. It is very important for children to be able to say a proper goodbye to one place before arriving in another; in fact, many people feel that if you don’t say goodbye properly you’ll start off on the wrong foot in the next location.

2.) When you arrive
When arriving in a new country, be sure to help your child settle in quickly. Making friends is often the most pressing issue for a child. So be proactive and invite the neighbours’ kids over to play or arrange for a classmate to come over after school. Maintain strong ties to your home country. Keeping in contact with friends and family through letters, email and parcels or other items is a great idea. Preserve the festivals and special occasions you had back home – and share these things with your new host countrymen. Keep traditions in your own family alive by maintaining routines.

3.) Going back home or moving again
Make sure you keep items that represent your time in the country you are leaving, to remember it by. Keep photos, jot down memories, keep postcards and other information on what you visited and saw in your new country in a scrapbook. Look back at the places you have lived, including your home culture regularly. Ensure that you allow a time for sadness and sorrow, but with the happy expectations of a new adventure to come.

When returning back home to live, remember you and your child will have changed and grown in many ways. Be prepared for “reverse culture shock”, where your child may complain no one understands them and how they feel. You can help your child by being available for talks, remembering the places you’ve been and discussing your feelings about coming home.

Friday, July 10, 2015

An unforgettable hiking experience: Ritom Lake

Still looking for a day's outing to enjoy the views and get some fresh air? The Ritom lake is an absolute must-see if you live in the Ticino.

A whole bunch of beautiful mountain lakes – remnants of the last ice age – are scattered throughout the Piora tableland high above Leventina. The largest of them the bluish-green waters of the Ritom lake, which lies at solely a half-hour’s hike from the mountain station of the amazingly steep funicular railway. Here a small gravel path leads firstly to the western end of the lake, and then along the northern shore to Cadagno di Fuori.

Next in line is the Alpe di Piora, reached from here either directly or via a delightful looping trail that runs through the moorland landscape surrounding the Lago Cadagno lake. The delicious Piora alpine cheese is made on this Alp of the same name - and is known to be one of Switzerland’s most refined and sought-after delicacies. From the Capanna Cadagno hut the route leads through a small arc to the opposite side of the valley and then slightly upwards via Fontanella to the highest point of the tour, close to the Forca Pass. Having had your fill of fantastic views to the depths of the Ritom lake and upper Leventina, you then make your way back to the Piora mountain station.

Here is the map:

Starting point: Funicolare Ritom, 6775 Ambrì, Ticino
Destination: Piotta/Piora
Getting to the start: Bus or car to Piotta, then funicular rail to Piora
Technical challenge: easy
Physical challenge: medium
Length: 12 km
Hiking time: 4 hours
For more info:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Putting countries' sizes into perspective

Most maps you see are based on the "Mercator projection," so named for Gerardus Mercator, who came up with it in 1559. The Mercator projection is excellent for sailing, as it shows constant bearing as a straight line. But it’s terrible for estimating the size of large masses of land — particularly when they’re close to poles. 

Under the Mercator projection, for instance, Africa looks to be about the same size as Greenland; it’s actually 14 times larger. The Economist - building on work by Kai Krause - made this graphic showing Africa’s true size: bigger than not just Greenland but China, the United States, India, and Western Europe put together.

Africa is much bigger than you think... just take a look. And guess what? Switzerland is still at the heart of it all! ;)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A challenging hike on the Gotthard Pass

Looking for a place with a view? Beware, it is also a bit of a challenge.

The ridge path from the Gotthard Pass to the Bedretto valley is outstanding and has wonderful views onto the Tessin mountain world. The panorama ranges from Val Piora to the Cristallina region. The old Gotthardpass road, which winds its way in numerous curves up the Tremola ravine, is also impressive. A perfect getaway for hot, sweltering summer days. the hiking time is about 4 hours, however, it is an experience you won't forget.

The hike begins at Gotthard Pass and leads first of all along the main road, going South. The view into Tremola ravine is most impressive during the stretch along the road gallery. At the end of the gallery there is an ascent to Strade dei Banchi. After Costoni di Fieud, views of Leventina and Val Bedretto become visible. The ridge path leads past the alpine pastures of Pian Secco and Fibbia before it reaches its highest point at the alpine hut Rosso di fuori. The valley of Bedretto with its charming villages lies far below. The descent winds its way via Alpe di Vinei and Alpe di Cavanne down to Ronco.

Technical information
Begin of tour: Gotthard Hospiz bus stop
Access starting point: Journey from Airolo to Gotthard Pass by postal bus
Point of arrival: Ronco bus stop
Access point of arrival: Return trip by bus from Ronco
Hiking time: 4 h
Physical fitness: challenging
Difficulty: medium difficulty
Difference in elevation: 720 m

Here's the map:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Articles I like about Expat life on Pinterest

Pinterest is a beautiful tool to gather all your recipes, deco ideas, printable websites and favourite articles. When I come across an article about a subject I am passionate about I pin it on my designated "Articles I like ...." board. Check out the Expat articles I have collected over the past months:

Discover some facts on TCK here:

Happy Sunday Reading

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day

Happy 4th of July to all my American readers.

These bright and delicious fruit skewers were inspired by the American flag and are super easy to make. Try the simple recipe below to make a patriotic treat perfect for Independence Day.

12 wooden bamboo skewers
1 pound strawberries
6 ounces blueberries
3 bananas
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (or orange juice)

1.) Rinse and dry berries. Chop the stems off strawberries, then cut into halves from stem to point. Cut the point off strawberries and set aside.
2.) Slice bananas and set aside.
3.) In a bowl, mix water and lemon juice, then place banana slices in lemon water and coat both sides to prevent browning.
4.) Starting with the blueberries, skewer about six on top and alternate between two banana slices and one strawberry slice until you reach the end.
5.) Place on a platter and keep refrigerated until serving.
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