Saturday, April 30, 2016

7 facts about Switzerland’s illegal immigrants

There has been a great deal of talk about illegal immigrants lately but what is the situation like in Switzerland? Did you know there were 76,000 illegal immigrants or sans-papiers living in this country in 2015?

1. Most arrive undeclared or on tourist visas
Across the country, 63% slipped over the border without declaring their presence or entered on a tourist visa. In French and Italian-speaking Switzerland this percentage rose to 78%.
A further 19% stayed on illegally after their asylum applications had been rejected, and another 18% stayed after their B or C permits expired.

2. The largest percentage comes from latin America
43% came from south and central America, mainly for economic reasons. Ecuadorians, Bolivians and Peruvians were well all represented.
The next largest group (24%) came from eastern european countries outside the European Union, then Africa (19%) and Asia (11%). North America and Australia (2%) made up the rest.

3. The vast majority are single
68% were single or lived in Switzerland while their families lived abroad. The percentage of singles rose to 80% in German-speaking Switzerland and fell to 51% in French and Italian-speaking Switzerland.

4. Most stay less than 10 years
Only 19% had lived in Switzerland for more than 10 years. Most had been in the country for between 5 and 10 years (35%), 1 and 5 years (25%) or less than 1 year (21%).

5. Most work in private homes
Across Switzerland, 53% worked for private households. This percentage rose to 71% in French and Italian-speaking Switzerland, falling to 47% in German-speaking Switzerland.
Construction (18%), hotels (16%) and agriculture (5%) employed most of the others.

6. There are more women than men
51% were women. This fits with the high number working in private homes caring for children or helping out with household chores. The percentage who were women rose to 62% in French and Italian-speaking Switzerland, regions which also showed the highest rates of undocumented private domestic workers. The report says the broken school day in Switzerland, where children come home for lunch, is a likely driver of demand for child care workers.

7. Many are well educated
While the largest group had only school education (41%) a surprising number had professional training (37%) or a tertiary qualification (22%). Those in French and Italian-speaking Switzerland appeared to be the best educated. 84% had education beyond school. In German-speaking Switzerland only 49% did.

For the entire document "Les sans-papiers en Suisse en 2015" by the Secrétariat d’Etat aux migrations (SEM) click here:

Friday, April 22, 2016

Kiss me Kate in Lugano

Still wondering what to do tonight? Or tomorrow night? Or Sunday?

Don't miss a bunch of talented kids performing this weekend at TASIS. The high school drama students are performing on of my favourite plays: Kiss me Kate!

Kiss Me, Kate is a broadly comic story of a theatrical troupe mounting a new musical based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Love triangles, gambling debts, and mistaken identities abound in this quintessential backstage show, last performed at TASIS in 2007.

Composed by Cole Porter and written by Bella and Sam Spewack, the show features what many consider to be Porter’s finest score—songs including such musical gems and now-classic standards as “So in Love,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Why Can’t You Behave?,” and, of course, “Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Venue: Kiss Me Kate drama performance
Where: TASIS, Palmer Center, Via Collina d'Oro 15, 6926 Montagnola,
Date: Friday April 22nd and Saturday, April 23rd at 19:30
Sunday, April 24th at 14:30
For more info, check here:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sleeping in the hay!

Imagine sleeping in the hay? Yes, you do not have to be a kid, actually you can experience this fun together with your kids... or even better your girlfriends... you'll be giggling into the wee hours of the night...

Farm stays and countryside holidays are on the rise as they fulfil the desire for a sustainable and nature-friendly tourism. Not only that, it's fun too! Guests can discover magnificent landscapes, taste delicious local foods and experience farm life first-hand.

The farms offer such a wide range of touristic options that you are sure to find one for your specific needs: hiking holidays, wellness, sleeping on straw, holiday apartments, dormitories, guest rooms etc.

Swiss farmers strive to offer you a healthy and authentic holiday experience. And they will go out of their way to make you feel at home.

In Ticino rural tourism is becoming a particularly interesting alternative proposition: thanks to the impetus of some pioneering firms and to promotional measures undertaken by authorities and the Ticino Farmers Union, the offer is constantly being broadened. Currently, there are around one hundred such businesses operating in Ticino.

Agritourism Switzerland came into being as a result of the merger of three organisations: Schlaf im Stroh!, Swiss Holiday Farms and, in collaboration with the Swiss Farmers' Union.

So, whether you would prefer to wake up in the morning in a bed of fragrant straw, enjoy fresh air in a mountain hut, feel right at home in a comfortable holiday apartment or follow the tracks of a variety of farm animals – the choice is yours!

Further information and addresses are available at

Monday, April 18, 2016

S'isch Sächsilüüte in Züri!

Today is possibly the time of year when I most wish I were back in my hometown of Zürich. 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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What it takes to make a home

What makes a spot feel like home? Is it because it's the place you live in, the local food you appreciate, the cultural traditions you enjoy, the location's natural beauty or does it just boil down to good friendship?

We have lived in many places and some have stuck with us more than others, to the point where the ones that have conquered a part of our hearts we still call home whereas the others we hardly ever talk about anymore.

Paris is officially our home but we also call Lugano and Madrid our home. Years ago I would have argued that one might be schizophrenic to so convincingly feel part of not just two but three communities. Today I know that not just my husband and I have created a strong bond to these places but the kids feel totally integrated in all three as well.

Of course, the fact that we regularly return to Lugano and Madrid renders the feeling of home easier. But the question remains: why do we so enjoy returning to "our homes"?

Yes, we love the local food and we travel back to Paris with our luggage full of goodies every time to cure our home sickness. Yes, we have adopted traditions from each country which we add to our rather eclectic yearly calendar of family celebrations. Yes, we do speak the local language and follow the who's who of the moment on regional TV and yes, we enjoy the natural beauty each location has to offer... but in the end...

... in the end...

... it is the human factor that makes all the difference.

Our homes resemble Grand Central Station the minute we arrive. Neighbours popping by to greet us, girl friends coming round for brunch, family friends inviting us for dinner, kids enjoying sleepovers, teenagers hanging out in the den listening to music, aquaintances catching up with us, custodians and gardeners happy to see us, the postman and the lady at the bakery intrigued by our lifestyle but appreciative of our loyalty.

Expat girl is convinced that even the cows down the road recognize her when she returns to Lugano!

It is the feeling of belonging that turns a place into a home. The consciousness of being appreciated and cherishing the good things in life such as true friendship. The demonstration of affection and the loyalty and respect that comes with it ... from both sides of the relationship.

This might sound like a cliché but I believe it is what ties us to our homes ... since ... how lonely and boring would a home be without the life and soul of human beings!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Switzerland's biggest brunch ever

Get ready for the May 1st brunch... because it's gonna be B I G!!!

The organizers of City Brunch have planned an event that will blow your mind away: to orchestrate the longest brunch table of Switzerland.

Their goal is to involve a large number of restaurant owners and producers to offer the widest variety of products, allowing everyone enjoy the good company, locals as well as tourists.

The event will take place on Sunday, May 1, 2016 along the lakeside promenade of Lugano. Ticket holders are invited to beautifully laid tables, which will be prepared near the buffet rich with typical products of the region.

However, the tickets are already sold out but you can win two tickets worth CHF 70.- by participating in the Citybrunch Instagram challenge. Publish your best brunch photo and get the most "like"s to win. Don't forget to hashtag #citybrunchlugano.

Venue: Switzerland's longest CITY BRUNCH in Lugano
Where: Riva Vincenzo Vela, 6900 Lugano
Date: Sunday, May 1st, 2016
Time: 10:30 - 15:30

The Lugano City Brunch will also be held in case of bad weather, keep posted for details. For more info write to: or click on

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Curing homesickness with Swiss music

Want some yodelling with your fondue? Here you'll find places to stream traditional Swiss music as well as songs from the newest stars of the modern music scene.

The Mx3 music portal bills itself as the intersection of Swiss music professionals, fans, festival organisers, associations and radio stations.

Curious, take a minute to visit the site ( and find the latest releases, bands, clubs, and other key points of the Swiss music scene. It works wonders for my homesickness...

Another easily accessible cure to homesickness is the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. They offer 24/7 pop, classical or jazz music – around a third of which is Swiss: Radio Swiss Pop, Radio Swiss Classic and Radio Swiss Jazz.

Here's my latest favourite Swiss tube: Apostroph's Summernacht

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Never pay for overweight suitcase again...

Every once in a while I come across a totally cool product which fits right in with my lifestyle. I do not receive any endorsement or free products, I just like to share practical tips to make life easier and more fun.

Now here is a fun suitcase named Raden. Not only does it come in funky colours it is also really smart. How many times have you had to weigh your suitcase in order to make sure easy jet would not charge you a bomb for overweight? Well, this one does it all by itself. It has an integrated scale, will also let you know its exact location so it can alert you via Bluetooth when your bag is coming down the carousel AND it has a built-in charger for your phone or tablet!

The design is rooted in all things simple, smooth and smart. The cases come complete with the latest tech-enabled features and they all connect seamlessly to their mobile app. They are super light and incredibly strong, gliding smoothly across airport terminals and city sidewalks. Oh, did I tell you it will even let you order an Uber?

Sounds enticing, doesn't it? Just take a look at their video, it is just as cool. I have not bought one myself yet but it is on my birthday wish list... in pink of course!

The only hitch? The 22-inch carry-on bag costs $295.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spanish Wine degustation in Lugano

Back from Easter holidays? Looking forward to Spring kicking in? How about a little "ambiente española" to get you started?

Join the IWCL (International Women's Club Lugano) Evening Group for a lovely event with Nerida Detains from Sixth Sense Wine. Spanish tapas will be served and you'll get a chance to taste delicious Spanish wines. Discover new taste sensations with friends and learn how your food can taste even better with the right wine combinations.

Wine from CHF 8 per glass, tapas are included.

Venue: IWCL with Sixth Sense wine by Nerida Deganis
Where: Ristorante alla Foce, Via Foce 11, 6900 Cassarate, Lugano
Date: Thursday, April 7th, 2016
Time: 19:00
For more information please contact Nerida here: or 078 748 3618

Life is too short to drink bad wine.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Walking Lugano 2016

"Walking Lugano" is one of the most important Swiss appointments for walking and Nordic walking fans. You can choose from six different itineraries (from 6.6 to 18.6 Km), all extremely attractive in terms of landscape and well-suited for all sorts of fitness levels. There are longer and more demanding itineraries for those who want to test their endurance and  “softer”, more level itineraries of just a few kilometres for others. The most original itinerary is the 8.2km “Lake and Walking” which also includes a boat trip from Lugano to Gandria.

All you need to do is choose a trail and sign up in Piazza Manzoni as of 9 am on Sunday morning. For more info click here:

Relax – 7 km
Melide – 8.2 km
Panorama – 10.7 km
Fitness – 16.2 km
Challenge – 18.7 km
Lake and Walking (with boat ride) – 8.2 km
Brè City Trail (competitive) - NEW!

And for those of you who do not feel like competing there are lots of other activities offered down town throughout the day. Just have a peak here:

Have fun and stay healthy!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Best April Fools post this year

Finally! No more confusion – Sweden and Switzerland have decided to become one. To celebrate our new national cheese, chocolate and watches, we've just sent over 5 million crates of fermented herring to our southern province. Welcome Swedenland!

For more amusement here is an article in German published by the NZZ a few years back:
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