Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Celebrating the opening of the world’s longest railway tunnel: the Gotthard!

Tomorrow, on 1st June 2016, 17 years after the first blast in the main shaft, the world’s longest railway tunnel will officially open.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, Switzerland will invite guests of honour from Switzerland and abroad to the opening event and welcome the entire population for an unforgettable public festival.

An opening ceremony befitting the grand scale of the project will present Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability to the world. During the following weekend on 4 and 5 June 2016, the anticipated 50,000 to 100,000 visitors will be offered a unique programme at the festival sites on either end of the 57-kilometre tunnel.

The highlights of the festival: tunnel rides with the Gotthard shuttle train at up to 200 km/h, presentations by Swiss artists and an interactive multimedia exhibition on the Gotthard.

On 4 and 5 June, the Swiss will be celebrating the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel – the world’s longest railway tunnel measuring 57 kilometres – at four different festival sites around the tunnel entrances.

The celebrations will be held at Erstfeld and Rynächt in the north and Pollegio and Biasca in the south. Admission to the festival sites is free, but you will need a ticket for the journeys through the tunnel on the Gottardo shuttle trains.

Be a part of this historic event and secure tickets for the Gottardo shuttle trains at www.sbb.ch/ticketshop or from the usual SBB sales points.

The special ticket, which includes the Gottardo shuttle train, is available as a round trip ticket and is valid from your home town. Before buying your tickets, you need to choose one of the routes. If you want to visit the festival sites in the south first and then travel north on the Gottardo shuttle train, choose the ticket option “Public transport ticket including south–north Gottardo shuttle train”, but if you want to start your round trip in the north and travel south on the Gottardo shuttle train, choose the option “Public transport ticket north–south”. It is only possible to travel through the Gotthard Base Tunnel in one direction; you must continue your journey via the Gotthard mountain route. Tickets are valid for one day.

Click here for the detailed programme with all the information about the festival and accompanying attractions, the Gottardo shuttles and how to get there and back.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Yodel like a Swiss

So, have you ever wondered what a REAL yodel sounds like?

Yodeling, a vocal technique that involves a variety of drawn-out pitches formed in the head and chest registers, was the perfect way to bring cows together in what sheepherders called kuhreihen, or "line of cows". The earliest record of the distinctive call was written in 1545 in Appenzell, a region in northeastern Switzerland.

Many listeners don't realize that those prolonged oooooohs and uuuuuuuuhs usually tell a story, often about nature, love, or folk tales that link back to Switzerland. Lyrics to these “yodel songs” are typically in French or Swiss German.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Change of Address checklist

T'is the time of year... when Expats start saying their farewells and pack up to move around the globe.

When you change your address, you can get your mail forwarded for a little while... if you are lucky, but you’ll propably need to let a lot of places know the old-fashioned way, i.e. manually.

Some may be as simple as changing your address online, others may require forms mailed in. Also, keep in mind that some places that charge you monthly payments may not be able to do so if you change your address at your banking institution, as address information is sometimes used to authenticate your card usage.

And just for your info, even Betty Bossi's recipe magazines can be sent abroad. I had my subscription sent all the way to Argentina for two years. ;)

To make all of this simpler, you'll find this handy checklist that I have come across today. Click here for a printable version.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cantine Aperte: an open wine cellar weekend

Do you like a glass of wine with your meal? I do! Well, we are in for a passionate weekend...

Ticinowine, the Foundation for the promotion of Viticulture in Ticino, is organizing "Cantine Aperte" (Open Wineries), now at its 18th edition, with the aim of bringing the general public's attention to a sector that, thanks to its vitality, is gaining great interest. Well over 65 wineries will be participating in Cantine Aperte 2016.

For two days visitors will get the chance of crossing the threshold of important wineries that, in many cases, are true architectural gems. Here tradition and technology, combined with the skills and professionalism of the winemakers, allows the Ticino area to obtain a level of excellence in both the Swiss and international scenes.

Become familiar with the makers and their secrets, succumb to the passion that they put into producing quality wines, wines with labels that have raised Canton Ticino to land of oenological excellence.

The highly anticipated event should be the perfect mix of fun, thrills and exploration. My personal favourite would be la Tenuta Bally (http://www.tenutabally.ch). Tell me yours! ;)

Venue: "Cantine Aperte" (Open Wineries)
Where: Find a winery near you here: http://www.ticinowine.ch/uploads/PDF/Locandina
Date: Saturday 28th and Sunday, May 29, 2016
Time: 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.

Here you will find the complete and detailed schedule of the participating wineries, days and opening hours, side events and the opportunity to participate in the evening entertainment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Swiss facts & figures

Once in a while it is good to stand back and reflect. Today I am taking a look at Switzerland and its society.

Did you know that the resident population of Switzerland has risen from 3.3 million in 1900 to 8.1 million today?

The main driver of demographic growth in Switzerland over the last few decades has been migration. At the same time, Swiss towns and cities have seen an influx of people from rural parts of the country.

Here are some more facts:
- In 2012, the resident population grew by 1.1%.
- At 23.3%, Switzerland has one of the highest shares of foreigners in Europe. The resident foreign population currently stands at 1.87 million.
- The share of the population living in urban centres has risen from 36% in 1930 to 73.7% today.
- The Swiss population has aged considerably over the course of the 20th century. The share of over-64s has risen from 5.8% in 1900 to 17.2% today.
- There are marginally more women than men in Switzerland. Currently, women make up 50.7% of the total population.
- The average fertility rate in Switzerland is 1.5 children per woman.
- The Swiss have one of the highest life expectancies in the world: 80.5 years for men and 84.8 years for women.
- The average age at which the Swiss first marry continues to rise – from 26.5 years for men and 24.1 years for women in 1970 to 31.8 years and 29.5 years today.

For more info go to www.aboutswitzerland.org

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's Neighbours' Day on May 20th

On May 20th, 2016 Switzerland joins the Neighbors' Day celebration. It is a very simple initiative that aims to promote a culture of solidarity within the neighbourhood to fight the typical isolation of today's contemporary lifestyle.

Celebrated on Friday May 20th 2016 by several million people in Europe, Neighbours' Day has enjoyed cross-continental success. This year, Neighbours Day is supported by more than 1 200 partners (city councils, housing organizations and local associations) in over 30 countries! The participants have reached 10 million!

Lugano joined this initiative in 2004 for the first time and over the years, citizens' actions have increased exponentially. To date, several hundred people participate with enthusiasm at this annual event. Founded 1999 in Paris by Mr.Atanase Périfan, the Neighbours' Day encountered an immediate success and has been growing ever since.

So why not organize an informal party and invite your neighbours! A simple gesture that can help strengthen the network of solidarity to overcome the distrust and the impoverishment of social relations.

The principle is straight forward: people of the same building or within the same neighbourhood gather on the evening of May 20th, to eat something together, have a drink, exchange a few words and get to know eachother better. An easy way to create solidarity or simply find opportunities to be together.

Three good reasons to join the party:
1. Get to know and appreciate your neighbour!
2. Unity is strength ... and makes life easier
3. A name, a face, a story...

Check your mailbox for the pre-printed invitation pack, click here or e-mail: vicini@lugano.ch or phone: Tel. 058 866 74 57.

You can also check out my Swiss neighbourhood rules before you embark on your adventure! Most importantly: don't forget to have fun! Remember the Swiss can be fun, just give them a chance. ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A book to help your kids with the move

For those of you who are moving ... yes, t'is the time of season again ... I have come across a lovely book about global "nomad" families called B at Home by Valerie Besanceney. It is a story that will help children and their parents (and stuffed animals!) with any transition or move.

Emma is only ten years old, but has already moved twice. Now, her parents are telling her the family is moving again. She's furious, sad, nervous, and a little excited, all at the same time. Unsure of how to tackle these conflicting emotions, she turns to B, her faithful teddy bear. While trying to come to terms with the challenges of another move, what Emma really wants is just to 'be at home'. As the journeys of Emma and B unfold, home changes once again, but home also begins to take on a new meaning that Emma can take with her wherever she goes. 

Buona lettura!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Discover Switzerland's Snack-Box

You might have heard of the Grand Tour of Switzerland where you get to discover Switzerland’s most attractive regions. The route, which covers approximately 1,600 kilometres, will take you over 5 Alpine passes, along 22 lakes and to 11 UNESCO World Heritage properties, showing you just how varied, diverse and spectacular our country is – in terms of landscape, culture and cuisine.

But have you ever heard of the Grand Tour Snack-Box? The Grand Tour of Switzerland won’t just show you Switzerland’s most beautiful side; it’s also a culinary journey of discovery. Thanks to the variety of specialty dishes waiting for you in every part of the country and thanks to the Grand Tour Snack Box with tempting regional treats.

So when you feel a little peckish all you need is to buy the Snack-Box for CHF 25.– from any of the 25 official sales outlets on the Grand Tour. You can top up your Snack-Box repeatedly with snacks from the region at other sales outlets for CHF 20.- (refills for two people).

So go ahead and experience the culinary diversity of Switzerland.
Here are the facts about the Grand Tour: www.myswitzerland.com and here you'll find the details on the Snack Box: Sales Outlets

Bon voyage – and bon appetit!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

America Day at Franklin University

Listen up Americans in and around Lugano: you might be interested in the upcoming AMERICA DAY held at Franklin University on May 25th. Starting at 17:30, the U. S. Embassy invites you to a Q & A meeting session where the Honorable Suzan G. LeVine, US. Ambassador to Switzerland, will answer questions, followed by Voter Registration and Consular services from 19:00-20:00. A unique opportunity!

You can have documents notarized, passports renewed, birth applications processed etc. No appointments necessary and visitors will be seen on a first come-first served basis. Fees for consular services will be payable in cash only.

Venue: America Day
Where: Franklin University Switzerland, Via Ponte Tresa 29, 6930 Sorengo
Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Summer Camps in Lugano 2016

Ready, Set, Go! Now is the time to register your kids for summer camps. Following are some ideas.

The most common one is Vivi Lugano. A programme offered by the city of Lugano in your neighbourhood community. The activities are in Italian: Vivi Lugano.

The most famous English-speaking Summer Camp must be the Amercian School in Switzerland called Tasis: www.summer.tasis.com. This is their very inviting catalogue. However, this might not be what you are looking for.

The most comprehensive list is complied every year by Ticino per Bambini. If it is not on the list it doesn't exist! Take your time and wade through their site. You are sure to find something: www.ticinoperbambini.ch.

Another option is the wildlife summer camps with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Hurry, these camps are very popluar and fill up fast. The site link is: www.wwf.ch/it/attivi.
Click here for the detailed brochure.

More Sport Kids Week Summer camp in Tenero: http://moresport.ch.

Sports oriented camps are organized by the A-Club in Savosa. The Fitness & Swim Club offers a varied summer programme every year, although it is in Italian, there are usually a few foreigners who participate.This is their link: http://www.a-club.ch.
Click here for the detailed brochure.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Do you have Expat DNA?

Ever wondered what makes a great Expat? Well, here you'll find a break down of the Expat DNA:

What makes a great Expat:
- The ability to adapt to change – being flexible
- Keeping an open mind on the people and cultures you encounter
- Learning & speaking the local language
- Living, eating and going about life like the locals do and enjoying it
- Keen to observe and absorb the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that the world has to offer
- Open to new experiences and learning something new every day

Bad expat DNA:
- Doesn’t stop complaining (Language is too hard, people are too rude or different)
- Prefers to mingle only with expats who are similar to themselves
- Doesn't make an effort to try the local foods or adhere to local customs
- Leads his/her life like in the home country: resistant to change
- Gets homesick at the first thought of his/her home country

Irrelevant DNA:
- Being a well travelled individual has no bearing on being an Expat. First time Expats have just as much fun.
- Having a high paying job – not a prerequisite to leading a fun and happy Expat life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Int'l School of Ticino Open Days

The International School of Ticino (IST) opened in September 2014 in its new state-of-the-art premises in Lamone. The school aims to provide international and local families with a truly international education. To foster a better understanding of the school’s philosophy and learning environment, both current and prospective members of the school community are invited to attend their Open Days.

During the next Open Days on Thursday 12th May 2016, from 9:00am to 3:00pm IST classrooms are open to prospective parents to visit the school, observe part of a lesson delivered by their dynamic mother-tongue teachers and talk to the staff. Prospective parents can either book a specific time to visit or come in at any time during the Open Day hours.

Don't hesitate to contact them directly if you would like to schedule a visit on a different day. Every day is Open Day at IST!

Venue: International School Ticino Open Day
Where: Via Girella 4, 6814 Lamine
When: Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Time: 9:00 to 15:00
Contact the school office at 0919710344 or email info@isticino.com for more information.

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