Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Living the good life

Switzerland is a highly developed expat destination in the heart of Europe, with a strong economy and a reputation for excellent living standards.

The country’s affinity for trade and finance has defined its history, making it a diverse and prosperous crossroads of nations. Beyond its cities there’s beautiful countryside with breath-taking scenery that includes the majestic Alps.

Stepping into the unknown can be a big leap. The experiences of other expats can help guide you on your journey. A great source of tips and info about moving to Switzerland is provided by HSBC country guide.

Click here and jump right in: expatexplorer.hsbc.com/country-guides/switzerland

Following are three top tips by Expat Explorer Survey respondents: 

“Take advantage of the excellent local state schools which offer intensive language lessons for expat children for free. Young children learn languages very quickly when given support.”

“Learn skiing... it is the best way to enjoy winter time! Summer time is great with many open air festivals and activities by the lake. It may look as a quiet country but there is lots of things happening... you will figure out in time.”

“If moving to the Italian part, the process of obtaining work permit might be a little more complex than elsewhere. It is also difficult finding information if you do not speak Italian, since everything tends to be in Italian only. The people are very friendly and welcoming here and the nature is just amazing.”

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Raspberry Gazpacho recipe

It is rare that I find a recipe that just blows me away... yes, I do have a separate Expat with Kids recipe blog just in case you were wondering... but during my last visit to Madrid I discovered a raspberry gazpacho so delicious that I decided to recreate it for last night's dinner guests. It passed the test with our Spanish-French-German-Italian-American crowd so I figure it is good enough to blog about!

Silky, refreshing with just a hint of spice this Mediterranean soup is perfect for summer entertaining. Fresh, textured, light, and so delicious, the frozen raspberries are the hero of this dish, providing a bit of sweetness and tartness that balances perfectly with the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

Add a little Mediterranean touch to your family menu this week and don't tell anyone it is the fastest, easiest meal to serve... just through all the ingredients in a blender et voilà!

1 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, plus some fresh ones for garnish
3 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped red bell pepper, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup white onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup peeled and seeded cucumber, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (can sub lemon juice)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 slices bread, toasted and cubed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)

1.) Put the frozen raspberries, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, cucumber, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender. Process until smooth, adding up to 1/3 cup water if necessary. (Work in batches if not all the ingredients fit in your blender at once.)
2.) Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving for best flavor.
3.) To serve, toss the bread crumbs, a few fresh raspberries, chopped bell pepper and cucumber together with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Divide the gazpacho among 4 bowls and garnish with the bread mixture.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ride the Alps

We all know Swiss roads head through breath-taking mountains and over mythical alpine passes.

The event series “Coop Ride the Alps“ is a notch above the usual cycling experience: on selected dates the roads leading over mountain passes will be reserved exclusively for cyclists. This is an opportunity not to be missed!

The Ticino event is called Granfondo San Gottardo and will take place on July 22nd, 2018.

The pass road over the Gotthard is under monument protection and has largely retained the appearance of the reconstruction completed in 1951: its famous granite cobblestones are notorious amongst cyclists and most of the original paved road has been retained and restored, as have the kilometre stones. It is the "crème de la crème" for pass cyclists.

Have a great ride!

Here are some details:
Pass: Gotthard Pass
Highest point: 2,106m
Start: Ambri
Distance: 42 km, of which closed to traffic: 13km
Altitude gain from Disentis: 932m, of which closed to traffic: 932m
Average incline: 7.4%
Entry fee: 1 April – 20 July 2018: CHF 60.00; after 21 July 2018: CHF 70.00
E-Bikes allowed.
For more info either go to www.granfondosangottardo.com or info@granfondosangottardo.ch

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

StraLugano 2018

StraLugano has been held in Lugano since 2006 and has been characterized as one of the most beautiful races of international running. The half marathon and the 10 km city run are among the most popular, however there is a choice of possibilities that you can either run or walk:

- Halfmarathon
- 5 km Run4Charity; non-competitive race for families whose proceeds will be donated to associations operating in the area, helping others
- Relay 3x7 relay, dedicated to team racing
- Cityrun - 10 km
- Stracombinata (halfmarathon + cityrun)
- Monte Brè vertical race
- Kidsrun, the 700 meters race dedicated to the youngest

Opening event of the StraLugano 2018 will be the Kids Run: http://stralugano.ch/kidsrun-2018/.
The competition for the youngest foresees a course of 700 meters winding through the streets of the city center where the track will be the same for all children, but the Under10 will run it once while the Under12 twice and the Under16 trice. For the wee little ones there will be the Under6 category where, if they want, they can run together with their parent. For further information e-mail sara@stralugano.ch.

What do high-heeled shoes and flip-flops have in common? Both run the CRAZY MARATHON on May 26th at 3:00 pm in Piazza della Riforma. As a fun addition to the StraLugano for the first time this year four teams will compete in the 200m relay race. High heels against the fins and flip flops is bound to be fun. And all for a good cause. Register now!

Tickets can be purchased online (http://stralugano.ch) or directly before the start at the StraLugano booth (arrive well in advance). For more information, visit www.stralugano.ch.

Venue: StraLugano 2018
Where: City of Lugano
Date: Saturday, May26th & Sunday, May27th, 2018
Click here for the programme: http://stralugano.ch/programma/

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Discovering Ticino

Meet Chris Burkard. Now, you'd think he's Swiss with a name such as his but... Chris Burkard is a self-taught photographer and artist, based in Pismo Beach, California.

At the age of 32, Burkard is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author. He has established himself as a known name in the surf and outdoor industries, whose work is layered by outdoor lifestyle and travel subjects.

Searching for wild, remote destinations and offbeat landscapes, Burkard portrays the humble placement of the human in contrast to nature... he has of late discovered the Ticino!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Artisti di Strada ad Ascona

It is time to take a trip up the valley...

During four days, artists from all corners of this world, come to perform their skills in the streets of Ascona at "Artisti di Strada", a festival founded in 2004.

Without compensation, the performers will be busking at the end of their performance as in the old tradition of street performing ... and there will be a panoply of talented performers: Artisti

Over 100 shows, all for free, in many different genres: mime, theater, acrobatics, juggling, balancing, fire spitters, musicians, clowns and so on.

Enjoy yourself and treat your family to the four days of the Festival Artistidistrada in Ascona.

Venue: Festival "Artistidistrada"
Where: Ascona, at the lake promenade, by the municipal library, at the Piazza Torre, Piazza Elvezia and other places
Date: Friday, May 18th to Monday May 21st, 2018
Time: 11:00 until late at night  (Monday ends at 14:30)
More info: http://www.artistidistrada.ch/en

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When do you feel the need to go home?

Repatriation is a challenging time for expats. Few expats feel the need to return home according to HSBC's extensive Expat survey. Emotionally and practically, once you are an expat there's a sense that you remain so in many ways, and a surprisingly low proportion of the surveyed expats around the world - just 23% - have been through a repatriation process.

But the decision to repatriate is as much the wish or need to conclude an overseas life and reap the fruit of their experience as it is the draw of home. A fifth of expats (20%) returned home for career progression, however, the most common motivation for expats to return home is for family or personal reasons (32%).

Only 4% of expats state the main reason they returned to their home country was due to financial reasons. And when expats did return home, 29% found the higher cost of living a challenge.

While the majority (81%) of expats returning home experienced at least one issue as a result, the main impact was an emotional rather than practical one. Many felt they no longer 'fitted in' when they returned to their home country.

Attitudes towards repatriation also differ by nationality. American and French nationals who did return home are more likely than other nationalities to find fitting in difficult. On the other hand, only 20% of Canadians and 20% of Germans found the experience of returning home challenging.

For many expats, repatriation is not on their radar for one important reason - they have found the improvement in their quality of life they were looking for, both for themselves and their children.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

La Bacchica a Lugano

La Bacchica is Lugano's popular wine festival that will be held on the shores of Lake Ceresio for the fourth time. Lugano thus becomes the city of wine, folklore, craftsmanship and food connoisseurship. All the traditional appointments such as wine-tasting of wines produced in Ticino and savouring and purchasing of local gastronomic products are not to be missed this weekend. You'll even encounter a space dedicated to the cuisines from many parts of the world.

The five days dedicated to Bacchus will be accompanied by the music of local bands and other musical groups.

One of the highlights of La Bacchica is the traditional Sunday parade. It features folklore groups from the region showcasing their outfits and musical skills.

The Organising Committee is happy to invite you all to enjoy the spirit of Lugano's conviviality in front of a good glass of Ticinese wine... and if you're lucky you might even get to meet Miss Bacchica.

Venue: La Bacchia wine festival
Where: Lakeshore and city center of Lugano
Date: Thursday, May 10th to Sunday, May 13th
For more info: http://www.labacchica.ch/

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

9 Things Flight Attendants Notice About You When You Board a Plane

Ever wondered what experienced flight attendants notice about passengers as they board the plane. Well, below you'll find a list of current and former flight attendants answered to the question:  "What a flight attendant takes note of as you board a plane?"

1. What you're wearing.

2. What kind of bags you're carrying.

3. If you're traveling alone or with someone.

4. How patient you are while waiting in the long line during boarding.

5. If you're intoxicated.

6. If you're a frequent traveler.

7. What kind of book you're carrying or reading.

8. If you give a helping hand to those in need.

9. If you're carrying food with you.

Simply put, they attempt to determine whether or not you're an experienced, well-mannered traveler.

Did you know that at cruise level, the air pressure in an airliner is equal to about 8,000 feet above sea level. In addition to making your ears pop, it causes our taste buds and sense of smell to go partially numb, compared to on ground. This has major impact on how food tastes & smells. This is one of the reason why crew prefer to get their own food rather then eating aircraft food. A passenger bringing his own food shows a lot of awareness... or one could argue... it's just plain cheaper!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

1'000'000 views!

It started as a challenge to see if I could set up a blog on my own with no technical help and without spending a dime. I had been slightly bored in my little town South of the Alps and therefore decided to reach out to the world... hence I leapt into the digital universe and have never looked back. 

I learnt about blogging, googled some simple coding, experimented with HTML, signed up to most social media platforms and figured out how it all links up. Over night blogging became my passion and has not left me since.

I discovered a whole new community called bloggers who are happy to exchange tips and share ideas reminding me in many ways of the Expat community where you don't need much of an introduction to start conversations. 

Lugano at the time was booming, many Expat were arriving from all parts of the world. The housing market was at an all-time high. What was missing was an English guide on how to find your way around the area. My niche - I quickly realized - would be the English-speaking community of Lugano whom at the time did not enjoy the luxury of an English online guide about the area. 

This was my party and I was having a ball!

Today, I am not the only kid on the block anymore and there are many more professional digital Ticino guides offering their services, however, this has not kept me from enjoying my little share, homegrown as it is!

Seven years down the lane and I am still happily writing posts and publishing photos on my three blogs: Expat with Kids, Expat with Kids in Paris and Expat with Kids recipes

This week I have hit a milestone with 1'000'000 views on my original blog Expat with Kids, a funky guide filled with fun facts, international recipes, intriguing gadgets, inspiring ideas, beautiful photos and useful information about the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland- the Ticino!

Thank you readers for being part of the journey and following me over the years. It has been a pleasure! Here is to the next one million!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Festa Danzante Lugano

Ever wanted to learn how to dance Argentinean tango or Caribbean salsa? This weekend is your chance.

Swiss cities are hosting a whole weekend of dance events taking place in theatres, in public spaces, in the street and just about everywhere. From hip hop to tango and from contemporary dance to African, everyone is free to choose their own programme.

Everyone can go along and discover the talent of famous choreographers and young performers alike, try out some dance steps, watch dances from all over the world, take part in some great parties, find out about the activities of a host of local dance schools, get caught up in unexpected flash mobs and experience innovative projects devised especially for the occasion.

In Ticino, the hub of all this activity is Lugano, with its streets, its piazzas and its public and cultural spaces, but also its Foce Theatre and Studio. But the festival also brings plenty of events to other places, as its partners also include such important museums as the Vincenzo Vela Museum in Ligornetto, the Mendrisio Art Museum and Villa dei Cedri in Bellinzona.

The Dance Festival is truly an event for everyone! And that includes affordability: if you buy the badge (it only costs CHF 15.- and it’s even free for those aged up to 16), you can take part in all the events in the programme in cities all over Switzerland!

Venue: Festa Danzante 2018
Where: various locations: http://www.festadanzante.ch/ticino/infos/
Date: Friday, May 4 to Sunday, May 6, 2018
Time: 10:30-22:30 + party to 24:00
Programme for Ticino: http://www.festadanzante.ch/ticino/programme
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