Sunday, June 30, 2019

Celebrating July 4th with InterNations and AFW

Join the InterNations network at the ethnic restaurant "Feta" and celebrate the American Independence Day. is an International social network service designed with expatriates in mind. The website was founded by three young German businessmen. They had come to recognize the need for a global online network for expatriates when they were living abroad themselves. They decided to come up with a web-based dot-com solution to address issues like relocation, intercultural competence, cross-cultural communications and everyday life as an expat which today spreads over 230 cities worldwide.

All of the evening's proceeds will be donated to AFW (Ankur For The World Association). was founded in Ankur Singhal's memory to empower youth through education. An Indian by birth, his exemplary academic achievements led to a life of travel, finally leading him to settling in Switzerland. Ankur's life was cut short tragically by incurable cancer, but he left behind a legacy of deep friendships built on his incredible positivity. After his passing on, his friends came together to mourn, and discovered that they all had been indelibly touched by his friendship. As they shared their stories, an idea began to take root - what if the best of what Ankur represented, could be carried forward to do good for others?

The association's motivation is to create impact by connecting different worlds, using education as a tool for opening up the world of opportunity, and helping others view the world positively against the odds.

Feta will be offering mini burgers and other American specialties. Kindly note that the welcome drink token will be distributed only until 20:15 (margarita shot only - to redeem by 20:30).

Please register for this event by signing up at their site and by clicking the Accept Invitation button. Feel free to bring your friends. If they want the CHF 5.- discount, please ask them to first become InterNations' members, and secondly to sign-up for this event, in order to be on the guest list.

Venue: InterNations Networking Event for AFW
Where: Restaurant FETA, Via Zurigo 7, 6900 Lugano
When: Thursday, July 4th, 2019
Time: 19:00 - 22.00
There are some white and blue parking around this venue (check also Piazza Molino nuovo)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Long Lake Experience in Lugano

Having reached its 9th edition, the International LongLake Festival is one of the biggest open-air city festivals in Switzerland. Concerts, music for all tastes, literature, gatherings, entertainment, theatre, dance, cinema, children’s shows and urban art installations will invade the streets, squares and public parks of the city almost completely free of charge.

Compared to the other LongLake festivals, which are short and intense, Experience keeps on going for the entire month. With its mix of different kinds of events and attractive locations, Experience transforms the way of experiencing Lugano’s lakefront, making it exciting for residents and welcoming for guests and tourists.

The public are guided towards the different events on offer through themed sections, and include festivals created historically within LongLake (Classica, Dance, Family and Urban Art), as well as many others through the cyclone of enthusiasm resulting from the collaboration with different organisers.

From June 17th to August 27th, the lakefront will be closed to traffic every Friday and Saturday from 20:30 to 01:30.

Today's programme:
Complete programme:
Long Lake experience programme:
National Day programme:

Thursday, June 27, 2019

One picture to sum up my week

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

60 years of Swissminiature

Swissminiature is Switzerland on a smaller scale. There are 128 models of houses, castles and monuments in the open air, distributed throughout the 14,000 square meter park. The models have been recreated authentically - with great attention to detail - and are surrounded by thousands of plants and flowers.

Bundeshaus, Kapellbrücke, Schilthorn - all are there. Just a few steps apart. Like in the olden days. And the new models, such as Schloss Rapperswil, which was added last year, fit seamlessly into the harmonious overall picture. This constancy is nice for nostalgics, but nowadays Switzerland seems to have fallen a little bit out of sync on a scale of 1:25. The number of visitors to Swissminiatur last year fell to 130,000. In its heydays, it was 350,000.

That's why new ideas and visions are needed. The handover of the third generation comes at the right time. Joël Vuigner (35), has officially taken over the business of his father Dominique (66) on the occasion of the park's 60th birthday on 6 June.

The input for Swissminiatur was given by a representative in the 1950s. He tells the owner of the local store in Grimisuat (Lower Valais) about a new park in The Hague: Mini-Holland called "Madurodam". The store owner is Pierre Vuigner whom falls in love with the idea of adapting the concept to Switzerland. He finds a piece of land in Ticino and begins construction. When Swissminiatur opens its doors in 1959, only a handful of models are showcased, the landscape is still barren. Pierre Vuigner does not suspect that he will declare years later: "I have discovered a gold mine."

The first to discover the pocket sized Switzerland were the Italians. They flock across the border in the sixties as shopping tourists. They buy watches, chocolates, cigarettes. On the way to Lugano they stop at the new attraction. "Until 1974, two-thirds of all visitors were Italians," remembers Dominique, who was trained as a 19-year-old by his father. "At every Italian holiday hundreds of buses arrived, in those days there were about fifty holidays a year. "

In 1980, Dominique and his brother Jean-Luc (62) took over the business - just in time for the beginning of the next golden era, the Swiss-German era. The opening of the Gotthard road tunnel cleared the way for the people on the northern side of the Alps. They too came by the thousands.

Switzerland in miniature - you had to see it. Walking through the Helvetian sights like Gulliver through Liliput was an experience. Swissminiatur was a national compulsory programme for decades: an attraction that everyone visited at least once in their lifetime. And maybe a second time because many who were there as a child went back as adults with their own children. Thus, the Swiss attraction grew to become a Swiss tradition passed down from generation to generation. The peak reached the park in 1989 with 350 000 visitors.

Meanwhile, Swissminiatur has hit the digital age. These are tough times because tradition is crumbling. With the Europa-Park, Legoland, Ravensburger Spieleland and many innovative Swiss adventure museums such as the Swiss Museum of Transport, Swissminiatur has felt the spectacular competition in the struggle for paying visitors who will think twice about the possible risk of the Gotthard traffic jam to reach the Ticino.

The question that Joël Vuigner has to deal with now, is how to control the family business. Over the years, the attraction has become an open-air museum, a nostalgic park. The new boss wants to polish up the dusty image. He made the start last year with a smartphone app as well as a new logo. "I want to promote interactivity," he announces.

Let's give him a hand by spreading the news and visit Swiss Miniature this summer!

The king of Swissminiatur and his heir to the throne: Dominique (front) and Joël Vuigner in the model of the castle and collegiate church Neuchâtel.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Where to keep cool this week

It is hot this week... very hot! Millions are sweltering as a heat wave builds from Madrid to Paris. Meteo Swiss has issued the highest heatwave warning since 2015 with a predicted 37ºC on Thursday for Lugano!

This is a list of the best places near the water to keep cool this week and over the summer.

Lido di Caslano
My absoulte favourite spot is the Lido of Caslano. You need to rise early if you want to catch one of the four sunshades on the sandy beach but it is worth it:

Lido de Lugano
The biggest Lido is of course Il Lido de Lugano. Built in 1928, Lugano Lido’s charm has not faded with time. Though the facilities are constantly renovated, improvements always respect the original wooden structure. Lugano Lido is an extremely popular spot not only with residents of Lugano.
Facilities include:
a beach with fine sand (100 x 20 m) and the possibility of swimming in the lake
an Olympics-size pool heated to 25 degrees (50 x 25 m)
a heated medium-sized pool (25 x 12.5 m)
a diving pool with boards at 1, 3, 5 and 10 metres
a pool for children with water games
a beach volley court (25 x 13 m)
a five-a-side soccer pitch (25 x 13 m)
a very cool bar and restaurant area

Ever since 1992 the Lido also features a giant filmscreen in summer under the auspices of “Cinema al Lago", a festival of great films which has become more and more popular.

Lido di San Domenico
To find respite during torrid days at the beginning of summer the choice is not limited to Lugano Lido. Visit the Lido di San Domenico, an incredibly picturesque natural beauty-spot which affords stunning views over the lake and the Caprino shoreline. Once you have left Lugano behind, heading for Gandria, drive along that section of the Via Cortivo that skirts the village of Castagnola, and you are in the National Pre-alpine Park. Here the nature lover will find thick laurel groves, thriving olive trees, clumps of agave and a wealth of other Mediterranean flora. Get there early to secure your space!

Lido Riva Caccia
From the Lido Riva Caccia platform, close to the lakefront and the city centre, a wonderful landscape is to be admired; the setting is characteristic, exclusive and extremely pleasant. The story of this Lido goes back a long way, in tandem with Lugano's development as a centre for tourism. Construction of the "floating Lido” was the brainchild of the Pro-Lugano Association in 1889, inspired by what had already been proposed in Zurich.

Lido di Melide
Another stunning view is to be enjoyed at the Lido di Melide. This outing can be combined with a visit to the nearby Swiss Miniature.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy French Father's Day

Father's Day is defiantly a challenge when you are an expat family. Which one do you celebrate? The Italian, the Swiss, or the French one? They all fall on different days!

It's Father's Day in France today and Expat Girl likes to create rather than buy gifts for her Papi.

Always busy with a schedule that hardly lets her breath she sat down last night after dinner and crafted this year's present. Just goes to show it is the idea that counts, the execution can be done with weeks of preparation or at midnight the night before.

With an empty jam jar and some coloured felt pens her creation came to life. What are all the reasons your kids love their Daddy for? My favourite one: Perché hai un'accento "beautiful".

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"Scollinando" the hills of Lugano

The adventure takes you through the 11 municipalities of Cadempino, Canobbio, Comano , Cureglia, Lamone, Massagno, Origlio, Ponte Capriasca, Porza, Savosa and Vezia. Up and down the hills, munching breakfast, watching shows, enjoying concerts, ateliers for children and adults to participate in, even educational and sensory tours as well as tastings. "Scollindano" will keep you and your family busy all day tomorrow!

The main purpose of this project is to enhance the natural and architectural peculiarities of the area, involving the local community and stimulating the resident population to rediscover the hill on foot, or by bicycle, thus creating a sort of social network between the two entities. Thanks to "scollinando" a good inter-municipal collaboration is also consolidated.

You will be able to "scollinando" the San Zeno, the San Bernardo and the San Clemente hills, the Bolla di San Martino nature reserve, some parks and the beautiful Origlio lake. Have fun!

For more info:
Detailed programme in Italian:
Map of the area: Mappa stilizzata 2017 del progetto scollinando

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A perfect long weekend in Lugano

What can I say? We are heading home for yet another long weekend...

France is world champion when it comes to weekend breaks in May. When French holiday dates fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, employees in France commonly make a ‘bridge’ holiday (faire le pont), creating a very long weekend. France observes 11 French public holidays each year, it’s a great reason/excuse to travel.

Lugano here we come... home, sweet home!

The best flight in Europe ... across the Swiss Alps

Feeling at home already

No flight I'd rather be on right now

The most romantic place: Villa Helios in Castagnola built in 1901-1902

In tune with nature

A sports complex with a view

A Ticinese grotto, nothing is more typical for life in Ticino than the grotto, a simple tavern in quiet hideaway places serving authentic and traditional cuisine.

Homemade is good too!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

World Oceans Day

Celebrated each year on 8 June since 2009, World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.

The lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe, the oceans are also a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere. The concept of a "World Oceans Day" was first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro as a way to celebrate our world’s shared ocean and our personal connection to the sea.

World Oceans Day 2018 was celebrated with the theme “Preventing Plastic Pollution and Encouraging Solutions for a Healthy Ocean”.

This year, the theme for World Oceans Day is “Gender and the Ocean”, an opportunity to explore the gender dimension of humankind’s relationship with the ocean.

The importance of gender equality, in particular for the effective conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources is increasingly being recognized. However, there is very little data and research on these issues, and a concerted action towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is still needed in all ocean-related sectors.

The 2019 edition of World Oceans Day will strive to build greater ocean and gender literacy and discover possible ways to promote gender equality in ocean-related activities such as marine scientific research, fisheries, labour at sea, migration by sea and human trafficking, policy-making and management.

What will be your contribution for a more gender-equal global ocean community?

Friday, June 7, 2019

Swiss sophistication mixed with Italian passion

Feeling rather adventurous Expat hubby decided to make the most of a spectacularly sunny day and rent a boat on the lake of Lugano. Lake Lugano is one of the three large lakes (Como and Maggiore are the other two) that hug the Swiss-Italian border, lining up in neat and handsome parallels.

The water drifts between the sheer granite walls of two mighty triangles, Mount Bre and Mount San Salvatore. Together they form the stunning frame through which you look south from the town of Lugano.

As we chugged along the shoreline heading for the Italian border, we admired La Villa Favorita and the little village of Gandria, both places of enchanting charm. 

And as the whole family basks in the sun trying to find space on the tiny boat, I can't help but smile at my splendid surroundings infused with a mix of Swiss sophistication and Italian passion. 

My American Dad would have called it "Ahhh, la dolce vita!"

San Salvatore one of the many hills framing Lugano's landscape

Heading towards Porlezza in Italy

There is not much flat soil, which allows for some fantastic hiking.
Spot the Lido San Domenico at the bottom, a perfect place to chill on a warm, sunny day.

Gandria has no ledge along the shore, the houses seem to tumble down onto the water. From the tiny dock, a few minutes' climb will take you away from the postcard and pottery trade lining the waterfront and will reveal how the village fits together like Lego pieces, houses, alleys and stairs all interconnected and carved from the granite of Mount Bre, to which the village clings.

Villa Favorita was the scene of one of the most extraordinary art transfers in peacetime, when in 1991, Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen-Bornemisza, a Swiss industrialist (of German and Hungarian decent), and his family sent 800 paintings and other works of art to Madrid.

Lugano was first mentioned by Gregory of Tours in 590 AD, who referred to the body of water as Ceresio. It is thought that the original name came from the many cherry trees that once dotted the shores of the lake. In 804 the lake was renamed as Luanasco.

Lugano's latest addition the LAC (Lugano Arte e Cultura) a new cultural centre dedicated to the visual arts, music and the performing arts.

When you get to fly back on a clear day and you just cannot get enough of the view!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

World Environment Day

Not only is today the 75th anniversary of D-Day it is also World Environment Day. It is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.

The theme for World Environment Day 2018, hosted by India, was “Beat Plastic Pollution”, which was a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. Many countries have since made baby steps concerning plastic pollution.

World Environment Day 2019 is hosted by China, with the theme of "Air Pollution". We can't stop breathing, but we can do something about the quality of air that we breathe.

Approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution, with about 4 million of these deaths occurring in Asia-Pacific. World Environment Day 2019 will urge governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world.

Air Pollution facts:
- 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air
- Air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs
- Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030

What will you do?

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