What to do in Lugano in six hours?

Switzerland is tiny, but very diverse and easy to explore. In the Italian part of the country is a similar vibe as in Italy, just still organized in a swiss way.

Tessin, or Ticino as they call it, gets usually more sunshine during the year, perhaps hence the more smiley attitude of the locals.

Lugano, being the largest city in Ticino, lies on the Lake Lugano and it’s surrounded by the Lugano Prealps. Easy to approach both from Italy and other swiss cities, Lugano is a delight of the region. By swiss standards a large city, however small enough to explore by foot in just six hours.

A short walk from the train station and the breathtaking panorama reveals itself. Although it’s just 10 am the sun is burning my skin. The view is wonderful, the sky reflecting in the lake, offering a pleasant combination of colors for the eyes.


Along the lake there are plenty of benches to rest and admire the picturesque view. Besides the walk, various activities may be done, such as cruising or paddle boarding.



It’s wise to have swimmers on in case the inviting water and the sandy beach may get too hard to refuse. The ideal summer holiday setting, even though it’s not even officially summer yet. 


At lunchtime there’s no need to bother going far away, as there are several restaurants along the lake, where serving a meal comes together with the panorama as bonus. The choice may be hard though, because all of them seem cosy and the stuff very friendly.



While in Lugano, what could be the dessert if not a delicious gelato? Ice cream that tastes the best when made with Italian skill, gelato is my sweet memory of Lugano and I’d strongly recommend to try it. Yummi, yummi!

For the afternoon I thought about having a look at Monte Bre, the small mountain that’s considered one of the sunniest points in Switzerland. 


The Monte Bre funicular took me up there in a few minutes for the price of a few gelatos. The investment does well worth it. A spectacular view greets the visitors at arrival, offering plenty of spots for postcard perfect pictures.



 It is also the ideal location to serve a drink with a view at one of the restaurants. 



Heading back to the city… There is still a bit less than an hour left, just enough to briefly check out the old town of Lugano with its fancy boutiques and designer shops.

 No shopping for me, but regardless I made a complete picture of the city. With one last gelato purchased I’m happily on my way back to the train station at 4 pm. 

Happy 3rd one!

Happy 3rd one!
On an October 15, 3 years ago I was excitedly departing London with destination Zurich, were I wasn’t yet sure what I’m gonna find. Didn’t know anyone, just had a job offer for 3 months.

 Now, I find myself in the same city 3 years after. Stuck in Switzerland! But so happy that life surprised me with this. At times it’s been a bumpy road, but always with a positive result and a collection of amazing memories and a better and more developed self, even a slightly improved German. 

I discovered here how important is for me to connect with nature and enjoy it’s beauty while hiking, biking or simply just wandering.

  
  
  
I started seeing winter not only a cold season, but a beautiful and energizing one by reinventing myself in the breathtaking Alps while snowboarding.

  
  
Managed to refresh a bit my German knowledge and picked up some funny expressions from the local dialect.

  
Danced my way around either in dirndl or lederhosen at the Zurichian version Oktoberfest.

  
  
 Ticked one of my bucketlist thing to do: paragliding.

  
I keep eating the best chocolate in the world!

  
Those above and many others formed me into a collector of memories and not things, into someone that appreciates little things cause they provoke big smiles.

  
Unexpected changes, good and not so, the arrival of special people and the bitter taste of their sudden departure from my life, that’s also part of the experience here, in Zurich. The city treats me with a permanent diversity in the matter of climate and in matter of people I come across with. Most of us seem to be passengers with similar history, sharing the same place, doing our best to blend in and take out the best of it. Although they all complain about the coldness of the swiss, I do feel it too to a certain level, gladly I experienced their warm side too. A nation that is well-known as distant, neutral and rather straight-faced, often refuses to deal with open, warm and outgoing personalities. With all these I somehow felt always accepted and welcome and didn’t mind showing my feelings even though they may have seemed a bit too much: ” you are too passionate”, ” you talk too much”, ” you simply can be too much for anybody” – my outgoing swiss friend would often mention with his best intentions. We have great laughs about it and life goes on… a mystery until how many more anniversaries… ‘Til then: cheers!

  

First paragliding experience in Flüelen – Switzerland

I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky … – and if you don’t believe probably you shouldn’t sign up from the very beginning for such an adventure. Paragliding – as exciting as it seems, I’m sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an adventure sport and either you want to make it a once in a lifetime event or practice it on a professional level – it sure requires some guts to do it. Considering that it’s been for ages on my to do list and theoretically I could have done it anytime in the past, I would say that you will just feel when you are really ready to do it. Really ready it’s relative though,  before take off your pilot will ask you: ” are you ready” and of course you will be completely lost and won’t have any idea wether you are ready or not, but about that a bit later on.

As a person who likes to share strong emotions and experiences with someone who is on the same page with me, in a rather unusual setting I met the right person. She’s Kaola, the girl I called a couple of times koala – I’m pretty sure you can understand why, don’t you? – and after a few emails and phone calls with our paragliding professional, Marcel, we were all set up for our first ever paragliding event.

  
The excitement before the flight was as big as during and after. Exchanging a few lines with Marcel the previous day was totally helpful, he is easy to talk to, funny and positive, so I was sure to fly with him, feeling somehow a specific trust level. Kaola was going to fly with Phillip, who is the other half of our paragliding team. The preparation takes around 10 minutes, during this time we joke around and take pictures, put the harness on and check a couple of times if we are well tied to our pilots. 

   
 Marcel explains the easy steps the passenger must follow and from there on we rely on the force of nature, in this case the wind. Lucky us, cause Mr Wind starts to blow gently so when I hear: “Run!”, the good listener I am, I do exactly that. From then on it’s: Wow! In a few seconds we are up in the air, above the trees, the streets,the lake, the people, above the world. You don’t even have time to be scared, you are too busy enjoying the view and experiencing this unique feeling. To be honest, actually you really don’t have any reason to fear. The seat is comfy and the flight smooth, the view absolutely breathtaking and such a relaxing silence that I wish I could float for hours up there. 

   
   
I took the chance of interviewing Marcel up in the air while he was flying me around and found out that besides the hobby of flying, it’s also his full time job, taking aprox 5-6 flights/day. The whole equipment weights aprox 25 kg and during the way more than 10 years experience he has, he just suffered minor injuries, managing to bring  all his passengers to the ground in one piece and fully satisfied.

  
Me: How did you discover your passion for flying?

Marcel: Exactly like you ( laughing ). Took a tandem flight and loved it, so I continued and now it’s my living.

Me: Which was your most memorable flight?

Marcel: I did many great flights in various locations around Switzerland and not only. The first flight for sure it’s memorable, but not necessarily the best one. I did a flight once in Brazil that lasted 12 hours. I covered a few hundred km. That was amazing!

Me: Wow! ( completely overwhelmed) How did you manage with the basic needs for so long? And I assume it must be tiring too…

Marcel: Eating and drinking is not an issue, I can carry the products and eat, drink without any problems up in the air. Toilet can be an issue though… At the end of the day I am tired, yes.

Me: I read online that there’s no age limit for the passengers. Is that so? Did you have any extremes?

Marcel: Just a week ago I flew  with a 5 years old kid and my oldest passenger was 81. 

Me: Could you imagine yourself doing something else for a living? What could determine you to give up flying?

Marcel: I could  never give up flying!  ( very, very firm) I could imagine working something else, of course, and I sometimes think that yes, I do this now but what will happen let’s say when I’m 50 and maybe can’t do it anymore, what’s next? But I definitely wouldn’t want to give up flying!

  

During the discussion I was looking down at the mesmerizing landscape and under me the everyday life was having it’s own rhytm, the cars where going on the streets and it looked like the pieces of a moving puzzle which I could almost touch and rearrange the way I wanted. The wind was blowing us, we took turns, we were gliding and I was even managing the direction at some point, which for sure wouldn’t be a smart idea for more than 2 minutes. The landing is a whole adventure itself. A roller coaster kind of sensation with turns one after the other with a great speed in a spiral down until you nearly reach the ground. After a little more run and that’s what I call landed succesfully!

Hiking spot:France – view: Switzerland 

Geneva, as city is not too bad, it’s location is convenient either you wish to visit Switzerland or France. The local bus in less than 20 minutes takes you to the border and literally you walk out of the country easy as it sounds. No border officer to nag you, no formality – at least not on this lovely Wednesday. However, for a second it feels a bit like the middle of nowhere and slightly confusing but the view is interesting.

 At the cable car station, asking for directions it’s impossible not to notice a bit of the typical French arrogance, which actually makes me smile back cause my mood is too good today to be disturbed by such manners. It seems that Megan and myself are the only brave gals determined to hike up to the top of Mont Salève, which at first sight seems to be just a massive rock.

  
As we follow the trail, trying to find the well hidden signs, we realize that’s it’s not an easy hike – we are both beginners, let’s be clear about that – sweating becomes normal, some complains are hard to avoid, but overall it’s a fantastic work out. Even if the trail most of the time takes you between the trees, in the middle of the woods, at some point you reach some great viewing points and the view gives you the push you need to continue. 

   
 
The path, then some steps, the steep trail – all lead you to an unexpected sight: a village up in the mountains.

   
 
It’s quiet and away from the busy cities, all surrounded by green trees, in a picturesque setting there are several little houses, a church, a cafe and even some locals speaking decent English. I’m in a very positive way surprised! 

  

Leaving the cute village behind, our aim is the top, in order to reach it we continue on other steep paths leading to some other unexpected locations.

  
Buddhist center? Yes, that’s right, I didn’t expect to find that up there, but I enjoy this day full of discoveries. And who wouldn’t enjoy  also this beautiful nature which surrounds us?

   
    
 
I’m just wondering why all those young people we see at the destination had chosen taking the cable car instead hiking up? The satisfaction you have when you “suffered” to reach the top must be incomparable. Your legs are shaking, sweat is trickling down your back under the T-Shirt and your face is all red, but brightens up as you look down and see the perfect picture: the city, the lake, the trees, the roads, the moving cars – and you are all above them, watching in silence as if time stopped for a while.

   
    
    
 
For me time stopped for a while… I lie down, the sun burns my cheeks and I like it, I breath in  the fresh mountain air, I enjoy the French spot and I admire the Swiss view. Voila!

Zermatt – all seasons paradise – Switzerland 

As much as I may love Zürich, life in the city becomes boring at times. In such situations day trips are life savers… or mood savers. In any case, on weekends not just me, many others escape the city life and go to the mountains. I took my hiking shoes and my friend, Ania, an enormous amount of excitement, a little doze of determination for doing sport and after a 3 hours smooth train ride we arrived to the beautiful, car free mountain village of Zermatt. Not only the fresh air hit our nose, but also a few rain drops coming from the massive, dark clouds above us.

  

We must have scared away the grumpy clouds with our big laughs ’cause once we set our feet on the trail the friendly sun came out and followed us a long while during our hike.

  
  
  
Before you’d believe what a professional hiker I am, I should admit that I was tempted to stop every 2 minutes to take a pic of the view?!  … And I actually did stop to do so. Just because the nature over there it’s gorgeous, pure, beautiful and so on, so on. 

  
Still, for a daytrip from such a distance as Zürich, it’s a bit rushed, but God bless the cable car! In aprox 40 min this magic invention will take you all the way up to Matterhorn, where is winter, freezing cold, ice, wind and fog, but a special sensation, though if you take a thick jacket you will appreciate it more than I did in my thin hoodie.

  
   
  
 Is my smile convincing you to not wear winter gear in August? Maybe the ice and snow will make you think it over.

  
  
On the way back down there’s a lot more to discover than just warmer temperatures. Some cute, little lakes and the beautiful lake of Schwarzsee surrounded by the massive rocks of the mountain. Hard not to feel connected to nature in such a place. 

  
  
  
In Zermatt not only  mountains, also love is all around you! You don’t believe me? Have a look what’s up there on the balcony?!

  

  

Wonderful Zürich

Sometimes I need to think a bit about where is exactly in my case what we call:home.Home is where I was born and raised and I have my family or where I live now with no relatives around? It doesn’t really matter which one is it in the end, certain is that for more than a year now my comfort zone, my settlement and my place close to my heart is Zürich.

Zürich is rather small and peaceful, but in the same time has a great cosmopolitan and international spirit.

In my vision is also the most beautiful city and it definitely is one of the cleanest and safest not only in Switzerland.

Today was a sunny day…Zürich is wonderful in sunny days.Hiking up to Üetliberg took me around 40 minutes.Easy hike,fresh air,always the same breathtaking view,but every time blowing me away and making me fall in love again and again with this place.

   

 

I wonder… shall I call home this place that offers me such a good feeling of being just in the right spot in the right time?…