Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stuff about Switzerland 5

1.  Here it is: "fahrt."  What a joke.

Tomorrow we go to Locarno - surely I'll have plenty of FART photos (I know you're excited).

2.  The Swiss take their dogs seriously.  Here's a special dog drinking fountain on Monte Generoso:

3.  The Swiss take their children even more seriously.  There were not one, but two playgrounds up on Monte Generoso - there are playgrounds pretty much everywhere:

4.  The Lugano car show continues - I think I need a separate blog category for cars.  Here's a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta from our apartment porch:

You know, 740 hp, zero-to-sixty in 3 seconds, $300,000 plus, yadda-yadda.  The driver saw me taking a picture and put on a little show for us:

Will-J's eyes got wide as this thing disappeared up the hill with a little grumpy rumble of it's engine - he says he wants one.

5.  And at the other end of the spectrum - generic beer!  Reminds us of our trip to Edmonton.  This one is from Coop - so far we have discovered that the Denner brand is far superior, including a faux brand name of "Gralsburg."

But really it wasn't bad.

Hike: Monte Generoso

We're starting our weekend trips with baby steps - today to nearby Monte Generoso.  We took a local train to Capolago, and then changed to the cog railway (the Ferrovia Monte Generoso) up the mountain:

I was paranoid that it would be crowded given the heat, but the heat was defeated by the heavy haze - people knew there wouldn't be views and went to the beach instead.

A few photos here.

We hiked around the summit for a few hours.  Generoso is only 1701 meters, but has surprising exposure on even the simple trails to neighboring little summits.  Every American who comes to Switzerland says this - the trails aren't that long - but dang they are steep.

A few more photos:

(Will-J discovers the high-altitude foosball table - reminds me of Parinacota a little)

(that's an ibex, right?)

(tired boy on the train ride down)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Stuff about Switzerland 4

1.  They take their holidays seriously - today was the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and it was practically a ghost town:

Hey, I grew up with Casimir Pulaski Day - every region has its traditions.

2.  In Locarno, there's a train/bus system called FART.  Yes, it's the Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticenesi.  We were going to visit Locarno anyway, but now it's a must if nothing else for photos of the FART - Will-J and I insist.  Yes, some people go for the famous film festival, and some for the lake - we go for the FART.

3.  Secret sushi?

Maybe a big Manu Chau fan.

4.  I just like this one:

5.  Grocery stores here are open from 8 to 6:30 - less today due to the holiday.  We're not used to this, and they had to herd us out of the Migros yesterday.

Hike: Bre, Monte Boglia

When we hiked up Monte Bre, it seemed only natural to come back to try Monte Boglia - it's right next to Monte Bre, it's quite a bit taller (1516 meters), and there's even a city bus up to Bre village.  What's not to like?  Nothing, except for the bare-bones bus schedule on a "festivi" day (the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul) - when I got back to Bre village, a return bus wasn't scheduled two hours, so I hiked back down to Lugano from Monte Bre.

A few photos here (but it was extremely hazy).

Another professor told Catherine today that it's much hotter than average - I'm glad to hear this, as we've been sweating up a storm since we got here.  Although it's nothing compared to the heat wave back home.  100 degrees or more for five days - yikes.  

Now here's something that reminds me of home - a Swiss range gate:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Walk to Gandria

Work is getting started here - time to get in another walk.  We took the popular route from Lugano to Gandria.  A few more photos here.

Stuff about Switzerland 3

1.  Italy beat Germany tonight in the Euro 2012 - people are driving around shouting and honking.  This may be Switzerland, but the Italian influence is strong - from food to language to culture.

2.  I'd like to say this is where we're staying:

But it's not.

3.  Here's the most important sign we've seen so far:

One of our five-year-old's great passions in life is swimming - especially when it's hot, as it has been.  He looks at the lake, he sees the cool water, and he wants to swim in the lake.  But he can't - for a lake with endless shoreline, it's surprisingly difficult to find a place to swim.  But today in Agno, we found the public beach, our boy swam to his heart's content, and all was right with the world.  It's a few blocks from the friendly red train, there's a snack cart, and the playground even has a zip-line suitable for a little boy.

(the red circle around the activity means you can't do it - no camping, for example)

4.  Friday starts the big Long Lake music festival in town, and the lakefront was lined with balloons to celebrate:

Within a few hours, kids had carried most of them off.

5.  SOLVED!  (in only three days!)  Here is the crane that lifts the underground trash containers out of the ground:

The operator was pretty bemused as we stood taking pictures of his trash truck.

6.  The endless Lugano car show continues.  I saw a McLaren today, and either the same baby-blue convertible Bentley twice, or there are two baby-blue convertible Bentleys in Lugano.  And this fine Ferarri FF:

You know it's a special car when the locals are caught staring, too.  Yes, it's four wheel drive.  Yes, it costs substantially more than my house in Denver.  We saw this bad boy outside the outdoor gear shop; maybe he's picking up some freeze-dried food on the way to the mountains.

On the other hand of the spectrum, did you know there was a Smart Roadster?  Me neither:

Yours for only $10,000 (used - they don't make 'em anymore).

Oh, and I just love the bubble-scooters - here's the BMW version:

7.  Agno is the flip side of Lugano.  While Lugano is exclusive stores, posh restaurants, and high-end banks, Agno is the Aldi-Swiss and caravan parks.  In Lugano, you see women and men who literally look as if they've stepped off a fashion shoot.  In Agno, you see a lot of sun-worshiping retirees.  Agno is as pleasant and relaxed as Lugano is dialed and upscale.  Both are on the lake.  We're fortunate to be staying about equidistant between the two.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stuff about Switzerland 2

1.  Red Bull is cheaper here - it's made in Switzerland, but I can't figure out where they make it, and more importantly, whether they have factory tours:

2.  Some odd bands coming to Lugano:

We just saw an announcement for Sheila E (but, to be fair, she's doing modern/jazz drumming, and not "A Glamorous Life")

3.  There are a lot of coffee drinks here I've never heard of, and some I can't even find a definition of (but all of them very expensive).  Whatever you do, don't order the latte macchiato - it's apparently a symbol of lame urban hipsters (unless you're doing this ironically - hey, it's your money).

4.  Gelato makes an overheated boy happy.

Hike: Lugano, Bre, Monte Bre

This morning a helicopter carried a car past our apartment: 

(Monte San Salvatore in the background)

We took it as a sign to do another hike, this time to Monte Bre (which is 925 meters to San Salvatore's 912 meters).  A few more photos here.  

This hill has a funicular on it as well, but hey if we hiked 2,000 feet up San Salvatore, we could hike 2,100 feet up Bre.  The climb wasn't as scenic - mainly stair climbing through a well-to-do residential area.  But the views certainly were nice: 

(the town of Bre Villagio, in front of Monte Boglia, along with yet more stone/concrete steps)

We found a better way down from the top - I really need to find a hiking map of the area.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stuff about Switzerland 1

It's fine of course to see the sights and absorb the culture, but of course what's really interesting about visiting a new country is trash collection (?).  To wit, my first random sampling of Swiss knowledge:

1.  I wondered how long it would be before I saw Him.  The answer - not long at all.  Here He is simultaneously smiling at our fair city of Lugano and approving of an erstwhile business deal:

2.  They have really elaborate trash and recycling processes.  All trash has to go into special black bags, tied, and delivered into a tidy dumpster that's nicer inside than my closet back home.  Recycling goes into interesting  modernistic sculptures:

 The stuff goes underground into an underground bin (Catherine theorized at first that it all goes via conveyor to a central location).  I still don't understand how they get it back out - CHECK BACK SOON.

3.  Don't leave your children unattended when they're swimming:

4.  Truth in advertising:

5.  What comes out of the coffee machine for only 0.10 ch?  It must be something, right?  I know about hot water (acqua calda), but what's a "bicchiere?"  It sounds delicious!

Travel tip: "bicchiere" means "cup."  Here is Will-J making fun of me for getting nothing but a cup:

6.  There's a great train that goes from Lugano to Ponte Tresa - it goes right by our apartment.  It looks disarmingly silly with the little smile they put on it:

But it's actually larger and more useful  than the Denver light rail train.  Plus it's been running for 100 years, as opposed to the light rail, which will never be finished.  Will-J on the train:

Travel tip: kids love trains.

7.  Just because you're on a hiking route, doesn't mean that you're on the hiking route you're looking for, or even that you're going anywhere close to the right way:

Plus, the same trail can be more than one trail - look, the hike we did today is actually not one, but two long distance trails, plus a Lago di Lugano circuit route:

8.  Swiss law requires you to be quiet after 10 p.m. - no partying allowed.  Residents get even by hopping on their incredibly loud two-stroke motorcycles/scooters, and driving around all night.  I'd rather live above a nightclub than live permanently with that racket.

9.  Speaking of cars, this is more of a Lugano thing than a Swiss thing, but it's like living in a luxury car show.  We sat out on our little balcony at dinner and saw about five Porsche Panameras (especially popular), a few Bentleys, Maserattis, etc.  My favorite was the BMW E61 M5 Touring - for the person who needs a 175 mph station wagon.  I was wondering what I'd see of the exploding Euro economy when I got here - the answer in Lugano is that business is good, very good.

10.  I mean, is there anything more romantic than this?

Bonus number 11.  Hiking boots only.