Skiing Carì in Switzerland (Ticino/Tessin)

It’s no secret, Switzerland is full of ski resorts (over 300), from small local hills, to massive resorts. Ticino hosts a few of these ski areas with many of them being smaller family-friendly ski areas. Carì is a small resort and about an hour drive from Lugano, Switzerland.

The ski hill offers 2 ski lifts and a small Kid’s Village (with a magic carpet) at both the bottom of the mountain and middle station. Other winter sports like sledding and snow shoeing are also possible.

Adults:43 CHF
Teens (13-20):35 CHF
Kids (6-12):27 CHF
Family (2 Adults + children to 11)95 CHF

Skiing can be an expensive sport, especially if you are skiing as a family. In the past Carì was a family favorite as it was very affordable for a family of 5, with their family discount ticket. Unfortunately, they have lowered the age limit for the family ticket to only include children under 11, making it more expensive for families with teenagers, but it’s still affordable.

The trails are quite picturesque. The above trail winds through small cabins and is possible to snowshoe, sled, or ski on. You can access the trail from the mid-mountain or snowshoe up from the bottom.

Two drawbacks we have found when skiing Carì:

  1. The long lines at the bottom of the hill. The 2-person lift can get quite long. Once you reach mid mountain, it is not so bad, as there is a quad lift to the top (Black and Red runs only).
  2. The parking situation. If you do not arrive early, it is possible you will have to park on the side of the road and be bused up. Or worse, we have arrived at 10 am and have been turned away as no more parking. My advice: arrive early or don’t go on peak days.

The Lodge sits mid-mountain with fantastic views over the valley. They offer a large outdoor seating patio which makes the dining experience comfortable. Inside there are also many tables and a cafeteria serving hearty Swiss lunches.

On top of the mountain sits a small cabin with a few benches inside and out. You are able to purchase a few snacks here along with drinks. It’s the perfect setting for an afternoon aperitivo with incredible views.

Carì has blue, red and black runs for all levels of skiers. The resort is quite small (20km) but we have enjoyed skiing Carì as it is an easy, affordable option when skiing as a family.

Have you been? What did you think?

Christmas Markets in Switzerland

Christmastime can feel quite magical. Ever since we’ve moved to Europe we have really started to embrace the Christmas Markets. Each canton in Switzerland have different traditions and specialties they offer. From warm chestnuts to mulled-wine, the feeling of Christmas is in the air.

Zurich, Switzerland Christmas Market Nov 21, 2019 – Dec 24, 2019

Zurich has a few Christmas Markets scattered throughout the city. The train station hosts a gorgeous Swarvoski Christmas Tree surrounded by booths. Each year since we’ve lived in Switzerland the markets seem to improve. There are food booths of many, traditional Christmas crafts and many pop-up fondue and raclette restaurants throughout the city, a winter favorite.

Sunday – Wednesday, 10.30 – 21.00
Thursday – Saturday, 10.30 – 22.00

Wienachtsdorf at Sechseläutenplatz

The market at Sechseläutenplatz has an ice rink, food booths and a few fondue chalets. I prefer this market over the one in the train station as there seems to be a bit more action, but both are lovely to visit. In addition to the ice rink, there is a fantastic play area (Santa’s workshop) just above the market for the younger crowd.

Monday – Saturday, 11.00 – 22.00
Sunday, 11.00 – 20.00

Zurich is definitely a must visit city around Christmastime, with the magically lit Conelli circus tent on the river, to the singing Christmas Tree, the feeling of Christmas surrounds you in this beautiful city.

Lugano, Switzerland Christmas Market Nov 30, 2019 – Jan 06, 2020

The Christmas market begins with the lighting of the Christmas tree in the main square of Piazza Reforma and continues throughout the New Year.

This year Lugano has really stepped it up by adding an ice rink, sledding ramp, and holiday projections on their buildings. Almost every evening there is a DJ and drinks in the square. There is also a Christmas craft area for the children.

Many booths are set up in Piazza Reforma and continue to wind throughout the cobble-stoned streets. The moderate climate in Ticino makes for very enjoyable evenings celebrating Christmas festivities out in the plaza.

Montreux , Switzerland. Nov 21, 2019 – Dec 24, 2019

I have not had the chance to visit this market yet, but this year my friend, Tanya, from Swiss Family Fun enjoyed a visit to the Montreux Christmas market. You can link to her blog for a more detailed write-up.

Sunday – Thursday, 11.00 – 20.00
Friday – Saturday, 11.00 – 22.00

One of the highlights of this market is Santa and his reindeer soaring high above the Christmas market. (How awesome is that?) This market is definitely high on our list to visit next year.

Locarno on Ice, Switzerland Nov 21, 2019 – Jan 06, 2020

Locarno has a beautiful ice rink installed in the middle of the town square. The town is full of Christmas events, food booths, goodies, etc. The ice rink is open daily through the holiday season. You can bring your own skates or there are also skates for hire.

Saturday – Sunday, 10.00 – 1.00 (the hours are fantastic and open daily!)

Locarno on Ice is packed full of action, from musical events to a New Year’s celebration, this is the place to be. Such a lovely city to visit during the holiday season in Switzerland.

It’s hard to pick a favorite Christmas market in Switzerland, they are all so magical and each has it’s own unique flare. No matter which one you decide to visit, I think it will get you into the holiday spirit.


CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort in Zermatt

This past week I had the opportunity to have a girls’ get-away to Zermatt and really enjoyed our stay at CERVO Moutain Boutique Hotel. Posh, yet charming, this hotel combines luxury and comfort. The Matterhorn is Switzerland’s most iconic mountain and the backdrop to the hotel.

Cervo offers chalets with a variety of rooms: from cozy, yet luxurious, to Rooftop Suites. They even have an Owners lodge available. In total there are 36 suites making this resort feel quaint, but yet it also includes all the comforts that are expected at a 5-star Resort.

When we arrived at the train station in Zermatt (almost immediately next to the train platform) was a phone for hotel pick-up, making it convenient to contact the hotel.
The driver transported us only a few minutes up the road to the luxury CERVO Boutique Resort.

Upon arrival at the hotel a welcoming and attentive staff greeted us. Our bags were delivered to our room while we were accompanied to the hotel’s terrace for a champagne welcome drink. Cheers to that! The terrace overlooks the Matterhorn with jaw dropping views.

There was no formal check-in, which was quite refreshing. While sipping on our champagne, the staff provided us with a resort overview and a CERVO events calendar, a much appreciated touch. The calendar mapped out a variety of activities at the Resort, from outdoor movie night, yoga, raclette evenings and more.

After a refreshing glass of cold champagne we sat back and admired the views of the stunning Matterhorn in the distance. Simply breathtaking.

Calm, tasteful and beautifully designed the CERVO (meaning Deer in Italian) carries a rustic yet modern feel that felt very delightful.

The beauty of the hotel location is the proximity to the slopes. CERVO is the only ski-in / ski-out resort in Zermatt meaning you can ski right up to your room or terrace. Imagine that! The sprawling terrace with views of the Matterhorn creates an impression of excitement, especially with a drink in hand after a long day on the mountain.

The boutique resort boasts 2 Restaurants; CERVO Puro and Ferdinand, serving a delicious range of food.

Both the lunch and dinner menu provided us with a choice of dishes beautifully presented and appetizing. We enjoyed their CERVO board with fresh bread, butter infused with flavors, and a variety of cheeses and meats that complimented each other.

The rustic alpine touches throughout were enchanting and gave off a luxury cabin feeling. A place that must feel magical in the winter months with views of the snow covered mountains.

Our Chalet had a breathtaking view of the Matterhorn and all the touches you would expect from a 5 star hotel.

The room had the feel of a beautifully designed hunting lodge. We enjoyed the extra touches in the room from a “Welcome box” filled with goodies (including Swiss Chocolates), to a stocked fridge offered by the hotel.

Vaulted beamed ceilings and hardwood floors, designed with a chalet feel, made it both charming and delightful. A very comfortable king size bed provided us with a relaxing and a luxurious stay.

Views from our balcony were incredible. I mean, how can you ever tire of that view? Most of the suites feature a balcony with a view of the Matterhorn. The balcony was the perfect place for us to lounge and relax.

On the terrace the recliners, warm blankets, Hendricks Gin bottles with flowers all helped enhance the ambiance. All of this beauty at the foot of the Matterhorn was truly a majestic experience.

The scenery from the groud floor spa attached to our Chalet was fantastic. I imagine the snow falling while sitting in the hot tub must feel superb after a long day on the slopes. Each of the chalets (6 units) have their own spa and sauna.

Summertime heat proved to be too much for the spa time, but we look forward to returning in the winter months to experience a magical winter wonderland at CERVO.

You can’t get much closer to the mountain slopes than the base of Sunnegga. The elevator sits directly across the street from the hotel. We took the elevator and rode up in the early morning to hike around, the close proximity made it so we were able to beat the crowds.

A Champagne toast while admiring the Matterhorn was a memorable experience. Our little get away was truly a pleasurable experience, away from the hustle and bustle it felt like a haven of peace and relaxation. The hotel itself has the coziness and uniqueness of what truly makes an alpine hotel special. CERVO Boutique provided us with an air of grace and class.

Hotel Details:

CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort 
Riedweg 156
CH-3920 Zermatt

Phone: +41 27 968 12 12

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Hopefully you enjoyed my review for CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort . A big thank you to the CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort for hosting us. Opinions in the post are my own and based on my own personal experience at the hotel.

Quick 3-day Itinerary for Switzerland (Swiss Alps)

Many people reach out to me looking for advice on visiting Switzerland, in-particular the Swiss Alps. I have created an easy itinerary of what I would recommend on your first visit to Switzerland. If you have more time, of course, I would recommend visiting so much more of Switzerland. But if it is just the Swiss Alps you are looking to visit, I think this may be the perfect start for you.

Day 1:

Morning arrival to the Zürich airport

Take an easy train-ride to the center of Zürich from the airport. Enjoy a stroll through the beautiful city of Zürich with a visit to Zeughauskeller for lunch.

After a short visit in Zürich, catch a late-afternoon train from the Zürich Bahnhof (HB) to Interlaken, only a 2 hour train ride (1.55 mins) It is a delightful train ride through Switzerland with breathtaking views along the way. You can also dine in one of the train cars on your journey.

Spend the night in Interlaken

Interlaken is a quaint village in-between two Lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. If you have time, both lakes have Ferryboats you can take to different villages along the lake. You may want to consider adding another day to explore Interlaken or cut-out Zürich.

Day 2:

Take the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald. Spend some time exploring the town of Grindelwald, then go up the mountain to Kleine Scheidegg. I recommend going to the Kleine Scheidegg from Grindelwald, not only is it cheaper ( return ticket for 62 CHF), but also for the sake of time constraints.

Going to the top of the Jungfrau will put you back about 200 CHF per adult, (Yes, Switzerland is expensive, but the views are PRICELESS) Grindlewald to the top of Jungfrau is 190 CHF for an Adult Return ticket.

For budget travelers, you may want to consider hiking up part of the mountain from the valley. There are many trails and the Tourism office will help you find a good route. During the summertime you can enjoy gorgeous hikes around the area and in the wintertime skiing in the Alps is a dream .

Check out the Jungfrau page for details on the routes for hiking.

Spend the night in Grindelwald

After a day on the Jungfrau take the train back to Grindelwald, enjoy a traditional Swiss meal in one of the many restaurants and spend the night in Grindelwald. There are restaurants scattered throughout the area offering dining with a view.

Day 3:

Explore the Berner Oberland villages of Mürren, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Gimmelwald. Lauterbrunnen is the only town you can drive in, the rest of the villages are car-free so you have to take the train into the towns. All of these villages are a short train ride from Lauterbrunnen. The train ride is an experience itself with magnificent views out the train windows.

Make sure to visit the famous Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen. There are over 70 waterfalls in the valley, but this is the most famous waterfall. It is easy to see why, with the water falling about 300 meters into the valley.

You can take little joy ride on a Toboggan (Rodelbahn) down the Swiss mountains. It is an easy cable-car ride up the mountain from Grindelwald to Pfingstegg. The cable cars open once the snow has melted. (usually mid-June)

After a day exploring a few of these quaint Swiss villages either catch the train back to Zürich in the evening (2.5 hour train ride) or spend your last night in the mountains before returning to Zürich.

Obviously, this is a whirlwind visit to the Swiss Alps. If you want to spend more time hiking and seeing more of Switzerland you would have to add more days to your trip, but I think this is a good start to seeing some of the Swiss Alps and experiencing the beauty of Switzerland.

Things to Consider:

SBB (Switzerland Railway) offers international passes for visitors, for both Adult and Youth Prices (under 26). Train travel throughout Switzerland can be expensive, so taking advantage of the offers through SBB can help save money.

Children from 6-16 can travel free if a parent buys the Swiss Family Card at the Railway station.

If you are flying in and out of Zürich you can easily rent a car but I would also consider taking the train. Swiss Trains are reliable, relaxing and the views along the way are incredible.

Consider adding more days to your vacation and travel down to the Matterhorn in Zermatt. It is a 2 hour train ride from Interlaken to Zermatt. Explore the area of Zermatt for a day or two before taking the train back to Zurich, a 3.5 hour ride.

Do you have any questions on visiting the area? We would love to hear from you.

Beautiful Switzerland

Winter wonderland in Lugano

Lugano may not have snowcapped trees but it definitely has its share of a winter wonderland. It is hard not to to embrace the Christmas spirt in this quaint city.

The Christmas market begins with the lighting of the Christmas tree in the main square of Piazza Reforma and continues throughout the New Year.

(2018 Season 22.11.2018 – 06.01.2019).  Market hours are from 11.00 until 19.00 throughout the season.

Many booths are set up in Piazza Reforma and continue to wind throughout the cobblestoned streets.

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The side-streets are lined with booths and twinkling lights, making one feel the magic of Christmas.  Even after the stands close, the festivities continue in the Piazzas. Bars and restaurants offer Champagne, food and wine. The mulled-wine is perfect to keep one warm in the crisp winter air.

A stroll through Lugano can almost feel magical. Most of the restaurants have outdoor seating that seems to inctise you to cuddle up with their cozy blankets and candlelit tables .

Right outside Piazza Cioccaro  you can find the Gabbini cafe. In the Piazza there are adorable gondola-lifts where you can order fondue and have drinks. I highly recommend to reserve a gondola for dinner, as this is a popular hang-out in the evenings.

Many of the stores participate in the holiday traditions, even offering their own Christmas drinks to their clients. Wether you are just visiting this darling town for the day or for week,  you will quickly fall in love with the spirit of the holidays in Lugano.

The Magic of Christmas in

Lugano Switzerland


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Alpabzug

We finally got to see a Swiss tradition that we have been wanting to experience for years.   In the springtime the cows are taken up the mountains to graze for the summer. Then, at the end of summer, the Swiss farmers bring their cows back down from mountains. It is called the Alpabzug.  Not every Swiss town participates,  you can check out the Swiss tourism site  for participation towns. Usually the Alpabzug takes place in the month of September.


Just near the north entrance of the San Gottardo tunnel, which separates the German from the Italian speaking regions of the country, is a little village called Wassen. We have driven past this village many times but have never stopped.  Wassen is such a quaint Swiss Village.

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The Alphorns are very traditional and actually used by the farmers to call the cows into the barns at milking time.

Alpabzug celebrations are a big deal in these villages. Typically there is a town market where you can get all the local goodies, including raclette and bratwurst for lunch.

Each cow is adorned with a head piece and giant bell. It really is quite the sight to see.

Switzerland has different cantons, which are like states, each canton has their own flag. Wassen is in Canton Uri, which is represented on the yellow flag.

The blue shirt, worn by this farmer, is a traditional Swiss costume. Each Canton has their own type of costume.  Between the 26 Cantons in Switzerland there are over 700 types of tradition Swiss costumes.

The local farmers and their family walk their own herd of cows down the mountain.

We really enjoyed our first experience at the Alpabzug and would highly recommend seeking out one if you are in Switzerland during the month of September.

Our Move Abroad

A few years back I was bitten by a travel bug and this is how it came about.
Our first trip to Europe was over 11 years ago
We traveled to Italy with my parents and  Fell.in.love.
Then 6 months later we found ourselves living in Europe.

I know we sound crazy and looking back I think we were crazy but wouldn’t change it.

A time-line of how our move abroad came to be……..
 

March 2007 – We took our first trip to Europe and loved it but my husband wasn’t quite sure he wanted to move.  We lived by family & friends, had a great job and home and loved where we lived. But it couldn’t hurt to send out a few emails, right?  I started to send out emails all over Europe, focusing mainly on The Netherlands. I spent a lot of time on IT Job board.  I must have sent out a 100 emails.  We started hearing back, most with a response like below sent in April of 2007.
 
Do you have a work permit to work in Europe? That was the million dollar question. And of course, our response was no, we needed someone to sponsor us.
April 2007 We received emails from 3 companies in Germany and Switzerland, all wanting to set up phone interviews.  We had never considered Switzerland and knew nothing about it besides the Matterhorn was there. Screenings went well, followed by more phone interviews. They wanted to meet face to face.
 
May 2007 My husband made his journey out to Switzerland to interview with the companies.  He called me after the interview and I asked him, “So what do you think of Switzerland?” His response, “It’s ok, it’s kind of cold” but by this part I was sold. I wanted to go.
June 2007
Offers were made. We weighed our options between Germany and Switzerland.  Besides the 2 day interviewing we had never been to either country, neither of us spoke German, we knew nothing.  No company at this point could guarantee a working permit either.
July 2007
We submit all passports and documents to start the process to see if we could get a working permit. We still had no idea if this would be a reality. I spent a lot of time on the English Forum, a forum for expats in Switzerland.  I read all about the permit approval process and people’s stories of getting denied, the quota of permits they give out, etc.
 
August 31, 2007
After 8 weeks of waiting we woke up to this email……
 
And just like that, we were moving to Europe! We were on a permanent local hire, so that meant we were moving ourselves.  That also meant, no relocation package, no car, no shipment,nothing.  Most people who move abroad, transfer with companies and get relocation packages. I became our own personal relocation specialist, we spoke no German, making the whole process a 100% harder.  But hey, it was the adventure we signed up for and the reason we decided to move to Europe in the first place, to give our family the experience of living abroad.
September 2007
We sold almost everything we owned, kind of a liberating feeling. We purchased our one way tickets to Switzerland. We said our goodbyes and flew out the last week of September. This is our story of our move abroad in a nutshell.
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   Yes, that is all of the luggage we took to move abroad, 8 bags