Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our First Eurovision

A few weeks ago, Matt was flipping TV channels over dinner and, quite by accident, stumbled on Eurovision, an annual European music competition. Participating countries each submit a song and performer(s) to compete in a live, televised, three day event. Rounds 1 and 2 introduce each country's song and audience voting results are combined with scores from a panel of judges determine which countries move on to perform in the finale, during which, top acts perform once again, and live voting and judges scores name an annual winner.

We were immediate sucked in by Eurovision's truly bizarre mix of music, from polished pop ballads to strange "modern" takes on traditional folk music. I have no idea how countries select their performers or the talent level of their pool of contestants, but some of their submissions were... ill advised, to say the least... making for very amusing television.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Exploring Switzerland's Italian Side in Lugano

Lake Lugano and Monte San Salvatore, http://sleachmouradventures.blogspot.com
Monte San Salvatore across Lake Lugano
Since our arrival in Switzerland, I've been pestering Matt for a trip to Ticino, the Italian region of Switzerland. I hear wonderful things about Tucino - its scenic beauty, the abundant sun, tasty food and wine and the (very un-Swiss) disregard of schedules and clocks by locals and visitors alike. It sounds like the Swiss-Italians could be my people! I couldn't wait to visit.

The first weekend in May, a nice long holiday weekend for Matt, was the perfect opportunity to hop on a train and make our way South. We booked a hotel in Lugano, a small Swiss town located on Lake Lugano, just minutes from the Italian border.

The train ride from Zurich to Lugano was unexpectedly gorgeous. Don't get me wrong. Most train rides in Switzerland are scenic. My twice weekly commutes into the city have beautiful mountain and lake views. But the train to Lugano was special, slowing climbing up into the Swiss Alps. I planned to read, but spent most of the trip with my nose pressed to the window watching snow capped mountains, waterfalls of snow melt and adorable mountain towns. Unfortunately, iPhone photos through windows can't do it justice. You'll just have to take my word, or come visit.

We arrived in Lugano mid-morning and checked into Hotel Federale, conveniently located just below the train station and a few steps from the Old Town. We dropped our things and went straight to the lake.