Thursday June 23rd, 2016

Luggage and flight luggage from the SBB/CFF (Updated)

bagage-heavy

On our long-haul trip to Asia 5 years ago, my husband and I flew with 3 large suitcases, 1 80L hiking backpack, 1 cabin bag, 1 umbrella stroller, 2 small backpacks, a 3.5 year-old toddler and a 6 month-old baby. Unfortunately the airline (Emirates) didn’t offer the possibility to check-in at the station, and as we had no car, we were supposed to take everything on the train with us to the Zurich airport.

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Thursday June 16th, 2016

Permit Expires While Abroad? You May Need a Return Visa!

return

For some of us, our nationalities restrict us from leaving and re-entering Switzerland without a valid Swiss residency permit. Now that we have lived in Switzerland for more than a decade, it happened to us several times that our permits expired during the times we were abroad. In those cases we had to apply for return visas (visas de retour) before leaving Switzerland, since otherwise we may not be able to re-enter Switzerland.

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Tuesday June 14th, 2016

Teachers and Day-Care Childminders – Should You Give Presents?

A re-post from June 2015

teachers-gifts

We are only a couple of weeks to end-of-school term, and are also nearing the summer holiday time of many day-cares. I have heard questions regarding presents for teachers and day-care childminders around this time, as well as before Christmas. What is the norm here in Switzerland?

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Tuesday May 31st, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Donating to Second-hand Shops

clutters

In the past I have blogged about donating plastic bags, textile, shoes, maternity and baby items, bikes, and how to sell your stuff. But once a year for the last 4 years I have been doing huge clean-up the easiest way by dumping donating all my clutters, big and small, to a local second-hand shop.

Honestly, this is my most preferred way of getting rid of clutters. First, I don’t need to sort through different things and bring them to different places. Second, it saves my time and energy to bring them anywhere – as in my case the shop came to pick up! Third, I can donate just about anything… from candles, books, baby gear to mattress and dining table.

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Monday May 23rd, 2016

Gurten Park – in Wabern (Bern)

Re-post from last year. Originally published May 2015.

My kids and I have often been in Bern within last few years as a close friend lived there. In fact, Bern had been our main destination for many school holidays. And we could never skip Gurten on a sunny day and it remains one of our most favorite spots in Bern. Bern is close enough from Lausanne to do a day trip (around 1h one way by train or car), and we could totally spend a whole day at Gurten alone.

Gurten for Bern is like Ouchy or Sauvabelin for Lausanne, it’s the place where the locals let go the busy city and breath the fresh air. But unlike Ouchy where we go down to the lakeside, Gurten is located at the top of the hill above Bern, and not accessible by car. There is a train station (Wabern, Gurtenbahn) at the foot of the hill as well as car parking. Then everyone goes up the hill by climbing the stairs (free) or with the funicular “Gurtenbahn” (for a small fee).  Strollers can be brought in at the end of the funicular, and as far as I know, most (if not all) areas are stroller- and wheelchair-accessible.gurten-viewbelow

Once you get to the top and out of the funicular, you will be greeted by a view to the city of Bern, lots of greenery, and grazing highland cattles. Ahhhh…

A few steps from the funicular stations starts a huge space for younger kids, with tons of fun activities. My kids usually directly go to the kids cars (fueled by CHF1 coins. In the warmer months only)

gurtenpark-car1

gurten-car2

My oldest also love this hands-and-feet-on huge rolling ball tracks (below) where she can move a ball through the complicated tracks by using the tools correctly. This involves lots of pulling, pushing, pedaling, and lifting. A really amazing thing.

gurten-tinguely

There are also a huge climbing frame for the bigger kids as well as a smaller one for the tots.

gurten-climbing

And then… this super cute paddling pool “Aquaris”. The water may look very green but that’s because the pool quality is maintained naturally and organically. Yes, kids may sometimes chance upon a frog here.

gurten-pool1

This raft alone makes me want to be a child again. How fun it is!

gurten-raft

While we have only tried the parts of the park that were designated for younger kids, there are so many other things that people of all ages can enjoy here, including walking and bike tracks, outdoor live music and many festivals during the warmer months. In winter, when there is enough snow there are sled tracks and children ski schools. We always eat a picnic there but there are restaurants and food carts to go to when hunger strikes.

There is also a mini train that my kids have always had to sit on, but somehow I couldn’t find a photo in my computer. But you can see the photo of the mini train and many more on their website, or check the video below of the play area of the park.

 

 

The best of all, is that you don’t need to plan too much to go here. Just pick a sunny day to go to Bern and go up from the city!

 

Gurten_rauf

 

More info:
Gurten – Park im Grünen
3084 Wabern (Bern)
+41 31 970 3333

Tuesday May 10th, 2016

Spring Cleaning: Selling Your Stuff

books-sold

When things start to pile up, it may be time to declutter! The good news is, there are few things more rewarding than receiving money for things you just want to rid of the house. There are many ways to sell and you may need to go through different ways for different items.

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Monday May 2nd, 2016

What Your Child Needs for the First Year of School

school-need

I learned that many parents (I was one) were eager to get the official list of items their children would need for the first year of school early. One of the reasons is usually to buy those things cheaper while they go on summer holiday abroad.

But the truth is, the “official” things listed are not many. And all can be bought here inside CH inexpensively. The list usually short and consists of:

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Thursday April 21st, 2016

Summer Holiday Activities in Lausanne and Around (2016)

ouchy-summer

Now that the warmer (though rather wet) days are here, it’s time to think of school summer holiday! :)

For those not yet familiar with the school here, school kids in Switzerland have holidays often, approximately every 6 weeks (find the list here). This may create headaches to many parents, especially ones who are employed. Chatting around, I found that most employed couple rely on help from grandparents or families (who sometimes fly from another side of the planet). Or hire a temporary nanny when they can afford one. Or they take turns taking off days from their office. But considering the active life of kids, even the stay-at-home parents need programs to keep those little ones and teens happily occupied.

Below I complied different kinds of activities and camps that are offered during the school holidays in Lausanne and surrounding areas. Please click the links for more info.

As a general rule, the winter holiday after Christmas and the Relâches (February) are considered ski holiday thus most of the sport camps offered concentrated into this. For other holidays, activities are more varied.


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Tuesday April 12th, 2016

What You Must Know: Photographs of Identifiable People in Switzerland

With the warmer months coming, and especially the outdoor swimming pools to open shortly, I feel the need of a re-post as this is a topic that needs to be known and remembered.  (Original post dated June 2015)


photo-people-CH

On Saturday 24heures ran an article on regulations of photographing people in public space, in this case within the area of public swimming pools. Yes, that includes photos of own children. Based on this regulations, dated back to decades ago, it is forbidden to take photos at all – though the article also explains that in practice it really depends on the circumstances (Does the child wish to be photographed? Does the child know the photographer? etc)

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Tuesday March 22nd, 2016

Second-hand Shop: La Boutique Terre des Hommes in Flon

If you have been following this blog for a while, you probably know my love for second-hands. The boutique of Terre des Hommes in Flon quickly became a favorite. For those who are not familiar with Terre des Hommes (TdH) it is an international children’s rights organization that was founded in Lausanne in 1960. It is a charitable organization thus the boutique is run by volunteers and proceeds from sales go to finance TdH projects.

boutique-TDH-1

The boutique is located in the basement so even if you had been in Flon many times, you may have missed it. They share the same building as the restaurant “Bistrot du Flon”, you just need to find the elevator or stairs to reach the basement.

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