Friday October 14th, 2016

Halloween Events in and around Lausanne – 2016


Within the last few years Halloween has steadily become more and more popular in Switzerland. No wonder as it’s so much fun – and so sweet, literally!

Here are some Halloween events that I found around Lausanne:

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Thursday October 13th, 2016

Rendez-vous Bundesplatz – in Bern, 14 Oct – 26 Nov 2016

Below is a blog post that I wrote 3 years ago about this very special light show. This year’s program is promised to be even more spectacular, with The Red Cross at the heart of the story, to mark their 150th anniversary! It will start tomorrow (14th Oct) and will show until 26th Nov. We love Bern and this show is a good excuse for another trip there!

Two weeks ago we went to see Rendez-Vous Bundesplatz, a spectacular light, music and story show, that was projected onto the Parliament Building at the Bundesplatz in Bern. It was a beautiful Saturday evening. We arrived about 40 minutes before the 7pm show and the crowd was just starting. At the last minutes the area got really busy, but not really packed.


The show started Swiss time – on time at 7pm. It was a WOW! Simply amazing and from our spot we could enjoy it easily. I’m a petite (1.54m), but it wasn’t a problem, although in the the photos you’ll see silhouettes of heads 🙂 I saw that many families brought stepping stools for their children to stand on. My 5-yo daughter stood on her brother’s stroller and I carried my 2-yo with an Ergo.

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Tuesday October 11th, 2016

Five Reasons Why Our 5 Year-Old Ran Many Races This Year


– At the 1020Run in Renens

It perhaps seems strange that this post came in autumn, at the end of the running season. But I believe now is the time I could finally write about this topic, after our son (and daughter) participated in enough races to have a general view about our experience. And… there are still a few races coming in the area, so in case you want to know why we’ve been registering our son to so many races, read on…

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Thursday October 6th, 2016

How I Managed to Send Holiday Cards

A friend asked me:

Can you fill me in on your timeline and method for your Christmas cards? Do have an excel sheet with stickers or print to envelopes? I feel like being a grown-up this year. Perhaps you can do a post?

She is right. I have been sending our family holiday cards for the last 7 years, and it does take a high level of organization, especially on the first year.


Prepare the family photo (if the card would have one or more photos)

If you haven’t had the photos from earlier during the year, you may want to book a photographer. Even if you shoot yourself using a timer, schedule a session. Autumn in my opinion is best for outdoor photos. In any case I wouldn’t go later than mid October to have these photos ready, especially by personal experience I know that some countries deliver the cards at a snail pace.

Note that doing a photo session needs careful planning too. You have to choose a time and location, but also think about what clothes to wear and, if it’s important to you, a color palette. Perhaps even props such as balloons, garland, or blackboard to write on. Don’t forget about nap time when you have very young children or babies. And obviously some snack and drink – we don’t want meltdowns, do we?!

Two years ago I used a selfie we already had. It was a selfie that we made on a lazy Sunday morning while we were half watching TV on the sofa. It turned out to be a lovely photo even when the image resolution was low. I turned it black and white, threw in snowflakes vectors and holiday wishes, and it worked. So if you didn’t have the time, energy or money to do a professional session, check the photos you already have! A bit of cropping and filter adjustment could do wonder!noel2015-lm

Last year we did our card differently. As 2015 was a special year for us, we ordered a custom illustration of our family to frame and hang on the wall. But before hanging, I scanned it, added a wreath and wishes, and used it on our holiday card (photo above).

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Wednesday October 5th, 2016

Absentee Voting Info for American Voters Abroad

*Guest blog post*

On this blog I usually steer clear from issues of politics and religions, especially when it doesn’t concern Lausanne and Switzerland. But I understand that the current situation with presidential election in USA very critical, and the impact will be worldwide. As a woman, an immigrant and a muslim, even when I am not an American, I feel I have to help swing the vote against Trump. I hope you agree with me and will vote! – meta –


Written by Amy Mosher Araya

Traditionally, overseas voters have played a big role in U.S elections. WIih over 8 million voters living overseas, these votes can be important game-changers for an already controversial election. In Switzerland alone there are over 40,000 Americans living here and each one of those votes are important this year.

For Americans who live in Switzerland and would like to register to vote, there is still time and your vote has the potential to bring about a big change in the outcome of this presidential election.

For information on how to register, go to Click on your home state to find state-specific instructions to register and deadlines. Note that some states allow everything to be done online, while others may need a signed form to be mailed to your local board of elections, there is still time to do that and have your voice, and vote heard!

If you would like news about local events, news and even getting involved, you can visit the democrats abroad website which has branches all over our area and across Switzerland.

For any other information you can also visit the embassy of the United States for information

Voting is a very important and vital part of being an American, whether living in the country or overseas, we have the wonderful right to vote and have our voice heard. I urge all Americans living here in Switzerland to make sure to register and vote in this election, it could make a very important difference in the future of U.S politics and the direction that the country moves toward in the future.

Monday October 3rd, 2016

The Pink Challenge at the Lausanne Marathon – 2016

Lausanne Marathon is coming at the end of the month, and I am sure many of you runners already know and most likely will run there. However my post here is more directed to those who may want to join the fun even without running, and for a really good cause: To raise awareness of breast cancer!pinkWe know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and within the Lausanne Marathon’s many shorter races, there is the “Pink Challenge”, calling all who can walk for 15 minutes. Adult, teens, kids and babies, even in strollers, are welcome. All who participate officially (fee chf20) will receive perks such as official t-shirt, finisher medal, and small souvenir. The date is Saturday 29 October 2016, start at 2.30pm in Parc de Milan.

Daughter and I will be there (Son will run the 600m earlier that afternoon and husband will run 10K the next day so that they won’t join the girls as it would be too expensive for us). If you are interested to march there too, don’t forget to register asap, as the early registration closes on 10 October 2016. Prices go up (chf30) for registration between 10th and 17th (the closing date).

Hope to see you marching there!

Monday October 3rd, 2016

Baby Feeding Rooms in Lausanne


In general, the Swiss are very tolerant with public breastfeeding. If you can train yourself to do it in a public place, you can just pull a chair in any café and get down to business. I nursed my daughter for 19 months and my son for 2 years and 7 months – so with a total of 4 years and 2 months I believe I can vouch for breastfeeding friendliness in Switzerland. They would even smile and wish bon appétit to my babies. I had nursed everywhere, including inside metro m2 when it was stuck in between stations for 45 minutes and baby got hungry.

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Thursday September 29th, 2016

Le Temps des Dinosaures – Dinosaur Exhibition at Geneva Palexpo


Yesterday afternoon we had the privilege to enjoy an early access to the Dino Expo at the Geneva Palexpo (Hall 7). My 2 kids (age 5 and 8) and I were super excited about it as we love everything dinos. Even when it was a beautiful sunny day, we didn’t mind to go inside the dark exhibition hall.

The entance area host the ticket booth and a café. There was also a cloakroom, but we didn’t use it. Then we collected our audio guides, English for me and French for my kids. The ladies at the ticket and audio guide booths understood when I spoke English to them although they replied to me in French.

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Tuesday September 27th, 2016

Our Trip to Disneyland Paris (2015)

This is not a sponsored post and was first published on 24 June 2015. We finally used our year passes twice, the second time was after Christmas 2015 until New Year.


There are a million ways to go to and enjoy Disneyland Paris. To decide what ways we would choose, I read many websites and forums for tips which were helpful when deciding many things for the trip. Here’s how we did our trip earlier this year (Easter holiday, 5-9 April 2015). By no means I’m saying it’s the best way, but perhaps sharing this, you may find some tips that work for you, too.

We bought 1-year passes

Since Paris (or Marnee-la-Vallée for Disneyland) is only a bit more than 3 hours away, and that we hadn’t had traveling plans for the whole year in 2015, we decided to get the Passeports Annuels and to use them for more than one trip. There are 3 kinds of passes and considering our travel plans, we chose the “Fantasy”, merely due to fewer restriction dates as well as discounts in restaurants and shops. Unlike the cheaper “Francilien”, this one can be used immediately and offers the extra “Magic Hours” and free parking  (you can read about the differences between the passes here).

I bought the e-tickets in advance at (and then exchanged them to the plastic cards at the Park on the first day of visit). In Lausanne you can buy these tickets through fnac, however I found that there the tickets cost more. Not too much more but the difference was significant when multiplied by four. In general whether you buy year or day pass, I’d recommend to buy them earlier as otherwise you’ll have to queue in front of the ticket booth. And since in Disneyland you’ll stand in lines all day, do minimize the unnecessary queuing!

The total cost for 4 Fantasy passes was 717.45 (2015 price + 1.45 fee), making it the biggest chunk of the whole budget. However as we went for four days, that was only 20 more than if we bought the normal priced park tickets for 2 adults (47 each) and 2 children (EUR40 each) for 4 days (total of 696).

Note that if you stay in one of the Disney hotels, park tickets are usually included and thus can be cheaper vs buying tickets and booking hotel rooms separately.


We bought the train tickets 3 months in advance

We went by train, via Geneva. The TGV Lyria from Geneva took us directly to Marne-la-Vallée TGV station which is directly in front of Disneyland. The trip took around 3 hours.

I booked the tickets exactly 3 months in advance, as the train tickets at SNCF only go on sale from 3 months in advance, and by then reduced priced tickets are still available. It may not be necessary to really buy the tickets that on the same day as they go on sale, but that’s just the kind of person I am 😉

Total cost for 2 adults, 1 child (4-12) and one baby (0-under 4) including seat reservations for all was 140 one way.

We stayed at a hotel-apartment

One of the reason we skipped Disney hotels was to avoid having to eat in restaurants all the time. So, we chose to stay at a hotel-apartment and thus could prepare own breakfast and dinner. The hotel (Adagio) was located next to a huge shopping center where there was a huge supermarket. So we bought the groceries there – around EUR20 for food and snack for the whole 4-day stay! I could so get used to French grocery prices! 🙂

We had a few meals in the park and Disney Village and here’s what we spent for 2 adults and 2 children (age 3 and 6):

  • McDonald’s Disney Village – 45
  • New York Style Sandwiches – 45
  • Au Chalet de la Marionnette – 50
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet Restaurant – 60

Those listed above were the restaurants on the cheaper range (and we had 10% discount thanks to the year pass). We could not afford to go to the more expensive ones, which was one of the reasons that…

We skipped the dining with Disney characters

Although this must be one of the most fun things to do in Disneyland, the prices were just too expensive for us. And, we happen to have very shy kids that we suspect may even shrink to the seats when the characters come. So, no dining with the Disney characters, but I don’t think the kids missed it at all, as they could meet the stars at other places throughout the parks.

That said, go if you could afford it!

Still on the subject of meals, check the Meal Plans offered by the Parks. You may find one that suits your needs and budget.


We arrived early at the park and used FastPass when possible

As our year passes offer us the extra “Magic Hours” between 8-10am for the Disneyland Park (not the Studio Park that opens at 10am), we did our best to arrive early at the gate. These extra hours really made the difference. Not all rides and attractions were open for these extra hours, but it was still cool to be able to squeeze in more rides before the park became crowded.

The Walt Disney Studio Park officially starts at 10am, although the gates were opened half an hour earlier. The most popular ride at the moment was the Ratatouille, so my suggestion is to go there directly. You can either go to the ride line, or the FastPass line. If you go directly to the ride line when the ride just opens, you’ll be inside in minutes even when the line looks super long. Come later and it may take as long as 70min. We did this ride with FastPass – when we first got inside the Studio Park at around 9:40, hubby and kids directly went to rides with almost no queue (Cars and Toy Story ones) while I got our FastPasses for Ratatouille. This ride btw, is awesome! Not to be missed!

The rides we used FastPasses with our 3 and 6-yo were:
– Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, Disneyland Park
– Peter Pan’s Flight, Disneyland Park
– Ratatouille: The Adventure, Walt Disney Studio

If you have older kids, you can also use of the “single rider” lines for some rides.


We had early lunch

We went early to lunch to beat the crowd, usually around 11-11:30am. This saved us from long queues. However, we found that many Meet-Characters events took place at these lunch hours (obviously to draw the crowd from the dining area), so if your kids can’t skip meeting with Rapunzel or Buzz Lightyear, pack some snack and go for late lunch instead.

We brought snacks and water

The official Disneyland page says you can’t take food and drinks inside, but it’s not really true (read here). In fact you should always have snack and water with you. The range of snack that the parks offer are not what I would normally give my kids, and most of the times there were long lines. When we were there for some reasons I didn’t understand most water fountains did not work. I only found 2 that worked, so we usually filled up our bottles there. Bottled water and other bottled drinks were also sold at some of the souvenir shops where the cashier lines were better than at the food stalls.

You can also bring lunch-type food such as sandwiches, although the Parks forbid a real picnic. We saw many visitors ate sandwiches while waiting for a show (outside the theater before the doors were opened)


We spent a few days

I knew what to expect with queuing times in Disneyland as I had been to the Disneyworld in Orlando many years ago. So when I planned this trip I realized that we would enjoy it better when we go for a few days (four in this case) instead of just a weekend. It worked really well. We had to wake up and go out the door earlier to enjoy the extra Magic Hours, but inside the Parks we never felt that we had to rush going from one ride to another. We knew we would have the time, and having the year pass also assured us that we would come back another time within a year.

Note that four days were still not enough to do all rides and attractions, but we were totally satisfied with the trip.


A few additional notes

There were many sites that offered excellent tips and I found two very helpful:

I also downloaded the iPhone App, but honestly I didn’t use it much. It was not very accurate regarding wait times for rides, and there was no public Wi-Fi in the parks so that I had to use the 3G/4G roaming data plan from my provider. I believe I only used it to check for restaurant prices (marked by the number of €s).

The maps provided at the Parks were the ones we extensively used as we could only find the schedule of actual events (shows, meet-the-characters) there. They are available in different languages so make sure to pick one up when you enter the park.

We were blessed with lovely weather (sunny and blue sky) but underestimated how cold it would still be in April. So even though we had our spring jackets with us, we ended up buying pullovers at the souvenir shops!

And finally, the (rough) calculation of what we spent for 2 adults and 2 kids (3 & 6) for 4 days in Disneyland:

  • Park year passes = 717.45
  • Train tickets = 280
  • Hotel = 467.52
  • Food = around €250
  • Souvenirs = around 250
  • Total = 1964.97

Not cheap at all but it was really as cheap as we could get at that time! And now excuse me while I book for another Disneyland Paris trip for Christmas time 🙂

Hope this post is helpful! Have you been there and have tips to share? Leave a comment! x

Monday September 26th, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why Swiss Trains are Family-friendly

*Re-post from January 2015*

It may come as a surprise to many that we don’t have a car. Being a family of four and living outside urban areas, some people may find it unimaginable. But we have adapted our lifestyle to it and the excellent public transport in Switzerland has been spoiling us. Here are the reasons why we love and stick with it:

1. The Family Coach and Family Zone

I have blogged about the family coach before. This coach is especially good for going to the airports as these trains passed Geneva as well as Zurich airports. On the lower deck you can leave your stroller and on the upper deck the kids can roam around and play.

On some trains that do not have the space for family coach – the InterCity and InterCity tilting trains, there are family zones, complete with board games. More info here.

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