Posts Tagged ‘summer’

August in Italy

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

by Tina Ferrari

A common summer view in Italy

A common summer view in Italy

While the rest of the world carries on with its business, in the month of August, Italy shuts down, and lights up.  By mid-August half the country is on vacation, offices and stores are closed, and those running shops and restaurants in tourist locations become very, very busy.

Calici di Stelle - Lecce turns into one big wine tasting.

Calici di Stelle - Lecce turns into one big wine tasting.

Lecce has been completely on fire with Italian and European tourism.  Recently we had an event called Calici di Stelle, which is a wine tasting event that coincides with the meteor shower on the night of San Lorenzo.  The idea is that you buy a glass for ten Euros, and then wander about Lecce’s historical center, stopping at the various tasting stations, and eventually happening upon the observatory where you can watch the sky and hope to see a shooting star.  At the same time, local artist Alessandra Bray was exhibiting, and I was giving her a hand (between tastings, of course).  I have never seen Lecce so crowded – it was impossible to move!  While the idea of the historic center turning into one big wine tasting is a nice idea (and who doesn’t love Southern Italian wine?), it’s hard to really appreciate what you’re tasting when you are too busy dodging people.

I’ve managed to squeeze in some visits to the beach, and the difference between August and a couple months ago is huge.  In June, I could rent an umbrella with two lounge chairs and there would always be something available.  In August, if you don’t rent in advance you are out of luck.  So during the month of August, you can find me on the “spiaggia libera”, public beach, where none of the umbrellas match.  I don’t mind – I just feel lucky to live so close to the sea.

When I first heard about August vacations, I imagined a relaxing month – but I’m finding that it’s quite the opposite!  So much to do!  And if you really need to get something important done, best to wait until September when everyone is open again.  Even the local cinema was closed for a week!

What is August like where you live?

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy. She writes at AffordableCallingCards.net as well as on her own blog, Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

How to stay cool in Switzerland

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Jump in Lake Zurich. People do that.

Jump in Lake Zurich. People do that.

By Chantal Panozzo

I’m not complaining about the heat. I’ve been dying for summer ever since, oh, last fall, but when it actually gets hot in Switzerland, it can be hard to deal with for one reason: no air conditioning.

Whether I’m sweating in a conference room, on a train, or in a store, I always look around at the other people and wonder what’s wrong with them.

The Swiss don’t seem to sweat. They shut the window on the train when I open it, they wear stiletto boots in the summer, and then they all sit there in long pants watching me sweat in my tank top.

Ok. Maybe I am complaining about the heat.

I don’t know if I can’t deal with hot because I grew up with A/C and my body is now in denial, but it’s a strange phenomenon. Anyhow. The point is that some of us expats in Switzerland may need a little cooling off. So here are a few suggestions of where to go and what to do:

One: The local swimming pool. Most communities in Switzerland have fantastic facilities—clean, inexpensive (yes), and in beautiful settings—next to lakes, on hilltops, or beside rivers. Check your local city’s website to locate yours.

Two: Drink a local beer. Many towns in Switzerland have their own breweries and distribute their beer only locally. For example, in Baden, they produce Müller beer and it’s hard to find outside the city. But you can enjoy a glass at the beer garden, right next to the Müller Brewery.

Three: Float down the river. In Zurich, Baden, Bern and other Swiss cities, there are banks on their respective rivers that are used as “beaches” and there are also designated sections of each river on which you can float on a raft along with the current.

Four: Water-ski. Only the Swiss would combine a ski lift with a lake so you can water-ski on Lake Neuchatel while a rope tow pulls you along at 18 miles an hour. I haven’t tried it since I can’t even ski on snow, but for those of you that can, have fun.

Where do you go to cool off in Switzerland?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Great Hikes in Switzerland

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
The Five Lakes Hike near Pizol

The Five Lakes Hike near Pizol

By Chantal Panozzo

Summer, I know you’re out there. As I write this, it is June 2, and I haven’t seen the sun for about a month. While gray and fog are typical for Switzerland, this has been a rather unfortunate spring.

That’s why this post is dedicated to get you into the mountains (i.e. at an altitude above the gray and fog). Just like during the Swiss winter, sometimes in the summer you also have to ascend a few thousand feet to get your dose of Vitamin D.

Here are a few suggestions for hikers (and sunbathers) in Switzerland:

Mt. Rigi

The great thing about Mt. Rigi is not only its proximity to Zurich, but also the way that you can hike (or not hike) parts of the main trail due to the efficient railway that makes scheduled stops along the mountain. And if you just want to sunbathe, that’s ok too, there are several restaurants with fantastic terraces at the top of the mountain, which is directly reachable by train. Bonus: the Rigi railway now accepts the GA travel card.

The Five Lakes Hike (5-Seen Wanderung)

This is a tough hike. You are not just walking around five lakes. You are climbing up and descending from a lake and then starting the process all over again. The turquoise lakes and camera-worthy scenery make the blisters worth it though. But keep in mind, if you do the whole hike, it will most likely take you all day. And the chair lift that brings you back down the mountain closes exactly at 5 p.m. So start early.

The Bürgenstock Felsenweg Hike

This is an easy and scenic hike along the side of a ridge overlooking Lake Lucerne. The highlight is the option to take a short cut and ride the Hammetschwand-Lift, a crazy elevator that the Swiss built into the mountain in 1905 for the novelty of proving they could do it.

What hikes do you recommend in Switzerland?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Three Things Your Nose Knows about Italian Summers

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

The April showers have hopefully come and gone and here in southern Italy, we are preparing for another smoldering summer. You know how I know? My nose knows.

Here are three clues your nose will tell you about summertime in Calabria.

1. You will be overcome by the smell of orange blossoms

orange blossoms, expat life in italy

A couple of weeks ago I walked outside and was struck by an overpowering scent of blooming flowers, mixed with sweet citrus, mixed with something else I couldn’t quite discern.

“But what is that smell,” I asked my husband after I’d looked around to see if someone had dropped a bottle of $100 perfume on our doorstep.

“It is so strong.”

He smiled and pointed across the driveway to the alleyway of orange trees that line the drive.

The blossoms had been showing signs of life for days but on that particular morning, they burst from their bulbs with all of the force they could muster and sprayed our garden.

And it was heavenly.

2. You will smell the lavender

purple flowers

While not as strong as the orange blossoms in the driveway, the flowers that have grown over our walkway are equally inviting. We have an old bench, sitting near the canopy of ivy and lavender that is faded from too many years in the Calabrian sun. Once springtime hits and summer is on its way, that bench becomes a light beckoning me to grab a book and a pair of sunglasses and just bask.

And bask I do … .

3. You can smell the beach

expat life in italy-catanzaro lido beach

Just a few days ago my husband lifted his head into the air, wiggled his nose and said, “Ahhh, you can smell the beach!”

And we are a couple of miles away.

After the orange blossoms and lavender have left their distinctive marks, the summer sands start stirring and you can smell the breeze off of the Ionian Sea.

When you are lucky enough to be able to distinguish among these summer scents, you can experience the changing of the seasons in a whole new way. If you are like me, and think someone dumped perfume on your welcome rug every time a new tree blooms, then you still have a few things to learn.

Lucky for us, we can try next year.

Cherrye Moore is a Calabria travel consultant and freelance writer living in southern Italy. She writes about expat life for Affordable Calling Cards and about traveling in Calabria her own site, My Bella Vita.

Summer – Santiago style

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Down here in the Southern Hemisphere, we’re sweating basking in the glow of summer. Last year, I spent almost every January and February weekend by a friend’s pool. As a self-admitted tanorexic (no really, you can be too skinny, but I’m not sure you can ever be too tan), pool time is a key feature of any summer.

This year, however, we have a problem. While most newer apartment buildings in Santiago come with pools, over this past year my friends and I all seem to have ended up in houses and apartments without. Obviously the lack of pool is a challenge to say the least. Enter the public pool.

Growing up in California, I never went to a public pool. I had my own in my backyard, as did many of my friends. In fact the only time I can remember ever going to one is in France, of all places. My family and a few others had rented a house in a small village, and when we kids rebelled against the monotony of days filled with the croissants, cafés and contemplation of slow-paced village life, our parents brought us to the local pool for an afternoon.

Club Providencia - ready for the sunbathers to arrive

Club Providencia - ready for the sunbathers to arrive

Today I had my first semi-public pool experience. I say semi because I went to Club Providencia’s pool. The club is a gym and social club run by the municipality of Providencia, one of Santiago’s comunas. The fact that people pay to be members (the gym is members-only) makes me hesitate to call this a 100% public pool, but they do let anyone pay to visit the pool for one day. Works for me.

It seems like a lot (or even most) of the municipalities have piscinas municipales, but I don’t know much about them. I knew La Florida had a few only because they ran a promotion with the Santiago metro system last year offering discounts for charging your metro card with a certain amount. A quick search, however, reveals all sorts of pools all over the place!

Tupahue pool on San Cristóbal

Tupahue pool on San Cristóbal

Despite this apparent smorgasbord of aquatic options, there’s no doubt as to the best-known pools in Santiago. The two pools on top of Cerro San Cristóbal – Tupahue and Antilén – hold that title. They’re really big with fancy designs and great views, and they get packed in the summer. I’ve never gone in either, but after today’s first dip into the public pool waters, I’m starting to think I may have to have this quintessential Santiago experience before summer ends.

Emily Williams is a US gringa living in Santiago, Chile. She writes about expat life at AffordableCallingCards.net and on her personal blog, Don’t Call Me Gringa, and loves hearing from readers!

Endless…winter?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

It’s November, and that means that we should be sweating down here in the Southern Hemisphere. This year, however, not yet, much to my dismay.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsalgado/ / CC BY 2.0

In fairness, last summer stuck around a bit longer than usual. So I could forgive an extra week or two of winter. September 18, Chile’s independence day and time for long weekends and general merry-making, is usually considered the start of spring. After that date we still get plenty of grey, chilly days, but it’s usually heating up more or less definitively by mid-October.

But this? This seems like overkill. This morning was overcast, and I froze in my 3/4-sleeve jacket, wishing I’d opted for fuller coverage. Sure, by the time I got out of work it was decent enough, but by no stretch of the imagination was it hot.

Most Chileans I know are similarly frustrated by this shy summer, but they’re not too worried about it yet. That’s because unlike me, they didn’t hear about the Northern Hemisphere’s awful, cold, wet summer. As soon as I saw raindrops fall in California in JUNE, I started hoping Chile wouldn’t get hit with its own weird weather during what should be the warmer months.

I’m not giving up hope just yet. We’ve had enough nice, warm and even hot days to give me hope that this might just be a fluke, and by this time next month I might be missing the cool mornings and downright cold nights. But I will say that I’m starting to get worried. Weather gods, if you’re listening, please bring a little summer to Santiago.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsalgado/ / CC BY 2.0

Emily Williams is a US gringa living in Santiago, Chile. She writes about expat life at AffordableCallingCards.net and on her personal blog, Don’t Call Me Gringa, and loves hearing from readers!

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