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Below you will find a selection of the most recent entries from bloggers in our Leisure section.

To view the entries from individual bloggers, click on the links below:

  • Rachel Beacher is a British journalist who would be ready to backpack around the world tomorrow if she could find an easy way to carry two small and unruly children. She most enjoys travelling to places that are family-friendly, and easily accessible from Geneva. Before becoming an expat in Switzerland, Rachel was a writer and editor for UK newspapers and magazines. She moved to Lausanne in early 2013, speaks passable French, and has been writing travel articles for nearly 15 years.

  • Dean Marriott
    Dean works in Switzerland as an actor, voice-over artist, and onscreen presenter. In his quest for leisure activities, Dean keeps one key thought in mind: if Shakespeare’s words are true and ‘All the world's a stage’, we shouldn’t have to look far in order to be entertained.  We just have to make the time to appreciate it. If you are searching for an element of entertainment in your leisure pursuits and have a desire to look beyond the obvious, then Dean will use his artistic eye to point you in the right direction. 

  • Nicola Ogilvie
    Through her business, Just Sew, Nicola shares her passion for sewing with a new generation. She runs workshops, mostly for children, and teaches in the after-school program of a local international school. She loves the fact that even the youngest get a great sense of satisfaction from their completed projects. After a number of requests, she will soon be offering courses aimed at adults.

  • Oguzhan (Osan) Altun
    Oguzhan (Osan) Altun is a freelance photographer based in Geneva, and one of the founder members of the Geneva Photo Club. He specializes in landscapes, portraits and event photography. His teaching style combines 10 years of training experience in corporate life with contagious passion for photography and the best training materials available online on the net. He is crisp, to the point, and focused on getting the participant practice what she/he learned.

  • Yvette Evers
    As the founder of "fraiche air", a local club providing opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism in English, Yvette has hundreds of ideas for exploring the region including activities such as hiking, showshoeing, powerwalks, ski-touring and family days.

  • Lisa Gibson
    Originally from South Africa, Lisa moved to Switzerland in 2011 with her fiancé. Currently based in Lausanne, she's a freelance and feature writer who started her personal blog as a means of documenting her travels (both in Switzerland and around the rest of Europe) and as a way to share the expat experience with friends and family back home. The saying “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” could not be more true for her.

dean flight blog 1

People often joke about Swiss punctuality and visitors may be somewhat surprised when apologies for a 2-minute delay are voiced over a train’s PA system.  However, for me, this should be the norm, whatever the mode of transport.

Our leisure time is precious.  In Switzerland, the minimum annual leave entitlement for a full-time employment position is 4 weeks (or 20 days).  In addition, there are between 7 and 15 paid public holidays which vary from canton to canton.  Under EU legislation, all member states must grant all employees a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation.  The UK has a statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks (or 28 days), which may include the 8 public holiday days. The US has no statutory minimum paid vacation, although according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, full-time employees become entitled to, on average, 10 days holiday after 1 year of service.

Using part of your annual leave in order to travel to another country takes some planning.  Flights are often booked months in advance and timings selected to maximise use of your time and minimise cost.  So when your flight is delayed by a few hours or, worse still, cancelled, inconvenience is the politest way to describe the impact felt.  

Holiday insurance can often help to compensate, but there is another route for compensation which shouldn’t be overlooked.  All airline passengers, irrespective of nationality or residence, may be entitled to compensation in the event of a flight cancellation or delay of more the 3 hours, when flying within the EU or departing from the EU on an EU or non-EU airline, or arriving in the EU on an EU airline.

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By Micaela Crespo, Expat Lifehacks

Yes, I’ve come to terms with the fact that we cannot rely on our families to take care of simple logistic tasks. We can’t count on our expat friends and connections in our host country, since they’re probably in the same situation than us. I therefore use planning, automation and delegation to take care of these things.

And yet, I always make a small group of friends every time we move to a new place.

And that’s because there are two things that I’ll never be able to obtain from systems and planning: peace of mind and human connection.

When I became a working expat mum in the UK with dad travelling 2 weeks a month, the nights were terrifying. I would dwell in bed reeling over the things that could happen while I was alone. What would I do if anything happened during the night?

When I told a friend I made about my fears, she automatically offered to be my emergency contact and told me I could call her at any time.

This was priceless to me. I had recovered my peace of mind, and I could now sleep again. I felt less alone.

I never had to call her in the middle of the night – fortunately – but I am still extremely grateful for her availability and friendship. Other mums offered the same over time, when I told them what my life looked like.

This gave me a deep sense of human connection and community, even outside of my birth country and family.

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Port de Pollença

By Rachel Beacher, Journalist

Flight bookings have just opened for this autumn and winter 2017/18. For people planning how to spend the colder months, where better than a picturesque Mallorcan port?

'Everyone – the English, the Americans – they all came to Mallorca in the winter.'

So observed the thriller writer Agatha Christie in 1935 in her short story 'Problem at Pollensa Bay'. Indeed, at the time, the major towns of Mallorca were so busy that the author's hero sought refuge towards the less popular north east coast of the island and by chance came across a pretty and bohemian bolthole – Port de Pollença.

I visited Port de Pollença during those pesky school holidays in October, when the weather is usually failing in Vaud and it is still many months until ski season.

I found it to be enduringly enchanting and unmistakably recognisable from Christie's pre-war portrait.

She describes how a private detective, attempting to escape from his work and from the bothersomeness of people in general, falls in love immediately with 'a small hotel standing on the edge of the sea looking out over a view that in the misty haze of a fine morning had the exquisite vagueness of a Japanese print.'

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Having booked our Christmas holiday to Saas-Fee in July 2016 with the knowledge that it was probably our last Christmas in Switzerland, we had no idea that it would prove to be such a poignant visit.  

Looking back over 2016, we can’t help but find ourselves reflecting on the many celebrities who passed away.  The death of George Michael on Christmas Day was one of these sad moments.  It was only upon arriving in Saas-Fee on the morning of 26th December that I heard the news.  It soon became apparent that Saas-Fee had a strong connection with the singer, and after a quick internet search I discovered that the music video for  Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ had been filmed there back in December 1984.

Originally planned to be shot in the Canton of Bern, a last-minute change of location occurred due to a lack of snow, and Saas-Fee became the new setting. In case you are curious, the group and crew stayed at the 5-star Hotel Walliserhof, now renamed the Hotel Ferienart.  Another piece of trivia is that the well-known scene in front of the open fireplace was actually shot in the current culture centre, rather than the chalet shown in the video.

With this knowledge in mind, and having watched the video again, our stay in Saas-Fee took on a new meaning.  Although I cannot claim to have been a huge Wham or George Michael fan, I cannot escape the fact that they were a constant part of my teenage years, and thus, were indeed a part of my life that had come to an end.

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Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival 2015

By Rachel Beacher, Journalist

This weekend the UK will celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, the closest thing the Brits have to Swiss National Day or the Fourth of July.

The fireworks-themed festival commemorates the eleventh-hour capture of a gang of traitors who were attempting to blow up Parliament with 2,500kg of gunpowder. People today burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, the most famous of the group of Catholic plotters, because he was found hiding in the cellars of the House of Lords on 5 November, 1605. Each year there are thousands of public bonfires and fireworks displays held across the country – with the biggest and most breathtaking events in London, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Also known as Bonfire Night, the events are generally extremely family friendly, with children always expected. Tickets, usually free or inexpensive, are required for entry to most events, with the exceptions of Victoria Park and Blackheath. But the shows can be seen from miles around and there are even special viewing cruises along the Thames.

With the plunge of the pound since the UK's shock Brexit vote, it's a great time for people from mainland Europe to head to London for sightseeing and shopping.