My first new blogger mistake

It has been very quiet here at Simple Family Travel blog. 

I started the Simple Family Travel Instagram account all guns blazing and continue to post there daily. I quickly launched the blog, which I believed was the natural progression I needed to take. I launched it far before I was ready. First time blogger mistake number 1: don’t launch without a plan.

Learning patience isn't easy. 

Learning patience isn't easy. 

I was a little impatient and wanted to make my mark on the travel bloggers scene quickly, without taking into account all the work that needed to be done. I tend to do this in all aspects of my life, get very excited for new projects, jump in feet first. But I quickly loose steam once things get difficult. Totally against the slow intentional life I am creating for myself. 

Over the past months, I have been organizing and reorganising my thoughts. Working with a life coach and figuring out the direction I want to take. I am currently enjoying weekly writing assignments which is proving challenging as well as inspirational. I am in experimental mode. Working hard with the hope of launching something exciting in the future. 

I am not going to rush this, when I am ready this space will be ready and waiting for me. 

Until then, pop over to Instagram where I share my love of all things Switzerland and simple family travel at @simplefamilytravel and all things slow intentional living @asimplefamily.

Christmas in Switzerland

Christmas in Switzerland - Simple Family Travel

For this Australian, Switzerland at Christmas time is what childhood dreams are made of, full of traditions, twinkly christmas lights and snow (well hopefully)! Christmas in Australia couldn’t be more different, with most of the celebrations taking place outside with fresh seafood in the middle of a hot and humid summer. I think deep down, most Australians wish to experience at least one white christmas, and I for sure was one of them. I remember the first time I saw it snow here, and excitedly calling my mother in Australia, waking her at 2am. I still get excited when the first snow falls (we are still waiting down in the Valley!) but I also enjoy the christmas season here as well. I love that the whole month of December is filled with little traditions that make the season more than just two days at the end of the month, it makes it even more special. Here are a couple of our very favorite highlights. 

The Christmas season in our family starts with an Advent Wreath (Adventkranz) on the first Sunday in Advent. Advent Wreaths can be easily found for purchase in Supermarkets, Florists or Markets - or many families make their own. This year our 11 year old made our Advent Wreath for the first time and we are very impressed with her work.

Christmas in Switzerland - Advent Wreath

As a family we take always take the time to visit a Christmas Market at some point in December. In the past we have always visited the Einsiedeln Christmas Market at the beginning of December. The beautiful church is the backdrop to this week long market.  However this year we are mixing it up a bit and hope to visit the markets in Zurich and visit the Swarovski Christmas Tree at Zurich Main Station. Most areas of Switzerland have a Christmas market of some kind at some point during the season - the Swiss Tourism has a great list.

Christmas in Switzerland - Einsiedeln Christmas Market
Christmas in Switzerland - Einsiedeln Christmas Market

The traditions continue with a visit from Samichlaus around 6th December (the feast day of St. Niklaus) Samichlaus and his two helpers called Schmutzli, visit children and bring them treats such as peanuts, gingerbread, chocolates and mandarins. Samichlaus has a special book with what each child has done well, and perhaps not so well during the year and encourages the children to do better by his next visit. Around this time we also bake Grittibanz, made out of a sweet milk dough. 

 

Christmas in Switzerland - Samichlaus

On the eve of the 6th December is Chlausjagen. Literally translated as Chasing the Chlaus, it is said to have its roots in pre-christian pagen traditions in chasing away the wild sprits. Men and boys dress in white Hirtenhemd and carry Trycheln or Cow Bells around the village. Each village has its own tradition with how it organizes this event, with the most famous being the Küssnachter Klausjagen. This year will be the first time our Son takes part in this tradition, a tradition that his father took part in for many years. Locally, each group has someone with a Iffelen (latern worn on the head made out of cardboad and tissue paper), someone with a whip (that is cracked) and the rest with cow bells. Older groups may have a Samichlaus and Schmutzlis with them. This is a rather noisy night in our village, with many of the older groups out until all hours of the morning.

Christmas Cookies didn’t have a big place in my home growing up. We may of been lucky to receive some butter cookies in a hamper, but traditional cookies did not really have a place in an Australian Christmas. However since living in Switzerland, I have embraced not only the Swiss cookies, but also recipes from our expat friends. Each Christmas I take part in a Christmas Cookie Exchange. Each participant bakes one sort of cookie and brings enough so that each person at the swap can take half a dozen of each sort home. The idea is that at the end of the swap you will have a lot of different cookies to try over the holiday season with only having to bake one sort of cookie. Over the past couple of years I have always made these soft Gingerbread cookies, and they are always a hit. We also make these cookies for the kids school and instrument teachers. 

Christmas in Switzerland - cookie exchange

The weekend before Christmas we go and buy our Christmas Tree. In Australia I always grew up with a plastic tree that we put up around December 1st. The Swiss like to put their tree up only on Christmas Eve. So we had to find a nice compromise and decided to put up the tree a week before Christmas. We go all together to search for the perfect tree - not too big, not too bare - and bring it home to decorate. 

Christmas in Switzerland - Simple Family Travel

When it comes to Christmas itself, our Swiss Family celebrate Christmas on the 24th evening. We go to Church for Christmas Carols before having dinner with family. After dinner we light lots of candles, sit around the (real!) christmas tree and sing christmas carols as a family before exchanging gifts. The kids also usually prepare a song or two on their instruments. Santa Claus doesn’t visit Swiss children at Christmas as he does in Australia, but rather the gifts are from Baby Jesus (Christkindli). 

This is very different to how we celebrate in Australia, with Santa visiting while children are sleeping on Christmas Eve, waking up to a Christmas Tree full of presents under the often fake Christmas Tree. In Australia the 25th is the main event, with families gathering in the back yard to have a bbq, or enjoy prawns and salads. It is usually very hot, and a swim would never be a bad idea. 

We had adapted a little bit of my Aussie Christmas Traditions, with Santa bringing our children one gift while they are sleeping on Christmas Eve. We spend quality time just the five of us on Christmas Morning, opening presents, having breakfast and then spending time on Facetime with family back in Australia. The rest of our Swiss Family arrive either for lunch or dinner and we celebrate again at my inlaws with more yummy food, christmas carols around the tree and don't forget the cookies! 

What are your favorite parts of the Christmas Season? 

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Rega: Heros in the sky.

Simple Family Travel: Rega - Heros in the sky

When we are planning our holidays, worst case scenarios don't often cross our minds. We are of course focused on the fun and adventure that is ahead of us and not on the slim chance that something could go wrong. But just in case we have health insurance to cover illness, travel insurance in case something doesn’t go to plan, but we are also patron’s of Rega - the Swiss Air Rescue Service

Rega: Heros in the Sky - Simple Family Travel

I had no plans to write a blog post about Rega today. But as I opened my mailbox this afternoon, the Rega magazine stood out amongst the bills and newspapers, with the headline “Familienflug nach Frontalkollision”  (translated: Family Flight after frontal collision)  grabbing my attention.

Instead of putting the magazine on the side to read later like I usually do, I took the time to sit down and read the article about the young Swiss family holidaying in the U.K. who were involved in frontal car collision while driving in Cornwell on holidays. The accident landed both parents in hospital with extensive injuries, the children were lucky to escape with just minor injuries. As the family are patron’s of Rega they were, once the parents were stable enough to fly, flown back to Switzerland on board a Rega Ambulance Jet so that they could continue there treatment in the familiar environment of their home country, closer to family. 

I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be involved in such an accident, let alone in a foreign country. In all that transpired, what comfort it must of given them knowing that Rega would sort out all the logistics of bringing them back home. All this made possible thanks to be a patron of Rega, for a family only 70chf per year.

Yes you read correctly …. 70chf a year for your entire family

Source In this Rega video: find out what we can do in Switzerland thanks to your support.

Rega also play a big part in the mountains of Switzerland, risking their own lives to rescue injured adventures.  Often the helicopter is unable to land and so the trained medical teams are lowered by harness to stabilize a patient before hoisting them into the helicopter and flying them to a local hospital. Recently Rega has released an Emergency App, where an alarm can be raised and exact coordinates are sent to the control center in Zürich, helping Rega reach the injured quicker and with better accuracy.

Rega isn't the only rescue helicopter in Switzerland. Based in the region in and around Zermatt, Air Zermatt is also a household name when it comes to  mountain rescues. On a summer hike in the Saas Fee region, we were able to witness first hand how Air Zermatt rescued two mountain climbers who had become stuck at around 3500m. After watching this rescue, we have now much more respect for these heroes in the sky, who risk their lives to save ours. 

Simple Family Travel - Air Zermatt Rescue

We as a family have always been Patron’s of Rega. Not only do we have the peace of mind in case we rescuing by Rega one day, but with our small yearly payment - we are supporting a great organization that helps many people each year. Let's hope I never have to call them. 

If you are in Switzerland, becoming a Rega Patron is money well spent, especially with the ski season ahead of us. It is not a rare sight to see helicopters rescuing people off the side of the mountains due to an injury any time of year. However winter sports do have a higher risk associated with them, so becoming a patron at this time of year could be a timely investment.

Are you a patron of Rega? If you are not in Switzerland, does your country have a similar service available?

 

Rega-Gönner werden

 

 

Ask the kids: Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace with Kids - Simple Family Travel

Venturing out of the city center has never been on my agenda when visiting London in the past. There is so much to see and do in the city itself, I never really looked else where. However on our past trip to the U.K., we stayed with friends outside the city - close by to Windsor, and so a whole range of places opened up to us. After a bit of research, Hampton Court Palace ended up at the top my list - and I was extremely excited to visit!

Hampton Court Palace with Kids - Simple Family Travel

Hampton Court Palace, located in Richmond upon Thames, is associated with some of England’s famous monarchs, in particularly Henry VIII. There is so much history within the walls of the palace that it was impossible to take it all in in one visit. It definitely has spurred me on to learn more about English history. 

For our visit to Hampton Court Palace we arrived by car (yes, I rented a car and drove on the “wrong” side of the road!) The drive was an easy enough drive and we were able to find ample parking at the castle (it may of helped we arrived at opening time). The Castle is also easily accessible from the center of London with trains running half hourly from Waterloo Train Station. (Check the Hampton Court Palace website for more details on how to get there).

We visited Hampton Court Palace on the Tuesday before British half term, and it often felt we had the palace almost to ourselves. There were a few group of tourists walking around and 2-3 larger school groups but they didn't disturb us at all. The palace and its grounds are vast and we were able to venture around out our own pace and really enjoyed a peaceful visit.

We pre-paid our tickets online so were able to pick them up easily and walk straight to the entrance. Our friends decided to become a Member of the Historic Royal Palaces - which is an awesome deal if you are going to visit the Palace more than once, or visit other places such as the Tower of London or Kensington Palace. Check out our top money saving tip for visiting London for more info. 

I thought it would be fun to make our reviews a little more kid-centric so here is what our kids, 11, 9 and 2 thought about Hampton Court Palace:

Hampton Court Palace - Ask the kids ...

Hampton Court Palace with Kids - Simple Family Travel
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Asking my 11 year old, her highlight was chatting with a member of staff - she felt like she was on a private tour. He really took the time to chat to us and tried hard to really connect with the kids (we had 6 kids with us ranging from 2 years to 11 years of ages). He explained what the kids would of been wearing if they were going to be presented to the King, or if they had been invited to watch the King eat (a sign of a prosperous kingdom). She found that fascinating. Of course she was in ore of the the replica crown from Henry VIII, with it’s 344 rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamond and pearls. The original was melted down. 

 

Hampton Court Palace with Kids - Simple Family Travel

My 9 year old was a big fan of the Time Travelers App, and he reckons he could of stayed at the Palace all day completing all of the missions. The Historic Royal Palaces have developed this great App to keep kids entertained and informed during their visit to Hampton Court Palace, as well as the Tower of London. Our kids were extremely excited to get going but did find some of the things difficult to find. In the end we turned them off as the kids had their heads down in the App the whole time and were too worried about collecting and loosing the gems - it was just making things too complicated. If we return, we will skip the App and use the Audio Guides that were made available for free.

He also really enjoyed the Maze! The Puzzle Maze has many twists and turns as well as some deadens. It is said to be the oldest hedged Maze in the UK. 

Hampton Court Maze - Simple Family Travel
Hampton Court Maze - Simple Family Travel

Our little 2 year old loved running after the big kids in the Maze and following their laughter. She was also was a big fan of the new Magic Garden Playground - with it’s big dragon and ample space to just run! She also loved practicing her stair climbing up the towers. The playground was also a big hit with the older kids who wanted to stay there all afternoon. Little Z also loved playing in the carriages in the Hampton Court Gardens and her new word of the day was Princess. 

Hampton Court Palace with Kids - Simple Family Travel
Hampton Court Palace with Kids - Simple Family Travel

 

I also can’t forget to mention visiting the Tudor’s Kitchens. These huge rooms housed giant fireplaces where rows of meat were cooked. 

The kids were able to help turn the spit just like they would of done back in the days of Henry VIII. Staff were dressed in Tudor style costumes and informed us that these kitchens were built to feed the 600 members of the court who they fed twice a day. The kitchens cooked something like 2kg of meat per person per day. We enjoyed standing by the fire and warming up a bit, but can imagine cooking all that meat over a fire, especially in the warmer summer months must of been extremely difficult work. 

 

 

          Feeding the Kids

 We had both lunch and afternoon tea at Tiltyard Café, a nice self serve restaurant located in between the Maze and playground. I enjoyed a deciduous vegetable curry, the kids, sausage and chips and fish and chips. When we saw the cake displays we knew we had to come back for afternoon tea. The cakes did not disappoint, and I enjoyed a delicious scone with clotted cream and jam. 

Hampton Court Palace with Kids - Simple Family Travel0

We all had a fantastic time at Hampton Court Palace, there really is something for everyone. It is somewhere where we would love to return, with a bit more English history under our belt to really appreciate and understand the history of this beautiful place. 

Have you been to Hampton Court Palace? What was your highlight? 

Our top money saving tip for visiting London

Top Money Saving tip for visiting Lodon

Before I inundate you with photos from our trip to London earlier this month, I wanted to share with you our number one tip for saving money in London. 

Check online before you visit

This might sound like a bit of a hassle, or even quite obvious for others, but for almost everything we did in London, we were able to save money by booking and paying online ahead of time.

Here are a couple of places where we used this tip: 

Legoland I looked at tickets for Legoland Windsor about 3 weeks out from our visit and they were around 5 pounds cheaper per person. A couple of days before there was no discount. So it pays to buy your tickets in advance. However, as luck would have it, we were able to save around 13 pounds per person as we were a group of 10 people and were able to purchase a group ticket.

Train tickets We stayed near Windsor with friends so to visit the city itself we took the train. Buying the tickets online before saved us a couple of pounds as we were able to figure out which trains were off-peak. We the took our booking code and printed out our tickets at the machine located at the train station.

Since visiting, I have found this information for saving money on train travel in the UK.

 

Hop on hop off bus. You save 17 pounds off a family ticket by buying online with The Original Tour . This helps justify the cost of these buses, which aren't exactly budget friendly. However as we were traveling with six children - it saved our sanity so worth the money in my opinion. There is also options of purchasing entry into London attractions at a discounted rate. 

Check with all three main tour companies to see which suits you and your family best. 

    - The Original Tour Company

    -The Big Bus Tour

    - Golden Tours

Hampton Court Palace Buying online for Hampton Court Palace saved us a couple of pounds.  However while researching the Palace, I stumbled upon a great deal of you plan to visit the palace as well as say the Tower of London and Kensington palace - become a member.

A membership for a family costs £93 which includes entry into Hampton Court Palace, Tower of London, Kensington Palace and a couple of other locations. Just entry into Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London makes membership worthwhile.  

Renting a car We needed a car this trip, as we were staying with friends near Windsor. so booked online a car through Avis. We saved around 15 pounds by pre paying online. We also found a discount code through our local touring club in Switzerland. 

 

We only just scratched the surface of what there is to see and do in and around London, and I am sure there are a lot more online discounts to be found. Do you have anything to add to our list?

Top 5 things to do with the kids in Autumn in Switzerland

top 5 things to do with kids in autumn in switzerland

Whether you call it Autumn, Fall or Herbst, the season between September and November is stunning in Switzerland. One of my favorite things about living in Switzerland is the seasons. And although I do miss the warmer and relaxed days of summer, Autumn brings such a magical vibe. The changing leaf colors from green to vibrant reds, oranges and gold, the chilly crisp mornings and yes of course the fog, enveloping everything around us. Autumn is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy everything that Switzerland has to offer. Here is our top 5 things to do with the kids in Autumn. 

 

1. Get above the fog

Above the fog - Switzerland in Autumn, Simple Family Travel

Autumn days be very foggy here in Switzerland which can make the days feel dark and dreary. But if it is foggy down below, you can almost guarantee there are blue, sunny skies above. The trip up through the fog is magical and I often wonder if we will ever get through it, but once you do, the sight is magical – the skies open up, you can feel the warmth on your face and you can watch the fog and clouds pass by underneath you- it’s like something out of a fairy tale. In German, the sea of fog you often see is called Nebelmeer - and it definitely looks like it stretches on forever. 

Check out SwissWebcams to see if above the fog is clear. Usually you will have to go above 1000m to find the sun, but sometimes even 800m up is enough. Our favorite places to escape the fog are:

  • Sattel Hoch Stuckli - reached by Gondola, a kid‘s paradise of jumping castles and toboggan runs is always fun. We love to walk around the Engelstock first and back and enjoy the tobbogen run. 
  • The Zugerberg – this is our local mountain and is accessible from many directions. Taking the cable car from Zug is the best option, and a great adventure playground is only a short stroll away. 

Do you have a favorite place to escape the fog? Share with us in the comments!

2. Hiking

autumn in switzerland with kids

Hiking is always a good idea, however the cooler weather in Autumn makes it all the more enjoyable. So grab those hiking boots and get outside!  The autumn leaves on the floor of the forest are just waiting to be thrown in the air, the chestnuts are ready to be collected for toasting at home and if you look a little closer, you may find mushrooms - even some the you can eat. But a word of warning, if you are not experienced in mushroom picking, take your collection along to be checked. You can visit this website to find a location close to you.

Family friendly hikes are found all over Switzerland and most mountain areas have at least one that isn't too steep. Our favorite is the hike around Engelstock in Sattel Hoch Stuckli, with beautiful views on a clear day over Schwyz and the Mythen. 

 

3. Visit a pumpkin farm

autumn in switzerland with kids - simple family travel

Autumn means it‘s pumpkin season again! To celebrate this, why not visit a pumpkin farm. Some farms are larger and have amazing displays and activities, such as Jucker Farm, that will be sure to amaze the kids. Others are smaller farms where you can stock up on your carving pumpkins for Halloween or sweet, scrumptious pumpkins for soups or pies.

Here is a list of nearby pumpkin farms to get you started:

We always like to grab a couple of pumpkins to store in our cellar so that we can make pumpkin soup later on when they are no longer in season. Pumpkins when stored correctly can be kept for a couple of months. Check out the Little Eco Footprints for tips on how to pick and store your pumpkins. 

What is your favorite recipe to cook with pumpkin?

Visit a Castle

With the days getting cooler and the weather a little more unpredictable, visiting a Castle is definitely a great idea to keep warm. Switzerland has many castles scattered throughout the country.  Did you know that Swiss Castle Day just happens to fall in autumn (this year it was 2nd October 2016)? A lot of the Castles have many special activities organized during this time of year.  Here is a good list to inspire you. 

Our favorite castle would have to be Schloss Lenzburg, perched high above the town of Lenzburg in Kanton Aargau. The castle offers a great look into how everyday life was back in the middle ages and kids love the range of activities on offer. My kids especially loved the kids room, with dress ups and a play corner as well as arts and crafts - they could easily spend the whole day here. It’s also a great place to visit on a rainy day.  The setting around the castle is especially special in Autumn, with many beautiful trees creating a stunning backdrop. Check their website for special events throughout the year.

 

5. Chestnuts

Simple Family Travel - Chestnuts in the Autumn

Chestnuts are definitely a big part of the Swiss Autumn season. As soon as the cooler weather appears, roasted chestnut stands pop up around the towns and cities of Switzerland. For around 7chf, you can pick up a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts and warm even the coldest hands. Chestnuts also make great desserts like vemicelles - a pureed chestnut mousse often served with meringues and cream. Chestnuts also feature heavily in the autumn dishes accompanying game meat. My favorite is the vegetarian dish - “Wild ohne wild” (so the meat without the meat!) which includes all the yummy side dishes such as spatzli, red cabbage, brussel sprouts, poached pear and of course chestnuts! 

 

I hope this post has given you some inspiration so you can head out and experience what Autumn has to offer in Switzerland. What are your favorite things to do during the golden season? 

 

The Ship of Tolerance on the shores of Lake Zug

The Ship of Tolerance in Zug

What does Miami, Cuba, Venice, Brooklyn have in common with the swiss lakeside town of Zug? They have all hosted the Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Foundation’s, The Ship of Tolerance, an art installation aimed at connecting with children of different cultures and educating them and the community on tolerance and respect. The sail is made up of 106 pictures that have been made by various school and local groups from diverse backgrounds.

The region of Zug home to over 140 nationalities. is an ideal location to celebrate the message of tolerance and respect.  The town has embraced the project and along with the ship which can be found on the lakeside promenade, you will find around 800 additional artworks decorating the town. The Kunsthaus Zug has a summary of the program that accompanies the ship. 

The Details: The Ship of Tolerance can be viewed on the lake promenade in Zug till 13th October 2016.  The boat looks stunning at sunset and is illuminated in the evening. 

It will also be on display at the Zug Trade Fair from 22nd -30th October 2016 where people can see the ship up close and personal. 

Feeding the kids: Bring a picnic and enjoy the view of the boat and Lake Zug. There are many restaurants nearby or a self serve Coop Restaurant is only a few blocks away. 

What to watch out for: During bad weather the sail may be lowered.  The closest parking is the Parkhaus Seehof (but i find the parking quite narrow) so try City Park or at Bundesplatz. The Train Station Postplatzt is only a short stroll away as is the bus stop. 

 

Ship of Tolerance Zug

To read more detailed information about the project you can visit the Ship of Tolerance website and the local host - Kunsthaus Zug

 

Jucker Farm - Pumpkin Farm in Switzerland

pumpkin farm in switzerland

Everything began with the pumpkin ….

In the sleepy village of Seegräben, nestled in the hills of Zurich Oberland, you will find Jucker Farm. In 1997, brothers Jucker decided to create a pumpkin sculpture display on their farm, which became so popular that 19 years later Jucker farm has grown into a very successful agrotourism company. Not only do they still prepare a pumpkin sculpture display every Autumn (1. September till beginning of November), they have expanded to include a restaurant, seminar rooms and also continue to run their farms, producing a vast array of produce which you can purchase on site. 

The theme for this years pumpkin sculptures is the Romans. You will find Julius Cesar among other figures spotted around the farm, entry is free. However if you would like to experience the Apple orchard Maze (made from 1000s of apple trees) as well as a barefoot path, this will cost 5chf per person. You can relax in the hammocks or let the kids meet the goats or jump around on the hay bails. There is a self serve restaurant, as well as the farm shop to stock up on, well of course pumpkins, but also   other produce from the farm and nearby farms.

 

The details: Come and admire the pumpkin sculptures as well as the many different sorts of pumpkins. Pick up your pumpkins for soups or even to carve. There is a carving table available as well if you want to avoid the mess at home. Don’t forget to sit back in the autumn sun and enjoy the views of Pfäffikersee

Pumpkin farm Switzerland - Jucker Farm

Stock up on pumpkins! Pumpkins have a long shelf life, especially if stored in a dry place at around 10-20 degrees C. We purchased some Butternut, Kabocha, Ringer and Orange Knirps pumpkinsthat we will store in our cellar and use over the next months. Seegräben too far away? Then you can purchase Jucker Farm Products through the website farmy.ch

Jucker Farm

Feeding the kids: Enjoy a coffee and cake or perhaps even a meal at the self service restaurant (reserve a table to avoid disappointment). They serve a great breakfast buffet, we tried the pancakes, rösti with bacon and eggs - and we loved that we could pay per 100g and only buy what we needed.  No picnic is allowed. When we were ready to leave we picked up a few things at the farm shop and enjoyed a picnic by the lake on our drive home. The bread was delicious. 

What to watch out for:  Jucker Farm can get very busy, so arriving early (we arrived at 9am) will ensure you can enjoy the farm. There is no parking at the farm itself, however there is a small amount of parking in the village of Seegräben, a short walk away from the farm. If the parking is already full (which it often is) the next parking is at Aaartal Train Station. the farm is then a 25 min stroll away or wait for the shuttle bus. 

 

 

 

Simple Family Travel: Switzerland in 1 Hour

Simple Family Travel: Switzerland in an hour

Only in Switzerland for a short period of time? Want to give the kids something to enjoy while learning something too. Then stop by the Swiss Miniatur in Melida in Ticino, in the Italian part of Switzerland. 

Nestled between Mountains and Lake Lugano, the open-air museum Swiss Miniatur, has been a part of the swiss tourism landscape for the past 57 years. Pierre Vuigner, a Swiss a municipal clerk and grocery store owner had an idea that he just couldn’t shake, creating a park of miniature versions of famous swiss landmarks. He found the perfect location in Melide on the lake of Lugano and got to work creating.  Since 1959 Swiss Miniatur has been showing Tourists around Switzerland within the space of one hour. Today visitors can view more than 120 models (scaled at 1:25) over a 14 000m2 beautifully manicured park.

Traveling with such different aged children is not always an easy task, so lucky the Swiss Miniatur appeals to all ages. Our older two love seeing places they have already visited in the past, and plan where they would like us to explore next in Switzerland. They also enjoy guessing where each landmark could be from and learn the flags of the different Swiss Cantons along the way (there are 26). Our youngest loves running after the model trains, spotting the different animals and people along the way. Entry also includes a ride on a train for the kids, which is a highlight for the young ones.

exploring swiss miniatur

The details: A short drive from the center of Lugano, the town of Melide is easily reached by car, train or even boat in the warmer months. There is plenty of parking (for a small fee), or is only a short walk from Melide train station and boat station. Make sure you check the SBB Railaway promotions before you visit to see if they have any special offers. When we visited, we took the train from Lugano there and on our return we took the boat. It was a lovely to be on the water and enjoy the beautiful views. The boats run during the warmer months and you can get packages including entry or just buy a one way ticket on board. Check out their website for the timetable and more information including pricing. 

Feeding the kids:  A small restaurant is on site offering meals and snacks, however we found a Coop Supermarket a short walk away to stock up on yummy local produce to have a picnic in the playground across the road. Another idea would be to visit a local restaurant or enjoy a picnic on the banks of Lake Lugano. 

What to watch out for: There are your typical coin operated rides here, but they are off to one side and we managed to avoid them. A small souvenir shop also exists, but I love how you don't have to exit through the shop! Makes this minimalist mum super happy not to have to deal with nagging from the kids. Opening hours vary in the off season so check online before you visit . They do their maintenance during this period, and it seems offer a 50% discount on entry. 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Simple Family Travel

 

“And suddenly you know, it is time to start something new

and trust the magic of beginnings.”

– Meister Eckhart

 

Welcome to Simple Family Travel - helping you make travel with kids more simple and enjoyable.

Hi, I’m Kristin! Originally from Brisbane, Australia, I moved to Switzerland to be an Au Pair 15 years ago. Being an Au Pair enabled me to earn money and explore Europe, visiting London, Paris, Rome and many smaller places in between. 12 months into my time as an Au Pair, I fell in love with a Swiss guy. We eventually married, and now 13 years on we have three kids, ages 11, almost 9 and 2. We call central Switzerland home where we are surrounded by mountains, lakes and forests - a total contrast to the beach lifestyle I grew up around back in Australia. 

Together as a family we have been traveling since our oldest daughter was 3 weeks old. Her very first adventure was by train on the Glacier Express from Chur to Zermatt. Since then we have traveled within Europe, the United States, Singapore as well as often traveling back to Australia to explore the east coast . We love exploring the world around us and exposing our kids to different cultures and ways of thinking. Being bilingual in German and English, we also love learning new words of different languages. 

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Five years ago, you would have found us with suitcases piled high when traveling and on the way home those suitcases were loaded full of souvenirs. However a trip to Sri Lanka had a remarkable affect on me, and from that trip I discovered the world of simple living and minimalism. Seeing children with very little enjoying life, laughing with their friends, playing only with a cricket bat and tennis ball changed my outlook on life - how little we really need to make us happy. 

We now to try and live life as well as travel with only what we really need. Adapting to a more simple way of living has enabled us to explore more. We spend less time maintaining our things and more time on experiences. We have found more fulfillment in creating memories in the beautiful surroundings and cultures we find ourselves in rather than focusing on possessions. 

And with that, Simple Family Travel was born. 

Simple Family Travel was born out of our love to travel with our kids combined with our love of photography.  Traveling with kids doesn't need to be complicated. We will show you that traveling with kids can be enjoyable for everyone. With a little bit of preparation (I love a good list!) and the tips, tricks and advice that we share here at Simple Family Travel - we will inspire you to get out with your kids and explore Switzerland, Europe and the world.