13. Vacation memories: hiking in the Alps – part 1

We took our kids from Toronto, Canada to Switzerland on vacation. This is our adventure.

This is a multi-part series. Scroll down to the end of this post for a list of the previous stories in chronological order.


I don’t talk much about my partner as he is not interested in social media or being part of it etc., but he knows I document our trip and is ok with some peripheral mentionings.

For this chapter of the story, he plays a part. Because… he loves to hike. Always has. If there’s a trail through any kind of nature, but especially a forest, he’s in his element. But he will hike anywhere: in the desert, in the Canadian bush, through rolling hills or steep mountains…doesn’t matter where.

Strenuous activity, namely walking long distances with a pack on his back, does not bother him. I suspect with advancing age though, and not as much physical activity in life as he would like, he has slowed down a bit.

Here’s a bit of a preamble:

Before the kids came, he used to drag me on strenuous hikes, always promising that it ‘won’t be long now‘ or ‘we’re almost there‘. If 45 minutes later, after already hiking for hours, there was still no destination in sight, I’d start fantasizing about throwing rocks at his head. (He knows this. Lol)



Hiking in the Swiss mountains again after all these years was a dream come true, so we indulged him when he suggested we repeat the excursion from 15+ years ago, when his sister and BIL joined us in Switzerland.

Here’s the thing: he’s a pilot. He likes all things navigating and planning and calculating. Plus, with today’s technology and all the apps, he’s in seventh heaven.

Enter: me.

I do not mind hikes but not for 6 hours and, preferably, part of that trip should be on level ground or mostly downhill. πŸ™„

I learned the hard way to demand clarification whether a 3 hour hike meant 3 hours TO the destination (and thereby another 3 hours back) or a full there-and-back trip within 3 hours. 😜


Pre-kids hiking experiences I’ve had that reinforces this point:

  • Sedona (Arizona – I got heatstroke)
  • Saba (Caribbean Island – OMG all uphill, he’s nuts)
  • Barbados (lovely, mostly on level ground, not a bad hike)
  • St. Martin/St. Maarten (some uphill, not strenuous but hot and I quit halfway up the tropical forest)
  • Las Vegas surrounding area (dry desert heat, more heat stroke but a lot of that was driving and exploring ghost towns)
  • local areas on the Bruce Trail near our home in the Canadian bush full of mosquitos and black flies…etc 😐 (lovely scenery, impossible to enjoy due to the bug infestation but it doesn’t bother some people…)

So this time however, we had the kids with us and the plan was to do at least some hiking on the mountain trails.

If you read here often you know that I have two kids:

One of them is a teenager whose favorite position is horizontal. 😴

The other has Osgoode Schlatter knees and is always hungry when there is no food, but rarely eats food that is prepared at mealtimes. 😢

Both have been…well, lets just say there’s been some bickering and complaining. But if there’s gelato around, which there is a lot of around here, it helps to placate them. πŸ˜›πŸ¦πŸ§πŸ¨


On Monday morning we dragged the kids out of bed early. That should have been our first clue how our day would progress.

“We can’t wait too long, it’s too hot to hike after lunch,” we told them.

The heatwave has not let up since our arrival and we were planning our excursions around that.

We left by 8ish.

First challenge that we encountered was the local transit bus. My partner took the bus the previous day with the girl child to buy some food. He knew how it worked and figured out pricing. (Children under 16 are half the adult price).

He also knew we needed a bus to take us to Bellinzona and from there we had to transfer to another bus to take us to the town with the cable car.

The town with the cable car had a similar name as another town which was located two stops from our place of residence, which is where the confusion began.

The family wanted me to speak to the bus driver. I said in Italian (which is passable enough):

“Dovremmo andare a Monte Carasso.”

The bus driver said:


I nodded. (Maybe the locals drop the ‘Monte’ part?)

She looked at the kids and I told her the ages. Both kids look young enough to pass for under 16.

She typed in a price and my partner was about to hand her the money which he calculated out earlier to exact change when we realized she told us a price about 5 SFr.- more.

This is the bus driver’s charging station. They are able to give change, print tickets, etc. All very fancy and modern.

We gave her a 20 and sat down.

“Do we need to go to Bellinzona?” I asked her after a while, because my partner’s body language told me something was off..

“No,” was her answer.

My partner gave me a questioning look.

At the Carasso stop we got out and immediately began to bicker.

“She overcharged us, the tickets are for 4 adults,” he said.

Oh. He had the tickets and showed me.

“Why didn’t you tell me in the bus?” I wanted to know.

But you know how it is – we’re in a foreign country, only one of us speaks the language but not exactly fluently, and we didn’t know for sure if the Carasso we went to was the same as Monte Carasso…

The driver dropped us in the middle of Carasso and there was no cable car in sight.

The boys pulled up their phones and GPS and all the apps and said it’s a 19 minute walk to the cable car town from there.

The girl child said: “I do that to get to school every day.”

They family is beginning to realize just how close everything is in this tiny country. πŸ™‚ There is always another town not far from the one you’re in. For Canadians, but also Americans, this is a very foreign concept. Distances are vast and much of it is not really walk-able. You need a car to travel around North America. πŸ™‚

So, we walked along roads and highways, some of which did not have sidewalks. It was fine. The most noteworthy thing we noticed was the fact that the roads the cars use are much narrower here than back home, and also how every parcel of land either contained vineyards, flower or a vegetable gardens.

Seems everyone in Ticino either grows their own grapes, or if they don’t their neighbour does.

Glass bottles are recycled by type and colour, in appropriate cases stacked neat and orderly for pickup.
The GPS on their phone led us up this little alley way…
I hope they know where they’re going. πŸ™‚


To be continued…


  1. Vacation memories: travel day – part 1
  2. Vacation memories: travel day – part 2
  3. Vacation memories: from flight attendant to passenger 20 years later
  4. Vacation memories: arrival in Zurich
  5. Vacation memories: exhaustion and a trip down memory lane – part 1
  6. Vacation memories: exhaustion and a trip down memory lane part 2
  7. Vacation memories: exhaustion and a trip down memory lane part 3

7.1Vacation side note: what is wrong with me?
8. Vacation memories: Swiss train adventures
8.1 Vacation memories: after arrival in the village
9. Vacation side note: writing surrounded by beauty
10. Vacation memories: Bellinzona – part 1
11. Vacation memories: Bellinzona – part 2
12. Vacation memories: river

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