Swimming in Thermal Baths: Heavenly or Hot Mess?

Going to a thermal bath/pool was at the top of my list of ‘Switzerland Goals’ this year, and it overlapped quite nicely with our girls’ constant drive to find a pool. Finally, in Locarno near the Swiss border with Italy, I found my opportunity. Even though it was February, the pool was warm (a terrific 95 degrees F), and you could swim to both indoor and outdoor sections of the same pool. The outdoor part had an *amazing* view of Lake Maggiore and the nearby mountains of both Switzerland and Italy. It was the perfect thing to do on a February afternoon that was a bit too cold to spend outside. What I didn’t realize is that what I thought of as the perfect confluence of relaxation and fun, turns out to be my husband’s own personal hell. In retrospect, I can see where our paths diverged.

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A Weekend in Bellinzona, Switzerland (with kids)

“What is that yellow circle emoji in my weather app next Friday?”  Barry wondered out loud as he scanned the ten day forecast for potential places to do a weekend trip.  “The sun.” Jana replied.  That’s right, a sunny day was being forecast for a weekend in February in Bellinzona, Switzerland.  Within an hour, plans were finalized for a quick trip down into the Italian-speaking, and slightly warmer, region of Switzerland. Unfortunately, the next day that forecasted yellow circle emoji was replaced with a cloud.  We went anyway–there are palm trees there, how cold could it be?

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Castlegrande overlooks one side of Bellinzona’s old town

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Basel’s Winter Carnival (Fasnacht)

Beginning the first Monday after Ash Wednesday each winter, the normally reserved Basel-folk don masks, grab their piccolos and let their freak flags fly for exactly 72 hours straight. Okay, by “freak flags” I mean lots of marching, confetti and satire – this is Switzerland, after all. Basel’s Fasnacht is said to be the largest carnival in Switzerland and dates back to, at least, the 14th century (many city archives were destroyed in the earthquake of 1356, so it is hard to say exactly when it began here). Continue reading