Friday, October 30, 2009

The challenge to climb a GLACIER!

Last August I climbed the highest mountain (3'402.2 meter above sea level) in Ticino, the only speaking-italian region in southern Switzerland. The mountain posses two names: Adula in Italian and Rheinwaldhorn in German. The mountain Adula stands on the border with the Grison canton (the eastern German-speaking region of the country) and it is surrounded from three different glaciers one of which is called Adula like the mountain. The Adula glacier has shrank the most in the last 50 years compared to other glaciers in the region, retrieving about 900 meters in the last 60 years which correspond to 1/3 of its initial length. It is an amazing excursion that you should try to plan during the months of Summer (June, July, August) where the temperature on the top of the mountain is still comfortable. The walking track starts from either Olivone or Dangio (in Bellinzona region) and it takes maximum 3 hours to reach the first hut, CAS (Club Alpino Svizzero - The Swiss Alpine Club, which website offers a list of all the huts in Switzerland).The first part of the walk it is easy and very relaxing. It starts to be arduous and tiring from the CAS hut to the UTOE one climbing for about 2 hours on a steep rocky mountain with an altitude difference of 381 m. From the UTOE hut you can enjoy an amazing view over the Swiss alps and relish the comforting sounds of the nature. The hut offers the essential facilities such as a large dormitory, showers and kitchen to spend one or more nights (about 25.-- Swiss francs per night with breakfast included). From spring until autumn there is always a guardian who looks after the accommodation and usually a menu of basic dishes is provided as well. Once you have reached the spot and decided to overnight, you can't miss to climb the Adula glacier the next day! You need to get up quite early, about 6 am, to be able to walk on the glacier before noon when the glacier start melting. Bring with you the necessary equipments, which you could also rent in the hut, such as cramps, pickax and rope (we were fine also without rope)... and even if it is August remember to take gloves, a scarf and a warm hat since it is quite windy and chilly on the summit. The whole way up is a gorgeous varied landscape from minimal greenery, to rocky until you will be surrounded from a flat, white surface. It was quite scary to walk up the glacier; a steep, slippery expanse which could hide a few cracks and therefore you have to watch out not! Walking on the ice with the cramps is an amazing adventure... all around you is flat and white with the majestic alps dominating far away the wide, enormous area. It is a feast for the eyes! To climb up to the peak took about four hours and only two to walk back... it was absolutely exhausting but incredibly satisfying!

My 5 Easy Eco Travel Tips!

It doesn't take much to become a simple and conscious Ecotraveller. You will find here below 5 easy tips to follow for your next trip and if you have any questions or any other suggestions please express your self by adding a comment.

1. Where and with whom am I going traveling and where will my money "land"? Before planning a trip to a foreign country inform your self about the place, the culture, if there are any problems caused by tourism and how is its impact at the destination. When booking through an intermediary ask if services are offered from sustainable tourism corporation which practice ethical and ecological principles.

2. Once you are in the travel destination; where and from whom do I purchase? If you want to buy a little souvenir, have a good look around and remember to buy from local businesses which can gain a greater benefit rather than retailer company chain.

3. Where and what should I eat? When looking for a place to eat search for the most traditional but still authentically looking restaurants which are run from local people who offer real local specialties in their own custom for a reasonable price and in this way you will enjoy and experience a unique travel momentum.

4. Observe the culture and pay attention not to break any cultural rules. Have respect of local believes and customs by informing your self through a travel guide or by watching attentively the natives. Be flexible and try to adapt to the local habits and behavior.

5. Last but not least: respect the environment! To combat the problem of the pollution caused from the increased air travel improve the efficiency of modern air transport but, if possible, find other transport alternatives. Through specialist company you can offset your carbon consumption on


Click HERE for a general Ecological Living Guide!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Have you ever tried the Pumperbike?

The Pumperbike is a environmental friendly water tool that came out in the market a few years ago but not quite divulged yet. It is also called "Human-Powered-Hydrofoil". By jumping up and down on the device, as you can see in the movie, it generates the energy on the hydrofoil to push you forward.

To start the Pumpabike working, you need to launch from a stable place giving it a good kick off in order to provide the initial speed. Then, you have to start jumping like a freaky kangaroo by using a coordinated rhythm which is quite a big challenge to do. Generally the kangaroos collapse after a few minutes because it is just too exhausting :o)!! You need to be quite fit and with good efficient techniques to keep it going longer than five minutes. But it can also be efficient if you can take the wave of a passing boat because it would make you go for longer time. Remember that if you stop jumping you will glide for a short while before sinking and so you will have to swim back to land to start again. The main body of the device floats so it is easy to paddle around. It is more suited to use it on calm water and with little wind. The Pumpabike is a great water tool for having fun with friends and of course for keeping you fit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Along the SILK ROAD, the homeland of the UIGHURS

The Uighurs are a Turkic minority group with Muslim origins resident in East Turkestan (Central Asia). The majority of the population lives in northwestern China in the Xinjiang province which is surrounded by the main regions Mongolia, Tibet, Kazakstan, India and Pakistan. Urumqi which means "Beautiful Pasture", is the capital of Xinjiang and an ancient stopover on the Silk Route.
Uighurs have been fighting their independence and for their rights to speak their language, practice their religion and get paid for decent jobs. The country possesses large resources of oil and gas which are profitable for the Chinese government that also uses this area for testing nuclear weapons.

Rebiya Kadeer is the most prominent Uighur businesswoman, political activist and mother of 11 children. After six years of imprisonment for criticizing the Chinese authority and then being exiled to the US she is now president of the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur American Association defending the rights of her compatriots.

If you are interested to know more about the topic a book about Kadeer and the Uighurs' history has been published: "One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China". Or you can view the following websites:

Monday, October 19, 2009

CAPRI: an enchanting island!

Capri is one of the most beautiful island in Italy located off the shores of Campania, in the southern part of the country with its main city Naples. It is a very famed summer holiday destination but it is recommendable to visit the island during the middle seasons (Spring and Autumn) to avoid the tourist crowd. The island can be visited in one day cruising around with the local buses or by hiring a scooter but it would not be enough if you would like to discover and explore the hidden marvels of the rocky island. Do remember that Capri city deserves a couple of hours of a walking tour through its alleyways. From Capri harbor, called Marina Grande, you can take the cable car or a local bus which both run frequently to reach Capri city. The beauty of the extraordinary nature together with the elegant compacted architecture, Capri city offers an enchanting and heaven-like atmosphere. Everything around you is just beautiful and perfectly presented... When I was there I felt like being in a small Paradise in the middle of the ocean! One day wasn't enough for me, so I decided to stay for the night. By walking through the village in via Castello I found Hotel "La Prora", run from three sisters offering cozy and classy rooms for an affordable price (with breakfast included) located in a quite central old area of the village overlooking the harbor... the right place to stay for a full experience in Capri! If you walk until the end of via Castello you will have one of the many gorgeous views over the island (see the top picture in the right hand side). To get more of the island by sitting at a table and enjoying some local fresh fish, walk to the Natural Arch, Arco Naturale and on the way you will find a secret restaurant isolated in the middle of nowhere where you can finally realize how nice it is to be in another world! Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the restaurant but just give a look at the picture and you will understand what I mean...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The secret spots next to Côte d’Azur

Côte d’Azur in south of France is a well-known summer destination for sunbathing and good party. But if you want to spend some peaceful time in the inland, in the north there are recommendable spots to view on the mountains or by freshwater sources. By hiring a car you can reach the following locations within 1 hour of drive and easily explore them.

Gorge de Loup
(the wolf's throught) is a deep, wild canyon where the river Loup flows through. All along the river a rich, savage planting greenery dominates the edges of the gorge allowing the restive rustling to echo its rashing to the ocean. It is a challenging adventure to follow the route of the river by jumping from one rock to the other and accidentally splash into the freezing, but brain-refreshing water.

Chateau de Gurdon (the Gourdon's castle) is located on the summit of a mountain from where it offers an amazing overview over the whole coast and the inland hills with their villages. It is a quite, relaxing place for a romantic dinner or a meditation section. For who practices paragliding this is a prefect area for flying with easy take-off zones.

Lac St.Cassan is a lake placed within a natural protected area surrounded by various type of green trees grounded in a soft earthy sand. The calm of the still freshwater, the softly breeze and the fascinating buzzing sound of cicadas create the most soothing ambiance that you could ever wish for your best relaxing holiday feeling.

When the SUN shines in Edinburgh...

With a lovely sunny day in Edinburgh there are relaxing activities you can do while enjoying the warmth of the sun. It is a rarity to have gorgeous weather in Scotland but lately it has been quite surprising... the sun keeps showing up and the clouds stay rather hidden! WOW!
If you want to be lazy it is nice just to chill out in the popular Princess Street Gardens enjoying a good cup of coffee or a chai latte. But if you feel like walking and moving gently your buttocks the "Botanics" or the Royal Botanic Garden in Stockbridge (in 20 Inverleith Row) is an idyllic spot of natural beauty with a great biodiversity offering 17 thousand different species of plants from all over the globe. Alternatively to relaxing activities you can otherwise climb the Arthur's seat and after sweating yourself off and have reached the summit you can happily admire the amazing view over the city and the ocean. Enjoy your sunny day with a smile!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where can I SWING?

I have just swung a few months ago in my hometown, Lugano (on the way to Castagnola there is a corner of rocks on the right hand side just after the "ponte del diavolo"- the bridge of the devil). It was really EXCITING! Once I was in the water I just wanted to do it again!! Check out the video and you definitely must try it!... and please forgive the language.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's talk about FOOD!

Have you ever tried the real Chinese food?? Not the food that you get in the European Chinese restaurants! But the real one that you find on the main streets of the Chinese villages in the province or in the backstreets of the main cities like Shanghai, Beijing or Hangzhou? Uh my Goodness... that's the real deal guys!!! If you will ever have the chance to travel through China remember to try the steamed soft rolls filled with either meat (you wouldn't bother what kind :o)!), mushrooms with leek or smashed red beans. They are called bun (or bao in Chinese) and are great for breakfast with a nice warm cup of soya milk :oP !

As an alternative to these little snacks there are also the well-known dumplings (in Mandarin dim sum which means "a little bit from the heart") which can be prepared in different cooking styles like fried, boiled or steamed.
The best one are the Shanghai steamed soup ones, xiao long bao!! Check out how they are made: