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France: On The Road

Paris, the city of love and a thousand other clichés, still holds a certain mystic. But no matter how many written words this great city has commanded - however familiar this town may appear - Paris will always remain an enigma, a magnet for millions of visitors from around the world.

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Full Name French Republic
Capital City Paris

547,030 sq km
211,208 sq miles

Population 60,400,000
Time Zone GMT/UTC +1(Central European Time)
Daylight Saving Start last Sunday in March
Daylight Saving End last Sunday in October
Languages French (official)
Religion 86% Roman Catholic, 8% Muslim, 2% Protestant 1% Jewish, 3% unaffiliated
Currency Euro (Euro)
Electricity 230V 50HzHz
Country Dialing Code 33


Lugano A Piece of Italian Heaven in Switzerland

Switzerland is a multi-language country. While we were there, we found French to be the main language in Geneva and Neuchatel. Later, we encountered German as the most used language; however, in the south, some very warm-blooded Italians surprised us by talking in Italian inside the pleasant coolness of the Swiss canton Ticino situated at the Italian border.We first witnessed Lugano in Ticino from Monte Lema, a southern Alp with a modern cable lift. You didn't think I would hike up there, did you?.Sitting inside a cable lift is almost like flying, although I am not into flying unless inside an airplane.

I am not into paragliding either. Yet, we enjoyed the sight of numerous paragliders in most places over the Alps especially around Ticino.Monte Lema has the most splendid view of Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore, and southern Ticino.

The terraced restaurant on Monte Lema, which was like a self-service take-out, offered us a variety of simple lunches. The terrace had a wood planked deck-like floor and long picnic tables with benches where we perched to eat our lunch, watching the magnificence of the view with mountains, lakes, and in the distance, cities glowing in glorious colors.While admiring Lake Lugano from the top of Monte Lema, we met a couple from New Jersey who told us that they went on a magnificent day cruise on the lake.

Anyway, if there is water with a sightseeing cruise on it, be it a lake, river, or an arm of the ocean, something forces me to it. My husband has lasting memories of a few hilarious and difficult boat and water related adventures I pushed him into, but our boat trip on Lake Lugano was pleasant and calm.Cruises sailed off almost every hour or several times during the day. At about lunchtime one day, we boarded a white and turquoise boat with "Navigazione Lugano" written on the side of it.On the boat, we went up to the top deck, and as we sailed, the cool lake breeze, the beautiful dark blue lake surrounded by lush, green covered Alps that looked like moss hills, and the lakeside towns and villages boasting of colorful flowery patches made us forget about the lunch served on board.

Such extravagant richness of nature and beauty of the sights humbles a person and makes him think how lucky he is to be there to witness it all.Alps around Lugano, though quite high, seem more rounded at the peaks than those in mid to northern Europe, as were the people who seemed to be smoother, friendlier, and more open in their ways, for Lugano offered us the warmest human contact. "Benvenuti, benvenuti!" Everywhere we went, we were welcomed with open arms.In Europe, one thing different from the US is that Europeans do not drink tap water, except maybe in a couple of places in France. If one asks for water, one has to be ready to pay for it.

Also, each locality has a special way and means of imbibing its favorite drinks. In Lugano, they drink wine from small bowls called boccalinos and their after dinner drink is a walnut liqeur Ratafia.The food, too, tasted excellent, but that may be because I am partial to Italian cooking. In the northern Swiss cities, the food is delicious in a local sense, but extremely pricey, especially if one ate all his meals in a restaurant.English is rarely spoken in Lugano, and if spoken, it is very difficult to understand. Something similar happens with my Italian.

I can somewhat understand Italian if I force myself, but if I try to talk it, what comes out of my mouth is a distorted Spanish. Despite the language barrier, I met the nicest, warmest people in Lugano and if I dare study Italian again, it will be because of the people of Lugano and my wish to visit this fantastic town and to hear, one more time, a sweet-voiced tenor's singing just for me.Lugano is a great city for walking tours, for there are many things to see and experience. Besides the Via Nassa and the Swiss Banks, there are the lakeside promenade, narrow streets of the old town, St.

Mary's Church, parks, flowers, the sweet smells of oleander, lemon, and magnolia, museums, outdoor cafes, lake breezes, and the strong cappucino that is served at almost any place, and of course, that divine food: polenta, ossobucco, pastas galore and my favorite crusty bread and formaggini, which is goat cheese topped with olive oil and coarse pepper. I can safely say that the best food I ever ate was the Italian food in Lugano.Shopping in Lugano is an adventure. Unless you've hit the lotto, it is better to stay away from shopping on the cobbled Via Nassa. Rolex, Gucci, Versace, and many other too hot to touch stores are on this pedestrian-only street where it is great to walk up and down if only to dream Cinderella dreams.Several years have passed since I've been to Lugano but the memory stands shadowless, still delicately injecting its splendor into my life, making me hope--in my next vacation--to visit Lugano again.

.Joy Cagil is an author on a site for Creative Writing (http://www.Writing.Com/) Her education is in foreign languages and linguistics. In her background are varied subjects such as psychology, mental health, and visual arts, and she loves to travel.

Her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/joycag.

By: Joy Cagil

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