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Early Christmas in Locarno

Karin Christen Avatar
Part of the required team, photographed just above Locarno, in Switzerland.

This year, we already met at the beginning of December for Christmas dinner. We decided to get together in the Italian part of Switzerland in Locarno, where we spent a good time in our newly formed team.

For us, planning a Christmas dinner with a remote team means spending several days together each time, as we rarely see each other and depending on where we meet, the journey takes a little longer for one and the other. For various reasons, we decided to spend 4 days in Ticino, Switzerland. Being a decentralized team also means that not all people from the team can always be there. This time we managed to celebrate with 6 out of 8 team members.

Arrival and presents

On Thursday, the required team, except for Paschi and Simon, individually traveled by train to Locarno. The arrival time of the team members could not have been more different; Tuğçe Nur came from Zurich, Velthy from Lucerne and Karin from Graubünden. Dominik and Jeff traveled from Cologne and Nuremberg by train. Fortunately, the German railroads cooperated to some extent, at least on the way there, and everyone arrived on time for the apéritif at Corina’s because Corina lives in Locarno.

To enjoy the supposed last rays of sunshine, those who arrived earlier walked along the lake and river to Corina’s home.

The evening was mostly about gifts! This year we did Secret Santa. To determine the Secret Santa’s, we used the Secret Santa Slack app. In doing so, we noted in a Google Form what each person’s interests were, and Slack put together the Secret Santa’s. Everyone was given a budget of 20CHF/Euro to then exchange gifts on the spot or send them by mail. In addition, the whole team got clothes from Patagonia as a Christmas gift from the company, and so it was a very premature, wonderful Christmas.

Good coffee and trip to Orselina

The sunshine on Thursday afternoon was unfortunately also quickly disappeared behind the mountains, and the weather forecast did not look rosy for the next two days. On Friday at least the rain held off a bit and so the plan for the day was to get to know Locarno. As is our custom, we get to know places through good local cafés. The coffee roastery Muyu was our first destination.

Via the Walk of Fame through the Ticino Palm Avenue we walked to the café.

After fortifying ourselves, we went up to the Sanctuary Madonna del Sasso to enjoy the view. From there we walked to Osteria Chiara where we had lunch. In Italian-speaking Switzerland, a cozy, family-run restaurant where you can get local cuisine is called an Osteria. Later in the afternoon we enjoyed mulled wine in the Christmas village and Karin, Jeff and Tuğçe Nur took a spin on the ice.

Eat, drink and spend time together

On Friday evening, the “official” Christmas dinner was on the agenda. Although we ate deliciously the whole time and could not complain at all culinary, the dinner on Friday was the highlight so far. We were almost the only guests in the restaurant, which was probably because at the same time Switzerland played against Serbia in the World Cup.

We enjoyed the full attention of the waiter, which made the evening even more pleasant. After dinner, there was a leisurely walk back to the center and the hotel, while we heard the cars honking from afar.

A rainy day with games

On Saturday afternoon, a pottery course would have been on the agenda. Unfortunately, this could not take place due to an illness of the course instructor. At the brunch at 10:00 a.m. we wanted to define the new plan for the day, together. Regrettably, there was a misunderstanding with the restaurant, which did not expect us until 12:00. Well then, a walk by the lake, with good conversation, naturally served as a good opportunity to make some plans. We knew that the weather will not allow too much and agreed to approach the day a little more spontaneously.

This spontaneous element then immediately benefited us at brunch, as the restaurant offered us a bottle of champagne for the trouble with the late reservation. Perhaps a bit unexpected to drink champagne at noon on the almost empty stomach, but tasty all the same.

We took enough time to enjoy the many delicacies at our leisure, in an ambience that was as exciting as it was unusual. Namely, the restaurant used to be a bank and the safe-deposit boxes hung from the ceiling as decorative elements.

Now we were faced with the question of what to do with the time until dinner, since our ceramics class had been canceled. Fortunately, we had a few games with us. So, there was a round of “Frantic” in the hotel lobby for some, and naps for the others. Just in time for the opening of the stalls, we went to the Christmas market, whereby coincidence the game Netherlands vs. USA.

In the evening: Ramen!

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