Before I had kids, I would get in a mood and hop on a train or get in the car and leave. I’d show up in a town or city, thumb through my guide book and pick a place to stay. Often I would have to check out a few places to find a clean place. Sadly, this plan doesn’t work so well with small children with short legs and shorter patience.
So if you should happen to pull into Ticino with two kids and no hotel reservation on a three day weekend, the helpful people at the Lugano visitor’s bureau might send you to this lovely hotel in nearby Melide. Although Hotel al Boccalino is a bit of a walk from the Melide train station, it is very close to Swissminiatur.
We dropped off our bags, changed into sandals, and headed down to see the Swiss sights in miniature form. Switzerland is made up of 26 cantons, similar to US states. The Swissminiatur landscape has 126 numbered exhibits, covering natural beauties such as the Matterhorn and human created structures – castles, farms, and airports. Anyone moving to Switzerland should make Swissminiatur their first stop, if only to plan a travel itinerary.
The hotel also has a bar and restaurant. They even had a high chair for the baby, an uncommon occurrence in Switzerland. The food was obviously Italian in style and pretty good. Breakfast is included at the hotel, which means bread, coffee, hot chocolate, and various other Swiss staples. It isn’t obvious to me why the hotels always have Nutella and bread for my kid. The last thing I need before a day of sight seeing is a hyped up kid on sugar and chocolate. No matter, my kids like it.
No, Switzerland does not have mutant-size zombie trees, this is a miniature replica of a ski lodge. The white slide is a working replica of a bob sled track. The white mountain in the back is the snow-covered Matterhorn.
Swiss buildings and castles have quite a bit of fine detail and it shows up as scaled down art in each building. The artists who crafted each exhibit paid attention to the small things.
Melide rests on Lake Lugano. It is possible to take a boat from Melide to the city of Lugano but the boats do not run too often and we didn’t manage to catch one. Instead we took the local train, the S-bahn, at the end of our stay. Off to Lugano followed by Bellinzona.
Swissminiatur is an outdoor attraction so during the winter it is not open every day.