A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about wedding

A Winter Wedding

Sandy's Wedding - Amsterdam & North Holland

rain 9 °C
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Our final holiday for the year was a weekend in Amsterdam, as my friend Sandy was getting married shortly before Christmas. As the wedding was on Monday 23rd, we decided to make a weekend of the trip as Chris had never been to the Netherlands.

With there being several flights a day, we headed on an early afternoon flight and arrived in the Dutch capital around an hour later. With plenty of time, we took it easy, and after grabbing some dinner popped over to the Westerpark area where an indoor Christmas market was being held - perfect for a cold December evening, before heading back to the hotel for the evening

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets

The following day we headed into the city proper. Having been to Amsterdam 5 times before I knew my way around, but there were a few things I hadn't seen, so we started by visiting the Museumplein, with views of the Rijksmuseum and another Christmas Market.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

We then headed into the city itself, past the many canals and the flower market before arriving at Dam Square

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Canals

We then made our way over to the Red Light District, where Chris got waved at by a lady. After grabbing food, we headed over to the Anne Frank House before finally making our way back to the hotel.

The following day we left the hotel and headed out of the city, as today was the day of the wedding. So far we had been staying at a hotel close to Sloterdijk station, so that it would be central to the airport, the city, and getting to the wedding - none of which being more than a 30 minute train ride away.

After taking the train we arrived in the small town of Castricum, from where we would need a taxi for the last 3km as there was no public transport. On researching prior to the trip it seemed we could just get an Uber when we arrived. However when we turned up this wasn't possible, so we ended up taking a stretched limo taxi for the 5 minute drive.

The wedding was taking place at a hotel just outside the town, and not long after arriving Sandy's parents came over to say hello, after having a nice catch up my friend Roel from the south of the Netherlands also arrived.

After having a quick catch up having not seen each other for over 3 years, it was now time for the wedding to start. We headed into the hall where Sandy's mum, who is a registrar was carrying out the wedding herself.

Waiting for it to start

Waiting for it to start

It was very much the same as a usual wedding, although longer than those I was used to - being full of many life stories and ending around an hour later. However as it was all in Dutch, we didn't know fully what was being discussed, except the lovely, but also slightly embarrassing moment when the language swapped to English to thank us for coming, and everyone else turned round to look at the foreigners!

After the ceremony finished and the couple were married, we then tucked into the wedding cake before mingling, and photos.

With the happy couple

With the happy couple

Room keys were then handed out as everyone was staying at the hotel overnight, before a half hour breather prior to dinner. It is interesting to see how even though parts of the ceremony are all the same, they take place in a different way!

We then went into dinner where we were sat with Roel once again, and we had another catch up. We weren't sure exactly what was going on and made sure we had our fill on the food before realising that this was only the starter, and more food was coming!

With Roel

With Roel

Being a relatively small wedding, we got to spend plenty of time with the happy couple as well, and felt very much part of the day despite an occasional language barrier.

Games

Games

After games, the party started! Sandy, Roel and I all know each other primarily as we are Eurovision fans, and I was pleased to hear some of the songs made the playlist. And even better, everytime one came on the dancefloor cleared, so I had free rein for dancing :D

Party Time

Party Time

Just before the party ended we all went outside to create a sprinkler tunnel for the couple to walk through, and then at midnight we had a countdown celebration as it was now 10 years to the day that they had got together.

After a long busy day we went off to bed and the following morning had a breakfast together with all the other guests, who by now we had got to know quite well.

Roel then gave us a lift back to the station and we headed back to the airport and finally home for Christmas.

Posted by kmmk17 07:17 Archived in Netherlands Tagged wedding city friends party christmas Comments (0)

Eclectic Istanbul

Turkey - Istanbul

sunny 27 °C
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After a few short trips this year, this trip was to be our big holiday for the year. A mix of exploration, adventure, relaxation, sun and reunions. However the stomach ulcer and toothache that had plagued me all summer had another sting in their tail. Having worse pain than ever before just weeks before the holiday was due to start, I again visited the doctors and changed to a strict diet - hoping to be healed enough by the time the trip came around, but sadly it was not to be.

Despite everything having been organised, booked and sorted for the trip, just two days before we were due to leave we made the sad decision to cancel the first half of the holiday. We would no longer be visiting the Caucasus, hopefully being able to resurrect that part of the trip in the near future. Instead we would now fly directly to Istanbul, where we would be attending the wedding of two of my friends from my Erasmus experience in Germany back in 2012, and subsequently continuing the second half of the planned trip. I therefore cancelled all the bookings and rescheduled our trip, which would now begin a week later.

In hindsight this was the right decision to make, as sad as it felt at the time, and I still ended up having a sick day during this time which reiterated that I just wasn't able to have an adventure holiday right now. Having had an extra week to rest, recover and do the right things, by the time it came around to our rescheduled holiday I was much more ready for the trip.

Despite waking up still feeling a bit ill I was determined to just get on holiday and have a break from everything, so we headed down to Heathrow for our flight. And with it being a normal airline instead of our usual budget airlines we got the luxury of in-flight entertainment and food. After a four hour flight, we came in to land at Istanbul Airport just as the evening arrived. Although after all these hours, it was only now that my stomach pains had started easing - being on the go all day had probably not helped it to settle.

Istanbul Airport was new and had replaced the one that I had used on my last visit, but it was not yet fully connected to the city and so we still had to take a bus to get the hotel. By now it was getting pretty late and as we didn't want to wait an extra half hour, we rushed around trying to buy our transport cards and top them up as quickly as possible to make the next bus. Luckily we made it, and finally we were headed into the city.

Around an hour or so later we made it, and after a short walk with our suitcases up and down the subway passes we arrived at the hotel for our first night, which was also where most of the other wedding guests were to stay. Whilst checking in we bumped into my friend Daniel from Malta, and his partner José, who were also attending the wedding and would be exploring the city with us for the next few days.

After a well earned rest, the following morning we went down for breakfast, being joined by Daniel and José. Not long later, after heading back to the room to get ready for the day we left the hotel and headed into the city. With today being our only full day to explore, we decided to tackle the oldest part - the Historic Peninsular, south of the Golden Horn. Starting with the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest in the world. It was as to be expected, full of shops teaming with items for sale, as well as people everywhere. It was also something new for me, as I hadn't got to see this on my previous visits.

Inside the Grand Bazaar

Inside the Grand Bazaar

After a little wander around, we headed out of the complex walking past the Column of Constantine towards the real heart of the city - the Sultanahmet district. With it being Friday we knew the Blue Mosque wouldn't be open in the morning, and so after checking it's opening times we headed over towards the Hagia Sofia, viewing it from the park between the sights.

Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sofia

After purchasing tickets for the Hagia Sofia, we headed around the museum, which was undergoing a bit of renovation, unfortunately lessening some of the impressive impact that would normally be encountered.

Inside the Hagia Sofia

Inside the Hagia Sofia

After exploring the lower and upper levels, we headed back out into the square, and with half an hour to wait, we decided to visit the Basilica Cistern. As we waited in the queue, we had some catch up conversations with Daniel, although it wasn't long before we entered the cistern.

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Unfortunately inside had been drained so we weren't treated to any reflections but it was still an impressive sight. By now, the Blue Mosque was almost open so we headed over and made our way in.

Entering the Blue Mosque

Entering the Blue Mosque

Unfortunately like the Hagia Sofia it was undergoing restoration, and so the enormity and beauty of the mosque wasn't able to be seen, but it was still a nice visit.

Entering the Topkapı Palace

Entering the Topkapı Palace

Still early afternoon we had time to also visit the Topkapı Palace, and so headed over to the northern end of the peninsular. Buying our tickets, we entered not long after and took a walk around the complex. After taking views over the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, we entered some of the museum areas. However after a long day and still not being 100% we started to feel quite tired, and so left to grab food and head back to the hotel for a rest.

Views over the Bosphorus

Views over the Bosphorus

With Camilla and Onur checking into the hotel tonight, on the way back to the hotel I thought about how funny it would be if we saw them at reception as we walked in. By coincidence, as we reached the entrance there they were coming out of a taxi! Knowing that there wouldn't be a lot of opportunities to spend much time with them on this busy weekend, we said a quick hello and had a short catch up as they waited for their room to be ready.

With more of their other guests arriving, including some Swedes who I had met a few times previously, we headed back to the room to find that our keys no longer worked. After heading back down to reception via the ridiculously slow lifts, and the entire population of Turkey who have no idea how one works, we eventually managed to get a chilled few hours.

As most of the wedding guests were now at the hotel, during the evening a pre-wedding get together had been arranged at a local pub. We met Daniel and José in reception and headed down the road together. Finding the table, it wasn't long before we were joined by other wedding guests as well as the happy couple themselves. It was an enjoyable evening catching up with them but as ever it was over too soon!

The following day was the day of the wedding, although this wasn't starting until this evening. Therefore after breakfast we headed out once again with Daniel and José, this time for the Beyoğlu district on the north side of the Golden Horn. After taking the funicular down the hill, we arrived at the ferry port and took a boat over to the other side of the Bosphorus.

Ferry Across the Bosphorus

Ferry Across the Bosphorus

After a twenty minute trip, seeing the sights of the heart of Istanbul on the European side, we arrived in Asia. Although with time already catching up with us, and not much to see on this side, we walked back round the ferry port and boarded the same boat back to Europe. Asia had been stunning but 5 minutes was enough for now.

Upon arriving back in Europe, we started heading back to the hotel, saying goodbye to Daniel and José and walking up the hill past the Galata Tower.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower

This area was full of little tourist shops so we bought some postcards before walking back to the metro stop seeing the historic trams that run down the avenue towards Taksim Square. We then headed back to the hotel for a rest and afternoon nap to prepare us for the late wedding night to come.

Beyoğlu Trams

Beyoğlu Trams

After a good rest we then got ourselves ready for the wedding and headed down into reception to wait for the shuttle bus, where we caught up with some the wedding guests we were already getting to know quite well.

Not long later we boarded the bus and headed out of the city and into the woods to a lovely setting amongst the trees, which was where the wedding was being held. Upon arrival we were welcomed by the close family of the couple, and mingled with the other guests.

Wedding Venue

Wedding Venue

After waiting around for a while - the event was clearly being held in Turkish time, the happy couple emerged and walked towards the aisle hand in hand. After a very short ceremony in Turkish and English, which essentially consisted of them saying their names and the "I Dos", they were married, and we were led to the tables for a five course dinner.

Just Married!

Just Married!

We were sat together with the other Erasmus people, including our Turkish friend Merve, who I hadn't seen in 7 years, as well as a Turk who now lives in Germany who I didn't recognise, but had remembered me from the speech I gave on the last party night in Bremen back in July 2012. (I did later find a photo in which we had been photographed together, but that's hardly surprising considering the amount of people I met during that year!)

Dinner chats

Dinner chats

We had a fun time reminiscing on our shared experiences, and talking about the people we remembered, and sharing updates on how everyone was. As we had conversations, it was as if nothing had changed since the moment we had left. It was a really fun evening and showed yet again just how much of a unique experience Study Abroad is, as these were people we had spent up to just four months with and yet they were friends for life.

After eating dinner the married couple went round each table individually to say hello. Onur had studied in Bremen for the whole year, as I had, whilst Camilla had joined during the summer semester. Camilla was living in the same house as me, and one of their first meetings had been at a party I had thrown at our house the start of term, which Onur would himself move into a few months later. During the summer semester I was able to witness their relationship develop and so it was a real pleasure to be able to be here for thir wedding.

Photo with the happy couple

Photo with the happy couple

After some more chats on our table it was time for the traditional speeches and first dance, as well as a game of Mr & Mrs, which I now assume is a Scandinavian tradition, after seeing the same thing at a Danish Wedding.

After some Turkish music and dancing it hit midnight, and the older guests were heading home, whilst the younger guests were headed to the "After Party". This was a real change of scene, with more modern, western music.

After Party

After Party

The party was a lovely experience getting to spend some fun and slightly drunk times with friends, but as ever it was over too soon and before we knew it it had hit 3am. As we waited for the shuttle bus we chatted to the guests and happy couple for the last time recounting stories and reminiscing about our times together. We eventually got back to the hotel at about 4am, and said goodbye to everyone before getting a well earned sleep.

The following day was always planned as a write-off, and after waking in time for breakfast and seeing just a few of the wedding guests who had managed to wake from the night before, we headed back to bed for another few hours.

Waking at around lunchtime we spent the day lazing in the hotel, heading down to the swimming pool before heading out for some food at the local shopping centre. After three days of seeing everyone all the time it felt a bit strange not seeing anyone at all - but it was also refreshing just to relax.

The following morning after breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed to Taksim Square, taking a look around our last sight in Istanbul.

Taksim Square

Taksim Square

Not long later we caught our bus to the other airport of the city, crossing the Bosphorus to the Asian side, from where we would catch a flight and continue our trip by exploring Anatolia.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 13:26 Archived in Turkey Tagged architecture mosque wedding culture history city friends party drunk islam souq sickness erasmus turkey2019 Comments (2)

Wedding Guests and Bike Pusher-overers

Amalie's Wedding - Osnabrück

overcast 10 °C
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Just a month after returning from South America, I was already heading on my next adventure. The reason? A wedding!

Amalie from Denmark, who I had met on my Erasmus experience in 2012 in Germany, and subsequently visited a few times after, had invited Chris and I to her wedding in Osnabrück, Germany.

We were invited to a whole day of events on the Saturday, but as there was no direct airport link, we flew in via Dortmund (around an hour to the south) on the Friday afternoon, eventually arriving in the city by the evening.

Osnabrück was a typical German city with a modern pedestrianised city centre, leading to the historic and quaint Old City, with a cathedral and town hall and square. We were staying in the hotel where the reception in the evening would be held - a quaint little hotel in the heart of the old city.

17_1489258..ck-by-night.jpg17_1489258972_the-hotel.jpg

Upon arrival we were already very tired from the long day of travelling, and as the night set in we had a few glasses of wine before being joined at the end of the evening by Laurène, my French friend who was also attending the wedding the following day.

The next morning we woke up for breakfast, before getting ready for the ceremony at the early time of 10:30. Having no idea what to expect, as this was not only a foreign wedding, but also of an international couple, we went downstairs to find the bride, Amalie, standing in the courtyard waiting for her ride to the ceremony.

Wishing her good luck, we then headed towards the Castle where the registry office was located. Upon arriving, we found the small crowd of guests stood outside, and seeing the groom Stephan, we knew this was the right place to wait. Not long after, Amalie and her maids of honour turned up, waving at us all before coming over to greet us and having some photos taken.

17_1489258972_the-castle.jpg 17_1489258..he-ceremony.jpg

After a ceremony in German, they were finally married and we then all went up to congratulate them both. It was at this point that Amalie's mother approached me, introduced herself, and told me about how much she had heard about me! Pleasant things I hope!

17_1489258..h-the-heart.jpg 17_1489258..the-wedding.jpg

We then headed back outside for many photos, and to watch as a bed sheet with a big love heart sewn on was unfolded, with the couple both cutting out the hole and walking through the heart.

17_1489258972_photos.jpg

After a glass of champagne, it was then time for the close family to head to a restaurant for a meal. This gave us an opportunity to explore the city, and so we headed back to the hotel to change into casual clothes for a bit of tourism!

17_1489258..t-push-over.jpg

Leaving the hotel in the heart of the old city, we headed through the Market Square, past the Town Hall towards the St. Peter Cathedral.

Taking some photos of the cathedral, a big gust of wind blew over the bikes in front of us. Next thing, a German lady was shouting at us. Explaining that we didn't speak (enough) German, she then asked in her most assertive English if we had pushed over her bike? Yes, of course we had, it's what we do for fun in random German cities.

Taking a look around the cathedral, we then continued along the old city wall towards the shopping area where we has Schnitzel for lunch, and then popped in the shops.

Having returned to the hotel for a few hours of rest, at 7 we headed downstairs for the party. This again was a small event, and like earlier in the day, it was unlike any wedding party I'd ever seen. But it was fun to see how the German and Danish traditional inter-played with their own ideas.

After a welcome speech from Amalie, we had lots of chats with other guests before the first of the party games - a battle between the new husband and wife on Hans Christian Andersen fairytales, created by Amalie's father and step-mother.

After another period of chat as well as the Flying Buffet coming around, it was then time for the next battle - a game of Mr & Mrs, created by Amalie's mother.

17_1489258972_party-games.jpg

We then had an interlude of the dance created by the hen night girls, before the cutting of the cake, and our final game - a treasure island quiz challenge in German by Stephan's friends. By now it was gone midnight, and it was finally time for the first dance, subsequently followed by the midnight buffet.

After watching the photo slideshow of the happy couple's life together, we finally made our way to bed to get some well needed rest after the busy day.

The following morning over breakfast we said our goodbyes to the newly married couple as well as other guests of the wedding, before checking out and heading to the station.

Back in Dortmund, we had a couple of hours to explore the city, however as it was Sunday it was pretty empty, and unlike most German cities, there was little of interest to actually see, bar the Registration Office.

After a lot of travelling and a busy few days, the first weekend trip of the year was now over. An interesting and different experience for us!

Posted by kmmk17 10:53 Archived in Germany Tagged wedding city erasmus Comments (0)

Delightful Dushanbe

Central Asia - Dushanbe

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Waking up on Sunday morning - we had our last breakfast in Uzbekistan, before boarding our coach to take us to the Tajik border.

Whilst the exit from Turkmenistan and entry into Uzbekistan had been bad enough - with checks for carpets and drugs, it was the exit from Uzbekistan that would be the worst border experience on the trip.

Upon arrival we were given customs forms in which we were told to simplify our currency exports to just USD and EUR. However what they were really after was anything they could fine you for - pornography, photos of the border, drugs etc.

Quickly deleting anything that may cause a problem, I then had to pass over my phone and camera whilst the officials inspected all photos, whilst I put my bags through a scanner. Luckily I did not have a laptop with me - as those who did were subjected to an even longer experience, having "sex" and "porn" searched through their files.

I was then quizzed on what the contents of my baggage was, before having to show them all my drugs. Going back to the desk I still had to wait whilst my photos were inspected. I was then told to have another temperature test before being able to wait in a painfully slow queue to hand in my passport for the immigration check.

Eventually I was able to leave Uzbekistan and walk towards Tajikistan - or so I thought, as right at the final exit point I was required to hand over my phone again for the border guard to check my photos, on which he proceeded to quiz me over this year's holiday snaps, whilst looking for photos of naked women.

3D Tajik Map

3D Tajik Map

Upon arrival into Tajikistan, the process was far simpler, although there was little signage and many empty buildings, I did eventually find the right way, where they quickly stamped my passport, jotted down my name and details and let me through. Of the two hour process, perhaps 5% of it was actually spent on the Tajik side....leaving a rather sour taste in the mouth for what had been an enjoyable trip to Uzbekistan. According to our guide, it was worse treatment than you receive leaving North Korea!

Wedding in Hisor

Wedding in Hisor

Nevertheless we continued our travel and en route to the Tajik capital, we stopped off at Hisor to view the castle, as well as gain an insight into the make-up of the country, as well as witnessing local wedding celebrations.

Dushanbe

Dushanbe

We then finally headed to the beautiful Dushanbe, the city surrounded by mountains, and covered in photos of the president.

One of the many presidential posters

One of the many presidential posters


Parliament

Parliament

We began opposite the parliament building, before entering the Rudaki Park, viewing the surrounding monuments and buildings like the Independence monument, Palace of the Nation and Flag Pole.

Rudaki Park

Rudaki Park

We then went to our hotel - the 5* Dushanbe Sheraton, treating ourselves to a bit of luxury after the stressful morning.

5*

5*

After a quick swim at the hotel pool, some of us then headed out to the restaurant, where we had our own private room - complete with, you guessed it, kebab meat, bread and soup.

Private Meal

Private Meal

After the busy stressful day, we then headed back to the hotel for a well earned rest in our luxurious rooms before tomorrow's long drive to the Fergana Valley.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Tajikistan Tagged mountains wedding city parliament border centralasia Comments (0)

Casually gatecrashing a wedding

Central Asia - Samarkand

overcast 22 °C


After a relatively quick drive of just 5 hours from Bukhara, where we debated what is and what is not a country for a "visited countries" list, we arrived in the historic Silk Road city of Samarkand - one of the real highlights of the tour.

Family photo

Family photo

After checking in at the hotel we headed to a fancy restaurant for a meal in our tour guide's home city. Upon arrival we found that a local wedding reception was taking place downstairs and so from the balcony next to our table (and with a vodka shot each) we enjoyed watching the local customs.

Local wedding

Local wedding

After Ian threw down some notes to the wedding below, a member of the wedding party then came upstairs to invite us down! Next thing we knew we were in the wedding party itself, even dressed in our sweaty tourist day-wear. With our evening becoming longer by the time dessert was served up, we were ready to go - but as it was extremely tasty I wasn't going to let this go to waste and helped myself to six puddings! We then made our way back to the hotel, stopping off at the night-lit Registan square.

Inside the Ulugh Beg Observatory

Inside the Ulugh Beg Observatory

Our full day tour of Samarkand started after breakfast at the Ulugh Beg Observatory, before heading outside the city to a silk paper factory and back to the Afrasiyab Museum. On our return into the city we headed to Timur's mausoleum, the Gur-e-Amir, before lunch. After another 4 course meal, we finally visited the grand attraction, the Registan - a large public square surrounded by three madrassahs.

Registan

Registan

Taking in the views we walked around the complex before being let free for some hours in the afternoon to explore Samarkand by ourselves.

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrasah

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrasah

I headed to the supermarket opposite to grab some snacks for the next few days - which despite not being much added up to 24,000 som. Paying in 1000 som notes I then found that in order to count cash, the Uzbeks use casino style note counters! I then headed to the tourist street to buy myself a souvenir before going back to the hotel for a rest and to make use of the free WiFi.

Local Show

Local Show

We were treated to a theatrical show showing us the history of Uzbekistan through traditional costume, performed by locals - which as usual meant mostly ethnic Uzbeks, as well as the odd Russian chav. We then made our way to dinner where yet another local party was going on.

Gur-e Amir

Gur-e Amir

With one more look at the Gur-e Amir complex, this time by night, we then made our way to the train station for our overnight train to Termez.

By this point I had grown quite close to several members on the tour, and James and Christine had quickly become my travel mum and dad. As we boarded the four berth train carriage we coincidentally ended up in the same cabin! To add to the hilarity, we then called over Daniel, who I had first met on arrival at Ashgabat, and was my travel brother, to join us in our family cabin!

After being given our bed sheets for the night we then all settled down for our train ride to the Afghan border.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Uzbekistan Tagged mosque wedding culture meal centralasia silkroad Comments (0)

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