Weddings of 2010, part 2

The second wedding of this summer took place in Portugal, on a beautiful summer day in August. The thermometer showed 40 degrees Celcius and I was happy not to be a man, as having bare feet and wearing a dress was warm enough!

The ceremony itself was held in the Sagrada Familia church in Entroncamento, about an hour drive north of Lisbon. It started off with a solist performing Fantasía, a song I first heard sung by Il Divo a few years ago and which made a beautiful opening number, followed by something even more beautiful : the entry of the bride herself. Ana is always beautiful but this day she looked truly amazing and I can imagine that Daniel felt pretty good about what was about to happen…!

The reception, held at the Quinta das Sentieiras in Abrantes, after the wedding was like taken from an american movie. On arrival we were all welcomed by servants carrying around different kinds of appetizers, table’s lined up with chef’s composing skewers of our choice and free bars serving Sangria among other things – all of this to the tunes performed by a live orchestra seated in the middle of everything.

A four course meal was followed by the wedding cake and champagne under the stars, in turn followed by the, by the groom, much dreaded bridal waltz. He needn’t have worried about this part of the evening though as he did very well. I don’t think he stepped on his wife and they both stayed on their feet the whole dance through. The party lasted until the early morning and I think everyone was happy with how the day turned out.

The day after the wedding my friends and I had breakfast in Tomar, followed by a short walk through the narrow streets of the old city before driving back to Lisbon in time to experience the much talked about Café Pastéis de Belém where we enjoyed some delicious pastry before taking a walk along the water side.

In the evening we had dinner at a very traditional Portuguese restaurant where we got to prepare our own meet, which was served to us raw on top of a very hot stone where it cooked itself under our watching eyes. It was a delicious meal, followed by the equally delicious chocholate cake of the house. I’m pretty sure none of us left the restaurant feeling hungry. We took a detour to a bar for a quick drink before heading home to one of the locals where we climbed the stairs up to the roof terrace and spent an hour or two talking about a little bit of everything while enjoying our view of Lisbon from above under a star filled sky and a temperature of 29 degrees. It’s crazy to think about it being hotter this night at almost 2 in the morning than on a GOOD summer day in Sweden… I would really like to return to Lisbon, there seemed to be so many more things to see and do there, not to mention the weather being great there.. 🙂

At five in the morning I took a cab to the airport along with a friend of mine, marking the end of yet another intense reunion/wedding weekend. I wonder who’ll be the next one to get married, and when this will happen. Looking forward to next years reunion either way, hoping to be reunited with our Canadian group member as well as she’s been very missed out during the last few get-togethers..

Weddings of 2010, part 1

This year I had two international weddings to attend, first off was the one in Helsinki where Anna Rönngård was to become Mrs Kietz. I flew over to Helsinki on the morning of the wedding day and as the rest of my friends who were to attend the wedding had all arrived the day before I was left alone with finding my way from the airport to the hotel. The bus dropped me off at the train station and I managed to find a map of the city centre, however, it wasn’t a very tourist friendly map so I had some trouble understanding how to interpret it and finding out where I was and what direction I was heading. In the end I decided to just pick a direction and see where it took me, a decision that proved very fortunate as it didn’t take long until I stood face to face with Alex, Daniel, Ana, Kissy and Toby. What an amazing co-incidence! They were just on their way to grab some lunch so I decided to join. 25 metres from where we all met we ran into the bride to be! You can imagine that Helsinki felt like quite a small city after this – in less than ten minutes I had managed to run into everyone that I now in this city!

After having had a look at the market place down by the water side and tried the reindeer meatballs (which didn’t taste all that different to regular ones) we returned to the hotel and got ready for the ceremony which was to be held in St Lawrence church in Vantaa, outside Helsinki. Unlike the wedding last summer in Austria I actually understood what the priest was saying, for most of the ceremony that is. Being in Finland half of it was held in swedish and half in finish – actually took me a while to understand what happened when I suddenly had a hard time hearing what the priest was saying but then it struck me that he had switched language in the middle of everything. Something happened during the ceremony that fascinated me. As in sweden the psalms were in a key not fit for amateurs so I had a hard time singing along even though the words were familiar to me, a problem that didn’t seem to actually be a problem for my austrian friends who sang along DESPITE of not knowing what they were singing! When I asked them afterwards they acted like it was nothing, “if you know the hymns in one language you can easily follow the rest of them”… hm.. I don’t know about that…

After the ceremony we all got into a bus and went to the location of the reception: Merimelojien Maja, which is situated close to the Rowing Stadium in Töölö. It was a beautiful setting, althoug it would have been even better had it not been windy as h**l! All the information during the evening was given in three languages. First in swedish, than finish and last but not least english – something that caused quite a few smiles during the welcoming speech at the reception when the brother of the groom talked about the Uni-sex facilities as everyone got the point already when the information was given in swedish and then it became VERY clear to everyone when it had also been said in finish and english using the same expression in all three languages.

The evening turned out to be quite the success and once again it was shown that it is quite a small world that we live in. There was for example a finish girl at the party who’s cousin’s daughter, living in Sweden, is a friend of a friend of mine and the only girl seated at our table that was not part of our Erasmus crew, who had flown in from Sydney to spend a summer at home, turned out to live on top of the chocolate store that was across the street from where I lived during my ten days in Sydney.

The food and wine was great, the Koskenkorva nice and chilled, the speeches amusing and the games very entertaining (I got a few good ideas for the next swedish wedding….). The party lasted until early morning and it was with sore feet that I returned to the hotel with the rest of the guys at dawn.

After a few hours of sleep we met up with Daniel and Ana for a breakfast in town, followed by a walk around the city before leaving for the airport. As usual the reunion meant a hectic weekend but also, as usual, it was well spent time in great company.

Except for a few short walks around Helsinki I didn’t really get to see a lot of the city, but the parts that I did see made me want to return some day for a longer stay.

Last but not least I’d like to finish this entry off by sending a big thank you to the newly weds for a great weekend and all the best to them in their future life together!

Reunion of 2009

My second semester as a student in Göteborg I signed up to be a Student Buddy, which meant that I was involved in the welcoming of international students who did their semester abroad at Handels in Göteborg. In hindsight I can easily say that it was one of my best decisions so far!

During this first semester as a Student Buddy I became part of a tight group of seven people who hung out a lot from january until the end of the summer when the last person left Göteborg. This group was increased by some international students who had been on their exchange in Göteborg during the autumn semester in 2004, before I started my Student Buddy career, and who were friends with the people I had gotten to know. So, besides me the group consists of a girl from Canada, another from Italy, a third from Austria, a fourth from Germany and a fifth from Finland as well as three german and two potuguese men.

Ever since we met in 2005 we have made it a tradition to meet up somewhere in Europe for a week or a weekend to reminisce about old times and to make new memories. Despite the years passing we have always been at least 8 people making it to the reunions. The first year we met in Paris, the second year in Portugal, the third year in Athens and this fourth reunion took all of us but 2 to Freistadt, Austria where we got to witness the wedding of one of the members of our reunion group.

I arrived in Linz in the afternoon of midsummer’s eve, the 19th of june. Luckily one of the germans also flew to Linz so we met up for a coffee at the train station before continuing the journey to Freistadt together. Thanks to a very helpful nun we managed to get off at the right station despite the fact that the names of the stations were not called out, something I found utterly bizarre..

It was a rainy day in Freistadt but nevertheless the mood was great! On arrival at the inn I saw that the italian girl and her boyfriend had already arrived and I hadn’t seen her since the reunion in Portugal two years ago so after checking in we had a Freistadt beer with her and her boyfriend while awaiting the arrival of the others. Next to arrive was one of the portuguese and his girlfriend, whom I had never met before but heard a lot of good things about and was curious to get to know. They also joined us for beers and when hearing that the last bunch, who were arriving together, were delayed until eleven o’clock due to some train issues, the six of us decided to go out for dinner.

All but two of us ordered a schnitzel dish where we got to try three different types of the traditional schnitzel. It was really tasty! By the time the rest of the group arrived we had already managed to consume about 2 litres of beer per person and conversations ran very smoothly! We all stayed at the restaurant until just after midnight, being the birthday of one of the germans on the 20th we had to celebrate the beginning of his day with a schnaps before returning to the inn. The schnaps was really awful though and I would have happily returned to the inn and my awaiting bed without it!

At the day of the wedding most of the morning was spent preparing for the wedding ceremony. We all dressed up from head to toe, was so nice to see the guys looking all fancy. Even the cars were pimped with bow’s before we drove to the church which was located in a small village outside Freistadt. We took our positions in the procession, put on our little bunch of herb on our chests to signal whether or not we were married and then started the walk behind the bride and groom to the church where I spent 90 minutes watching a priest speaking a language of which I did not get much more than the word liebe. I think it was his most frequently used word though so I didn’t do too bad.

After the ceremony we were all handed a balloon and a note each on which we were to write down a wish for the wedding couple which was to be tied to the balloon and released into the sky. It was pretty impressive to see all those red heart shaped balloons fly off into the sky. Will be fun to see how many of these wishes that are actually returned to the bride and groom though, considering they got married in the middle of nowhere I can imagine that a big part of them will just end up in the forest where no man will ever find them.

After the release of the balloons we got to congratulate the newly weds before returning to Freistadt where we had a guided tour around the old parts of the city to attend. This tour would probably have been very interesting, had I understood german. As the guide didn’t speak english I had to rely on a friend to translate for me which caused a lot of the information to be lost along the way. It was a nice walk though!

Once done with the tour we rushed back to the inn and finished pimping our wedding gift before rushing on to the location at which the dinner and party was to be held. It was a beautiful setting with white lillies and chandeliers. Dinner tasted great and so did the cake. Personally I preferred the cake’s coating of white chocolate! Yummie!

A lot of wine was consumed during the hours spent at the wedding party and the dance floor got its fair share of dancers during the course of the evening. I sure did my part and I had such a great time in the process! At about one o’clock us youngsters moved on to Freistadts biggest club (I would call it a bar) where the party was continued until the early morning. Quite a memorable evening I must say!

Sunday morning I was so close to missing out on breakfast due to waking up a bit late. I rushed in just minutes before ten though. Luckily I wasn’t the last one to arrive and we all got our breakfasts without any comments about the time.. After breakfast we packed up, got divided into cars, said our goodbyes and left in different directions. 7 of us spent a day in Linz before flying back to our different destinations, completely exhausted after yet another action packed reunion.

I was happy to be back in my own bed late sunday night, but I am already looking forward to the next reunion, be it in Finland, Sweden or Ireland. And this time I hope that the two missing people of the group will be able to join us for the fifth reunion of “One Two Sheep”.