crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To Paris and Back Again

We've just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Paris. Aside from a couple minor glitches (like the hotel booked for us being nearly 40 kms from the airport - taxi = ouch!), we had a fantastic time!! I got to see everything on my list, from Notre Dame to la Tour Eiffel. The best part was stumbling upon an impromtu concert/street party on Mont Matre (the highest point of the city) - what an amazing atmosphere!

I have tons of recommendations for anyone heading to Paris! And also, some words of warning: though the Louvre is the world's biggest museum, in my opinion, it is not necessarily the best. I've seen single pieces of more acclaim elsewhere than much of what is found at the Louvre, and I was disappointed not to find any Impressionist nor Abstract paintings. Maybe they were just lost within the vastness of the building: when people say the Louvre is enormous, they are understating it; I'm sure it could house the entire population of Paris, if necessary! And to think, that was someone's home (okay, palace) at one point!

And despite what you may hear, and what the stereotypes propogate, French people are really quite hospitable. We didn't encounter any rude locals, which is more than we can say for some other parts of the world.

It was such an amazing trip, and a weekend did seem sufficient to see and do most major touristy things, but of course we are both eager to go back!

*** click on the pictures in the slideshow for more comments.


    • At 11:18 AM, Blogger Jody (White) and Juan Leon said…

      I am so jealous you went to Paris. We are hoping to go for Christmas 2010 when I finish my MA. I'm sorry about the Louver. Next time you go, go across the river to Musee d'Orsay. That is where all the impressionist works are hung. The museum is in a remodeled train station and is GORGEOUS!!! I can't believe you didn't go there. Oh well... there is always next time.
      Au revoir

    • At 9:57 AM, Blogger Crystal said…

      I can't say enough good things about Paris; you should definitely go.

      No wonder I didn't find the Impressionists, if they weren't even in the Louvre! Too bad we didn't know about this separate museum; totally would have gone. Oh well, next time. Thanks for the info!!
      xx Crystal

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

After the Storm

Now I'm kind of wondering what to do with myself. No wedding to plan, no wedding to save for... um, what are my hobbies again?

Riccardo and I have been busy though, settling back into a routine. He was back to work two days after we arrived back from Canada. Things are going well there; lots more business trips in the works, though seemingly just short ones. And some with great spin-offs for me - more about that later.

I'm also back to work, as of last Tuesday. I've started at my new school, St. Peter's, and so far am quite happy with thing there. As I am also officially a university student again, I'm kind of waiting for the bomb to drop. I'm not teaching my own classes this year, so the past week has been made up of mostly observing things: boring. Of course, at my first day at Uni on Friday, I gained a small inkling of what is to come workwise... should be an interesting year!

Socially, we're keeping things pretty low key. We've been spending a lot of time with my dear British friend, Helen lately. Helen and I get along like peas and carrots because she lived in Japan and worked as an English teacher for two years, too. Also, Mari from Japan is still around, and we see her often. She's settled in quite well, and seems to be enjoying herself. A colleague of Riccardo's Stephane, also known as Frenchy (since he's from France, duh), has been thrown in the crazy mix of late, as he's temporarily posted in Redditch while he awaits his permanent assignment to open up. Last night, for instance, the five of us met up in Leamington Spa (our good old haunt) for dinner at a lovely fondue restaurant. There was even a live DJ. Good times.

Right, so business trips... in just three short weeks, because Riccardo will already be there for work, I am being whisked away to lovely...


Yep, you read right. I'm finally going to Paris. Who's excited?!? We've booked the flights and will be spending a whirlwind weekend in the city of love; the idea is that it's a mini-honeymoon, since the real things is months away yet.

So that's the next highlight on the calendar. But loads to come before then, I'm sure.


Professional Wedding Pictures

These are the first in...


Garden Party Reception

Back in England, with pretty much no time to recover from our Canada-trip and the wedding, we began putting together Reception #2. We were absolutely insane to plan an outdoor party here in England; apparently this summer has been the darkest in about 75 years (least amount of sunshine hours), not to mention the rain. We lucked out, however, because we managed to get one of about 4 sunny days since June!

Helen and I spent Friday afternoon preparing the food - we did it all ourselves! We made greek couscous salad, potato-and-coriander salad, spicy green bean salad, teriyaki salmon and cajun turkey (the latter two were barbequed by BBQ-wiz, Riccardo!).

Basically everything went really well; all but one of the guests who RSVP'd attended (what a surprise!) and we ended up with a full backyard of about 15 people. The food went over well, and everyone had a place to sit. Riccardo even put together a slideshow of wedding pictures which he projected (with a beamer borrowed from work) onto a sheet nailed to our back fence - it worked out great!

About half the guests left around 10:00, at which time the rest of us moved inside for a (you guessed it!) karaoke party. Combined with some Absolute Balderdash, this made for a great end to the whole wedding affair.

**click on the images to get a larger version**


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wedding Pictures

It's amazing to me that the culmination of 14 months of work was over in just one night. I remember reminding myself throughout the event to consciously imprint every last thing into my mind, lest I forget something fabulous. Yet the details are already fading. Somehow, I wish I could do it all over again.

I look back at the wedding though, so fondly. To date, it really was the absolute best day of my life. Of course there were minor problems, as there would be in any event this size, but in my mind, it was perfect. It was everything I wanted our wedding to be. Everything I imagined for my wedding when I was a little girl. I feel like, because I had my hand in everything, and strived so determindly to make it our own, it really ended up being a reflection of us. Special. Perfect.

The following are pictures I've borrowed from some of our guests. Huge thanks to them! We don't yet have the commissioned photos from the photographer - which I'm dying to see. I will post more when possible.

For those of you not there, the ceremony started at 4:30, and was located along the South Thompson river in my parents' neighbour's back garden. Gerri and Wally just went out of their way to make everything about their house and yard perfect for our day; we are just so lucky! Gerri even asked for my wedding colours a year before so that she could begin planting her garden correspondingly. Wow. Enormous thanks, again, to them!

Our guests all hid under a giant willow tree until about 4:25 to escape the blazing heat: it was at least 38 C in the shade! Though we had canopies, the setting sun snuck under them, and most guests had to battle the heat through our short ceremony.

Our wedding commissioner, Sherin Jensen, did such a fabulous job. She was graceful and poignant and allowed us to put our own slant on the ceremony: we wrote a poem together which was included in her speech. Thankfully, Sherin was also brief.

Once the chairs were moved into the reception tent, a cocktail party was set up under the canopies. In honesty, I think most guests dispersed in search of shade, and didn't get to enjoy much food-and-drink, but by dinner time the sun was setting and the temperature perfect! In the meantime, our families and the wedding party were whisked off for photos with our photographer, Nickie LaSaga.

The wedding party consisted of my best friend and current East-coaster, Jessica; Riccardo's best friend and fun-loving German, Thomas; my two lovely sisters, Rebecca and Kelsey; Riccardo's childhood friend Andre and more recent friend from Japan, Shigeru; my other best friend and the next-in-line-for-marriage, Kimberly; and last-but-not-least, our amazingly hardworking brother-in-law, Michael. What a great team!! These people battled through equally hot weather the day before in the rehearsal - even when we made them re-do the procession 4 times! All our friends and family, including those above, and also Jeanette and Melanie (two lovely German ladies), spent tireless hours setting up and cleaning up the site! THANK YOU ALL!

For dinner we arranged for Sanbiki Japanese restaurant to cater. Though some items ran a little low (sorry!), the food was amazing! We were extremely surprised and overwhelmingly pleased to receive two very special presents just after dinner: a lovingly researched family tree joining our two families (dating back to 1420 - amazing!!! - this has never been done on my side of the family!) and a properly cast, personalized bronze bell (which came along with a fabulous, hilarious, embarassing performance and poem)! Thanks to those involved, again, for the very thoughtful gifts.

Tressa, my dearest friend from Japan, was kind enough to be our Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening, and did such a fabulous job of it. She made a touching speech, and was really my go-to-gal. I am forever indebted. Thanks again, Trexi!

Just before cutting our slightly melting cake, Riccardo and I were invited to play a game. In the prove-you-know-your-partner game, we faired pretty well, I think; only had to down a few shots for wrong answers! Apparently the cake, which I ordered from Erwin's Bakery, was very tasty - at least our layer was!

Finally, after brilliant speeches and toasts, we got into the disco part of the evening. This was shortly followed by karaoke. Many people warned us that karaoke could ruin the party atmosphere, but I think it only enhanced things. We actually have Bruce, from Odyssey Music to thank for making all of it come together; he managed a fantastic blend of awesome dancing tunes and great karaoke faves! Huge thanks to him, and to everyone who gave karaoke a go.

And in the wee hours, the party final died down (much to the relief of our neighbours!), and the most magical day of my life came to an end.

If you have pictures of our wedding that you haven't yet shared with us, please let us know - we are very eager to begin putting our album together.


The Stag

Riki's mates organised him a little bachelor party on the Thursday before the wedding. Since non of them knew Kamloops, I found myself giving suggestions for where they should take him. Is it weird to suggest that your fiance's friends take him to the strippers?

Upon arrival, Riccardo was apparently told that though his shirt was nice, he would need to take it off, because he wasn't wearing that for the evening. They provided him with a white T-shirt detailing the items he was to sell: candy hamburgers, silk flowers, kisses and condoms, and a basket and told him that if he wanted to have any drinks that evening, he'd have to earn the money himself. Of course, for every sale, the buyer had to leave a signature on his shirt - some interesting notes there!

The guys ran into another bachelorette party at Fogg'n'Sudds and the bride was made to perform a 'blowjob' (shot) on Riccardo. I guess that's to be expected - though I'm not sure that I should know about these things! Apparently it got worse once the strippers were in the mix...
Enough about that.


In the end, Riccardo managed almost $60 worth of sales, and some free beer from a band who was around town promoting their gig the following night; pretty good for the basket having cost only about $35 to begin with!

Anyway, Riccardo had mentioned that he would love to have a rodeo incorportated into his stag, so I guess, in some form or another, he achieved that. Crazy boys!

Huge thanks to Thomas, Andre, Shigeru and Mike for making Riccardo's 'last' night of freedom so memorable for him!


Bachelorette No 2!

My Maid of (dis-)Honour was nice enough to throw me a SECOND bachelorette party shortly before the wedding. We ladies met up at good ole' Tannis' for a pool party and BBQ. There was tons of great food, and drinks, and it was great that so many people made it. Later, we all dragged our butts into town for some drinks at Cactus Jacks. It was a Thursday, however, so things weren't exactly boppin'. Still, the live band was terrific (if not really dancy) and the company fantastic. Thanks ladies (Jess, Shawna, Rebecca, Kelsey, Caitie, Bailey, Jeannette, Melanie, Ashley, & Tressa), for a fabulous night! Thanks to Tannis for the use of her house and pool, and to Cameron for being the Grill-master!


White Water

Right, so it has been a while, and for that I apologise. I guess for this I can play the WEDDING card - things have been manic.

Overall the time in Canada was BUSY. Riccardo and I didn't even have time for jetlag, or rather, used it to our advantage to cram more To Do List stuff into the early hours. I occupied myself with loads of last-minute shopping, and many appointments with various wedding people. My mom and Kelsey and I also spent DAYS making food (mostly for the cocktail party). Riccardo impressed my socks off by building the fantabulous Torii featured as our wedding archway - what a talented man! He and the other guys (Mike and Shigeru) also built two shoji screens, which actually turned out to be a far more difficult task.

We did manage to get in a few fun things. I think I mentioned that we spent an afternoon at Shuspwap lake; the weather was brilliant and the water was great.

On the Monday before the wedding we were able to take most of a day off and my sisters, brother-in-law, Shigeru, Riccardo and I headed out to Clearwater for a rafting expedition. I have to say, our experience with IWW (?) was great - better that my previous with the Adams River people. The rapids were only about Class 3, but in the calmer bit they let us ride them in the water (***cough! choke!***) and later, we were allowed to go cliff-diving. Supergreat!

So these pictures are of our White Water Adventure - highly recommend it!

I will also include a slideshow of our floating adventure, which occurred the Wednesday before the wedding; I just need to get the CD of Kelsey, who is supposed to bring it in asap. We had a great turnout for that event as more guests, like our German friends, had arrived in Kamloops by this point. What an amazing time!

More to come!


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