The Big Day Came…..

We spent ten days in Curaçao for our daughter’s wedding. Four days going through the last details, four days celebrating and enjoying the company of family and friends and two days resting before coming home. We went from relaxed moods, to nervous times when we were sure it was not going to happen. Days with rain, humidity and heat, mosquitoes and endless details to be worked out, days of sunshine and high hopes for a good day for the wedding, ups and downs in every sense.

Fortunately, everything came together perfectly and the wedding was beautiful, glorious, emotional and unforgettable. Camille and Oliver were married by the sea, with a magnificent sunset as a background. Their family and friends were  witnesses to a loving ceremony, just as they had dreamed and planned.

Having guests from near and far can be a challenge. In reality, getting everyone to meet each other was easier than I had anticipated. On Thursday, we hosted a casual get together. Even though I was confused with hour, place and arrived late, it was a complete success. Friendships were rekindled and new ones, hopefully, made. Was such a happy occasion with much laughter, introductions and picture-taking. Proved to be a great idea.

Then on Friday, Oliver and his family hosted a Sunset Cocktail Hour. Much more interesting than your average Rehearsal Dinner, this event provided time to talk about the families, the bride and groom, time to hear anecdotes from friends. Everything said about Camille and Oliver touched my heart deeply. It was confirmed that they are loving, sincere and loyal and made for each other. There were tears and laughter and endless toasts. The setting was perfect and everyone enjoyed themselves.

The big day dawned clear and sunny and gorgeous. Yes, it was hot at times and we thought we would melt, but it was perfect. Getting ready, dressing up, spending time with my daughter before the ceremony, family pictures, hugs and happiness. This is what everyone talks about and is an absolute truth: a wedding day brings families together and so much joy.

The setting was breathtaking. Have to say our decorator-in-chief made everything look just like Camille had envisioned. The sun was still high, but there was a promise of a gorgeous sunset. Everyone took their seats and it started. Our daughter walked down the sandy aisle with us. A small gesture to include some of my husband’s family traditions. Emotions were high when we finally got to where Oliver was waiting.

The ceremony was simple, warm and unforgettable. The groom’s sister and the bride’s brother read favorite passages from the Dalai Lama and the Tao of Pooh. So beautiful!!! Camille’s childhood friend sang the Ave Maria, a small gesture to include my family’s traditions. All the while, a pelican entertained us with its endless dives and swirls. Couldn’t have been better!!!

Just as I was thinking, yes, it is happening….it was over and they were married. Tears of happiness, hugs and congratulations, smiles all around abounded as we looked at the newlyweds walk towards the sunset. Breathtaking doesn’t begin to express the feeling. Life is wonderful!!!

After a toast by Oliver that again moved everyone present, there was cake and prosecco and laughter. We departed for the reception venue. Again, it was beautiful…..we couldn’t have asked for anything else. My husband toasted the newlyweds again, the first dance took place, Camille danced with her father, everyone joined in and the party started. Eating, drinking and merriment followed until past midnight….not too long, just right.

At the end of the day, we were tired but ecstatic. Everything has gone the way it was planned, happiness was the theme of the night. As Oliver and Camille embark on their married journey, may the memories of this lovely weekend just turn into more happiness, more joy, more love. This was the beginning, the send-off….and it was perfect!!!

Batteries Recharged…..

It doesn’t seem that way now, but a couple of weeks ago, we were out to sea and disconnected from the everyday. Taking a holiday in the middle of planning a wedding did not seem like the best idea…..but it was!!! For 10 glorious days, nothing but enjoying ourselves was on the agenda.

We usually do not take trips in groups. It is better for us to just go with the flow and see what we want, leave if we are not enjoying the place or simple go and stay for a while in one place. This trip proved that we can do it, we can enjoy our friends and have time for ourselves, go with the flow one day and follow the group another.

A friend from the years I was active in the American Women’s Club of Curaçao and attended FAWCO conferences organized this trip. It was a way to raise money and have fun, spend time with friends and contribute to charity. The plan went smoothly.

Flew to Milan and then took a train to Venice/Mestre. Of course, we did have a couple of days in Venice before meeting our friends. It was relaxed and beautiful, just the two of us. Venice never gets old, but it is also too touristy nowadays and you need to take it in small doses. We walked along the least known places, had lunch away from the tourist crowd, got lost in the winding alleys, crossed small bridges and ignored the most-see tourist spots. Perfect!!!

For the first time, I allowed myself to be pampered and my friend ordered a wheelchair for me. Have to say, it was a fabulous idea. Our embarkation went smoothly. Once we were onboard, it became so hectic. I was not sure this had been a good decision. Too many people, too many children, too much food being offered as we waited for our cabin to be ready.

We sat and had a drink and some munchies…the sight of so much food can really cut your appetite. Still, the day was clear, the sun was shinning and we were looking forward to meeting our friends. I knew the ladies and was ready to meet some of the husbands. So far, so good.

Our cabin was ready when they said it would be, kudos to the cruise company for this. We unpacked and I laid down for a quick rest. Then the expected routine: lifejackets drill, getting to our assigned deck. Nothing new, but found it a bit disorganized this time. Never mind, you need to know what to do and where to go…period.

Then came our departure from Venice. While on deck to see this, we met another one of my friends…..how absolutely wonderful to see her after so many years. Met her husband too and we stayed there looking mesmerized as the city was left behind and we went out to sea. Venice absolutely looks different from the water.

That evening we met the rest of my friends. During dinner we bonded. I know it sounds absolutely corny, but it did happen. We continue to have fun together, go on excursions and side trips, take pictures, act silly, learn more about each other. No other way to do this kind of traveling. You are assured company you like, which is just what you need.

It is not always that you can be on a cruise and be able to completely (or almost completely) ignore the rest of the people taking the same cruise. We had such fun just sharing with each other and taking breaks as we needed them. We met for drinks after dinner and went to all the shows, laughed out loud at the silliness of it all. We played Bingo and had a Chinese Auction to raise money for charity. These ladies really know how to put the fun in fundraising!!!

Bari was an absolute gem. Got a tour around the city with a fantastic guide, tasted some great pugliese products and visited too many churches. We even sang “Sinterklaas kapoentje” at the church of St Nicholas!!!

The Greek islands were fabulous. From the trip to Delos to visit the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, to the ride around Mykonos and drinks at sunset.

 

Knossos Palace, the real labyrinth of legend, was the highlight in Crete.

Corfu gave us Empress Sissi’s palace. Dedicated to Achilles, this was some second home!!!

Dubrovnik was amazing!!! Our guide took us high on a winding road to see the city from above. He was a war veteran and regaled us with stories of the war while driving up that road…..a bit scary!!! The view was breathtaking, no other word would do.

Down in the Old Town, we visited the oldest pharmacy in Europe located in a Franciscan monastery.

Then we visited the second oldest synagogue in Europe. It was founded by Sephardic Jews after the expulsion from Spain.

 

In no time we were back in Venice and ready to come home. Disembarking was again very easy. We had time to say our good byes while waiting for my wheelchair ride. Returning to Milan, we became convinced of one thing: leave train traveling for the younger set. Even traveling First Class, you have to lug your suitcases up and down. There is no help, no porters and not enough time to achieve all this without running out of steam.

Believe it or not, despite the abundance of food, we did not gain weight. Seems we took our three regular meals and did not indulge in snacks and sweets. We had a fabulous time and if this group gets together to travel again, we will join them without a doubt. Friendship were renewed and we are again in touch. I had my rest and I loved every minute. Life is wonderful!!!