Friday, April 13, 2012

Anniversary in Kyoto

One of the wooden wall at Nijo Castle.It has been almost 4 months now since our trip to Japan and yet I keep coming back to it, trying to write more and more about it. As I’ve said many many times before, this vacation of ours was amazing. And even the smallest references to Japan in our everyday lives fill up my heart with warmth. We’ve been to many places there that became special to us and one such place was Kyoto.

Planning


Originally we planned to stay in Osaka and make a couple of day visits to Kyoto. The express train ride was from 15 to 30 minutes long which is much shorter than our ride to Manhattan is. But later on we thought that Kyoto would be a great and very romantic place to spend our anniversary day and night at.

To make it even more special we made a reservation for a stay in Nishiyama Ryokan — a traditional Japanese inn — for the night of November 23rd. The stay also included a traditional Japanese dinner on the eve of 23rd and a breakfast on the morning of 24th. It also happened so that our anniversary of November 23rd fell on the same day as a national holiday in Japan.

Subway station.Our plan was simple — take a bullet train to Kyoto in the morning of the 23rd, buy the daily passes for Kyoto subway and buses and spend 2 days exploring the city with a stay and celebration in the above mentioned ryokan. We had the luxury of leaving all our bags in Osaka at our Hilton hotel, since we had a room there booked and paid for anyhow. And that’s exactly what we did.

Morning


On the early morning of our anniversary day we ate breakfast at our hotel buffet and soon after got on the train the schedule of which we confirmed via Hyperdia website — our JR station in Osaka was right across the street from our hotel.

Nijo Castle grounds.We got slightly confused by the signs at the station, since they were not specifying Kyoto on the train that we were supposed to take. When we asked for confirmation at the entrance booth we were told to take some other train which would get us to Kyoto later than the one we were thinking of taking.

It turned out that the sign at the station was actually specifying the last stop of the train (which makes sense) and Kyoto was one of the stops before that. So we did hop on the train that we planned to take and it worked out just right. In a little more than 20 minutes we were standing at the main Kyoto JR station right in the heart of Kyoto itself.

Inside Kyoto JR station.Our first order of business was to buy our passes for the local trains and buses — JR basically doesn’t have any lines to any of the places that we wanted to visit and we thought that instead of making it hard on ourselves by trying to calculate the cheapest and the correct fare to all the places we wanted to visit we would rather spend a little bit more money and just buy a pair of unlimited passes.

Inside Kyoto JR station.The option that we chose was a 2-day pass covering two main subway lines and most of the city buses for ¥2,000 per person. That came out to about $50 for both of us and gave us the freedom of hopping on as many buses and trains as we wanted.

After spending ¥4,000 on the passes we came to a sad realization that we had about ¥1,000 left. To put that into perspective a can of soda or tea typically costs ¥150. We had dollars, but when in Japan dollars are only good to purchase yen. So we needed to find an exchange place. And from what we read the best place to exchange money was a post office. And to our surprise there was one right outside the station.

Staircase at one of the subway stations.We walked into the post office and asked a man at the counter if they do currency exchanges. He confirmed that typically they do, but today being a holiday the bank portion of the post office was closed. We went back into the station which had a large underground mall inside and tried to find another currency exchange place. It was too early in the morning and all of them were closed. In addition to that at the information desk we were told that chances are that they are closed for the day because of the holiday.

We found an ATM machine and tried using our ATM card, but the machine told us that our bank declined the transaction. We found a couple more — some were in Japanese and we could not use, and the ones that were in English kept saying the same thing as the first one did. It was becoming obvious that we had no way to get money, the entrances to all the places that we wanted to visit are not free and that this “little” debacle might just ruin our day.

Golden Pavilion


Bus to Kinkakuji.We still decided to take our chances that we’ll have enough money and go to Kinkakuji — Golden Pavilion. We needed to go to the northern end of Karasuma subway line which goes right through Kyoto JR station and from there get on the right bus — no direct subway service, hence the need for bus pass. Luckily for us we had it all planned in advance and had detailed directions on how to get there.

On the bus.We went to Kitaoji Station (15 minute ride) and there we asked for direction on how to find the buses. Turned out that there was a bus terminal right at that station and each bus stop had a list of bus numbers and places that the bus stops at — this made things very easy. Soon after we were on a bus where we were pleasantly surprised to learn that each bus stop also has an English name on the sign. Plus it appeared that a most people were going to the same place as we were, so we had no problem getting off at the right stop.

Temple map.And from the stop we just followed all the people to the temple. Funnily enough a number of locals, when spotting us, were instantly pointing out the direction to go to for us even though we weren’t asking. Also there were maps on the way on which the temple was marked by a swastika symbol. In Japan swastika is an ancient sign of the sun and even though there is a lot of bad stigma associated with the symbol in the west it is still widely used in Japan.

Near the entrance to Kinkakuji.When we got to the entrance to the temple grounds we were relieved to find out that the entrance would cost us ¥400 per person or in other words pretty much as much money as we had in our pockets. Also upon getting inside we were surprised by how crowded the place was — tourists from Japan and all over the world. We were having a hard time getting to the fence to see the temple.

Crowd at Kinkakuji.Forget about taking a good photo. Matters were further complicated by all the dark clouds covering the sky which meant that in order for me to take a beautiful photograph I had to rest my camera on something for an HDR burst. However I was lucky enough to find a good place on the wooden fence and as a result I managed to capture the Golden Pavilion and an illusion of tranquility that this place would project if all the people would suddenly disappear.

Golden Pavilion — Kinkakuji.We started walking along the path that would take us through the territory and were soon stopped by a shy Japanese girl (15 years old maybe?) apologizing and asking if she could talk to us. We noticed her nervous classmates nearby and her teacher encouraging her to be brave. Turns out she had a school project where she needed to find foreign tourists and ask them (us) several questions in English.

Kinkakuji.She had a hard time writing down our names, but was happy to find out that we were from New York — a familiar word that she knew how to write. She asked us several more questions and asked to take a photograph with us. We should have asked the same in return, but it didn’t occur to us at the moment.

Here we are.She was very happy and quite relieved that she has completed her project. It seemed that she was the first and the bravest out of her class. I think in their culture it’s a hard barrier to cross — to “bother” somebody. But it was no bother for us and we were glad we could help.

Kinkakuji.After that we covered the whole path rather quickly and decided to leave the temple grounds. If the place would be serene and quite we would probably spend much more time here, but since it was so crowded we decided to get out of the mob of tourists and just walk around city street. Plus there was nothing else we could do since we had no money to get into the next place we wanted to visit anyhow.

Hotel


Russian cartoon character — Cheburashka — seem to have taken over Japan.We spent over an hour walking through the streets. On our way we discovered several small temples, a whole bunch of closed banks, a number of restaurants for which we had no money and even got rejected at a local McDonald’s — they do not take credit cards.

Hirano Shrine.We were getting somewhat tired and hungry, so we decided to get back on the bus and go to our hotel. Remembering how there should be Wi-Fi available I thought that maybe we’ll try to call our bank and ask them to unblock our debit card for us in Japan. The bus took us to the same subway station that we were at when we got here. There we took a train back to the center of the city — the central station called Karasuma Oike. Here we jumped onto another train line called Tozai and went one stop to the east. Our hotel was located two blocks away. Very convenient and right in the center of the city.

Typical Kyoto street. This one leads to our hotel.To get to our hotel we had to walk along a tiny street. There was enough space for a single car to fit and there was no sidewalk — we just had to walk along the road itself. Our hotel was easy to find and even though its entrance had a historically old look the building was quite modern. It was just decorated as an older structure. When inside we were greeted by friendly staff, but we were told that they can keep our bags (we had none), yet check in only happens later in the day — it was still too early.

We asked them about currency exchanges and they gave us map which was listing all the banks in the area, but as with other ones — they were all closed. I got on their Wi-Fi network and tried to dial 1-800 number on the back of my debit card via Skype. That didn’t work. So I called my sister, explained the situation, gave them all my information and asked her fiance to call the bank and to pretend to be me. They were keeping him on hold for a long time and we decided not to wait for it to work out and just went out to explore the area.

Street mall.On the map here we saw a long long street that was covered with a roof and littered with all kinds of shops, restaurants and temples. These malls seems to be a popular type of thing in Japan as we saw these kinds of places in several other cities. We walked there, but our mood was pretty sour by now. We wanted to drink, but couldn’t buy anything, we want to eat, but all the places only took cash and no credit cards. After walking through this mall for some time we were starting to feel down right depressed.

Then we saw a 7-11 with an ATM inside. We decided to try our luck again and see what happens. We were hoping that maybe Lenny was successful by now and managed to get our card unlocked. I inserted my card, entered my pin and requested a withdrawal of ¥10,000. The machine started thinking, dialing and then we heard a magical whirling sound lighting up a feeling of hope in us and then it spit out the money! We were ecstatic. Never before we loved 7-11 as we did at that moment.

Entrance to our ryokan.We took our new found fortune and proceeded to buy some food. Alena got herself some red bean ice-cream which she keeps cursing to this day and I got myself some cross of a bun with meat and a wanton. It was the most delicious wanton-bun thing I ever ate. We got ourselves some juice and tea and were on our way back to the subway station to proceed with our plan. Lenny has saved our day and our anniversary.

Nijo Castle


Gates to the castle. Palace is inside.Nijo Castle was located only 2 subway stops away from ours. It was the first thing that we put on our list of things to see when we were planning our trip since it was so close to our hotel. The hunger was gone, we were “rich” and an ancient castle was awaiting us. We were in a great mood.

Nijo Castle.Nijo Castle itself was built somewhere in early 1600s and is currently designated a UNESCO world heritage site. The castle has several high walls surrounded by moats, multiple ponds and gardens and a large palace which served as the residence and office of the shogun. And visitors were allowed inside the palace.

On one of the guard towers.We were asked to give up our shoes at the entrance and were welcomed inside. There was no photography allowed in there, but it was a very interesting self-guided tour. First thing that we noticed was the sound that the floors make — nightingale floors. When people walk on them they make a high pitched melodic squeaking sound. If we didn’t read about this before we would think that the floors were simply old, but in reality they were specifically designed this way so nobody would be able to approach the shogun without being noticed.

View from the tower.Inside there was a large number of different rooms and each one had its purpose. They had mannequins dressed in kimonos in most of them displaying what normally would be happening — a dinner, a meeting and so on. Shogun was always protected by body guards that were hidden from view behind different kinds of doors and closets. The place was quite huge inside. It took us at least 20 minutes to walk through it.

One of the paths inside the castle grounds.Afterwards we walked around the territory of the castle looking at the gardens, ancient buildings and taking photographs. It was all so interesting and unusual. So many great moments and memories — I can’t say this enough.

Ryokan


The sun was starting to set, we were tired and we were getting ready for our special anniversary dinner — we had to get back to hotel by 7pm — the dinner takes a very long time to prepare and has to be served at a precise time. We got back to subway and soon after we were at our hotel. We were warmly greeted, they showed us around, made some green tea for us and we had our dinner.

Our room at Nishiyama Ryokan.For dinner there were only 2 of us there, we tried a lot of different and unknown things for us, drank some sake and had a great time. The room was very cozy, the breakfast in the morning was equally great and a tea ceremony that they performed for us was very special too. Alena claims that it was the best tea she has ever had a chance to drink, although I myself didn’t like the taste — it was too bitter for me.

I’m running through this part because I’ve already written about the hotel and our dinner in much more detail earlier. I’m really glad that we decided to spend some extra money and book a room here. Maybe it’s not a 100% authentic ancient place, but it was a perfect place for beginners like us.

Tea ceremony.It’s a great tradition that we have — to do something special on each one of our anniversaries and this day is definitely one of the most memorable and unusual days to date.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Годовщина — Вдогонку

WineХочу добавить пару слов вдогонку по поводу нашего маленького праздника. Идея романтического ужина с вином и свечами (вернее свечкой) ) оказалась весьма удачной. Даня купил вино — Beaujolais Nouveau, которое порекомендовал нам д. Боря, и еду в Сахаре, а я скромно декорировала столик используя подручные материалы. )

Daniel & AlenaПосидели мы очень хорошо — было так уютно рядом с любимым человеком. Мы даже потанцевали немного под какое-то танго… Ароша мирно спал — нам помогла его уложить Данина мама.

Romantic EveningВобщем, вечер лично мне запомнится. Желаю нам еще много-много лет счастья вместе!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

4th Anniversary

Our guests.Today is the 4th anniversary of our marriage. I think in the past week or so we have passed another milestone in our lives — we’ve know each other for close to 8 years now and we’ve been married for the longer part of those years than non-married. And yet when we got married we thought we knew each other for eternity. Continue Reading
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Friday, December 5, 2008

Carlsbad Caverns

One of the caves in Carlsbad Caverns.Our second day started out very early. After eating the breakfast at our hotel and driving through the downtown we left El Paso and set out to the east, towards the Carlsbad Caverns National Park through Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. These were our two main objectives for the day.

Papa and mama along the route 180 in Texas.As soon as we left the city we were greeted by an always familiar yet different southwestern landscape that I’ve come to love so much over the past years. Huge flats, tall distant mountains, what might seem to be scarce vegetation of unusual to us composition — cacti and yuccas, and the never ending road. Road that I might say is always great no matter how distant of a place it runs through.

Alena and I on salt flats in Texas along route 180.Our first find was a big white field that was absolutely flat. Finally, the salt flats that I’ve heard so much about. I guess the water evaporated not so long ago, or it was raining recently. The salt was not rock hard, but soft and slightly soggy. I imagine during the summer it feels more like concrete.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park.In Gaudalupe Mountains NP we got a whole bunch of new stamps for our passports (4 official and one bonus). The park consists completely of hiking trails. We took a rather short one going through different plants with plaques attached to most of them. But we didn’t spend much time here as we didn’t want to be late to our next park.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park.We got to Carlsbad Caverns NP at about 1:30pm. The natural entrance to the caverns closes at 2pm and the elevator down closes at 3:30. After talking to the park rangers we decided that we’ll take the elevator right away, since the natural entrance adds an hour to the hike and you don’t really get to the interesting part until you reach the point where elevator would put us anyhow.

One of the caves in Carlsbad Caverns. Look at the guardrails around the trail to get a sense of scale.The elevator took us 750 feet down (that’s more than half of Empire State Building). I’ve never been in any cave or cavern before so for me this was a new experience. First of all the whole thing is HUGE. The farther we went the more space opened up. There were bleak lights installed behind some rocks, but you had to watch carefully where you were going because it was still pretty dark.

Hall of Giants. Carlsbad Caverns.The formations of different stalactites, stalagmites, columns and other things I do not know the names for were magnificent. Underground lakes and springs, the constant sound of water drops. My dad was the “luckiest” of us all with respect to water drops landing on his head. At one point he started worrying about growing a stalagmite. )

Carlsbad Caverns.I managed to take a good number of pictures and most of them came out well thanks to my micro-tripod and a remote control combo. The only thing that is hard to capture is the size of the whole thing. On some photos you will notice the trail itself with guardrails around it. Those were from 1 to 1.5 meters in height and should give you some sense of scale.

Alena with a nice prickly pear cactus in Carlsbad Caverns NP.After that we drove through a tiny town of Carlsbad itself to our final destination of the day — another tiny town in New Mexico — Artesia. We ended up having our 2nd anniversary dinner right in the hotel Chinese Buffet. But it’s not the food that matters, but the company, and the day itself was great.
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Годовщина

Wedding Anniversary Отмечать годовщину свадьбы мы пошли в тот же ресторан, в котором состоялся свадебный ужин — Luxor Stakehouse. Всё же стейки там ну просто обалденные (даже я, не большой любитель мяса, это признаю). Мы с Данькой заказали шампанское, обменялись нашими новыми кольцами.

Дело в том, что Даньку осенила идея купить что-то памятное на годовщину. Ну, почему бы и не кольца? Мы остановились на 2х одинаковых, относительно недорогих, титановых, с золотой полосочкой. Хотели что-то на них выгравировать, но не нашли где. Данька будет его кольцо носить на смену — обручальное платиновое очень тяжелое, а титан суперлёгкий. А я своё ношу на правой руке — теперь и по американским, и по русским стандартам обручальное кольцо одето на правильном пальце. Continue Reading
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Monday, August 20, 2007

30 Years Together

Papa i MamaToday my parents celebrate their 30th anniversary together. I wanted to wish them 30 years more and to thank them for our (mine and my sister’s) great lives that we owe completely to them. To think, 30 years! It’s longer them my whole life (for obvious reasons too). )

Papa i MamaI only wish to be able to do what they have done, and I think I’m on the right way! teeth And the hardest part will be raising such a great pair of children. )

Thank you for being the best parents anybody could hope for! All of us love you very much and wish you long long lives together.

P.S. Vika gave my mom a great present for her birthday – a romantic dinner aboard a ship on the Hudson river for two. I just spoke with my dad and they sound like they really did love it. ) Great thinking, Vika.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Anniversary in Las Vegas

Las Vegas - Night ShotSeveral days ago we booked a trip to Las Vegas, yet again. We timed it so we’re going to end up there during the 1st anniversary of our wedding.

For the moment it’s going to be Alena and I and Eldar. If anybody else wants to join us for this vacation we’d be glad to hang out with you! That’s why I’m posting our exact booking information below.

We’re staying in Luxor (which by the way costs us $565 for 6 nights with all taxes and fees included). We’re flying out from Newark airport on Continental. The flight to Vegas leaves at 8:50am and arrives at 11:53am on Sunday, November 18th. The flight back leaves at 2:30pm and is on Saturday, November 24th. And our anniversary falls on Friday, November 23rd.

Come on and join us now!
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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Чудо

ЧудоА вчера у нас было 4 с половиной года с нашего первого свидания! С одной стороны время летит с огромной скоростью, с другой – уже столько всего произошло.

6 декабря 2002ого года Алёна была мне совсем не известным, чужим человеком, а сейчас такое родное, любимое чудо, которое, как кажется, я уже знаю вечность.

Эх, жизнь хороша, и жить хорошо, особенно когда рядом есть такой человек, который является частью тебя, как моя Алёнушка! Чего и вам желаем! -)

P.S. Wanted to post this yesterday, but was too tired, so I went to sleep instead. teeth
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

1/2 Умножить на Год

After the WeddingСегодня у нас почти годовщина свадьбы. Ну, вернее Сегодня = 1/2 * Годовщина. )

Уже сто раз говорила, как быстро летит время. Повторюсь… Летит, только пятки сверкают, да хвост по ветру развивается! Почему-то время мне представилось эдаким озорным чертёнком, который с воплем “А попробуй-ка догони!” несётся вперед и только иногда оглядывается, чтобы показать нам красный высунутый язык.

Так о чём это я? О свадьбе. Вернее, о Семье. Нашей. Как же хорошо быть заМужем!
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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our Wedding Ceremony

We decided to try to load the video into Youtube and post it on our blog for those who wasn’t able to make it to our wedding. Youtube rejected it because it was “too long”, but I was able to upload it to Google without any problems. Of course the quality went down, because I tried to compress it as much as possible, but it’s better then nothing. ) My favorite part is the way Alena was crying throughout the whole thing. teeth

Update: Trying to upload it to MSN made the quality much better then that of a Google. Who would’ve thought? )
Update 2: MSN is no more. Uploaded the video to Vimeo.
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

In NY Daily News

NY Daily NewsInteresting thing happened. If you saw some time ago, a journalist from New York Daily News left a comment on our blog about doing a small story on our wedding. Well, we contacted her, she set up an interview. We told her our story, and today it was published in a Sunday issue of Daily News. teeth

Down the Isle
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Monday, January 8, 2007

И Снова о Свадьбах

Marinka's WeddingНаверное, возраст такой… Выходят замуж подружки… Кто-то раньше, как Олик Вашкевич, кто-то позже, как я и Кузя. Сегодня Олик прислала мне фотки с Марининой свадьбы, которая состоялась, если я не ошибаюсь, в субботу, 6 января. Как-то заскучала прям по ним по всем. Вспомнились университетские наши времена – походы в кино, посиделки и разговоры, разговоры, разговоры…
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Our Wedding: Daniel’s Version

Husband and WifeI saw that Alёna posted her version of our wedding day, and before reading it I decided to post mine as well. I didn’t read hers at all yet, so I’ll probably be repeating the same things, but I guess that’s the point. )

To begin I’ll just say that the day was just perfect. We’ve been waiting until we could even start planning it for years, we were planning it for over 3 months, and I was very nervous about everything. I’m really happy that it worked out great. If I could change anything it would be the fact that I was in such a hurry in the morning that I slipped in the shower and barely survived. The bruises that you see on some of the pictures are from cracking my head on the wall and the floor. o.O Other then that the day couldn’t possibly have been better.

Eldar and ILet’s start from the early morning. I woke up at around 9am and couldn’t sleep any longer. You should know that that is exceptionally early for me, as I can easily go on until at least 2pm. Alёna was already up by that time and was getting ready to go into the hair salon. We packed the dress, met up with Eldar and Vika and took a cab to MGM. Walked Alёna and Vika to the salon and dropped off a dress in the chapel. Then me and Eldar met up with Lenchik who just got to Vegas, ate some breakfast and went up to our rooms to get ready.

I was running around my room like crazy trying not to forget anything. First order of business – a shower and a shave. Jump into the shower, slip, fall, hurt myself badly – no blood – check. Shave – check. Shirt, pants – check. Tie – check. Suit jacket – check. Rings and the marriage license – check. What time is it? 12:45!! I should be there first, I’m going to be there last.

Met up with my family and Eldar’s family, grabbed 2 cabs, went to MGM. Got to the chapel on time, feeling a bit nervous. They put me, Eldar and my dad into groom’s waiting room. Our minister came in to talk to us. He turned out to be a very cool, funny guy. After a bit of waiting we were called into the main room by the minister. My dad went out the other way to walk Alёna in.

Here Comes The BrideMe and Eldar got into the room and stood up next to the minister in the front. The music started playing. The door opened. My heart was racing. First Vika walked into the room, and the door closed. Then the door opened again and I saw my dad and Alёna walking in. My heart stopped and I felt my eyes started to tear up. I was very close to totally losing it. I noticed that Alёna was totally crying at this point already and it made it even harder not to start crying myself, but I managed to control myself. )

The RingsI couldn’t believe this moment was here and she looked so beautiful and we were minutes away from becoming husband and wife. I shook my dad’s hand, took Alёna’s hand and we walked up to the minister. He said a lot of great, wise things, then gave us the rings. Soon after we were married and were giving each other our first “married” kiss. We turned around and the minister in a loud voice said the following: “Now, for the first time, let’s announce them as Mr. and Mrs. Daniel and Alёna RuЬin!” mrgreen Later on I noticed that not only Alёna was crying, but also my mom, my sister, Eldar’s mom and Eldar’s sister as well. ) Oh, the happy tears. )

All Our GuestsAfter that we had a small photo shoot done by a professional photographer. We walked out of the chapel, met up with our guests and went to the closest food court to drink some champagne to celebrate.

Wedding LimoThen we had a small Vegas tour in a limo and then we met up with all the guests again near The Venetian. From there were started to walk back to Luxor and kept taking pictures. We probably got at least a 100 congratulations and smiles and cheers. A lot of people kept taking pictures of us. And I’ve got to tell you, the bride was impossible to walk by without noticing! mrgreen

Wedding DinnerBy the time we got back to Luxor it was already 6pm and it was time for our dinner. The restaurant and the staff turned out to be great. I was worried that we only had 2.5 hours, but we ended up spending over 3.5 hours in there and nobody said anything to us. They made our day even greater. A lot of great toasts were said and the atmosphere was awesome. Only 17 people of whom everyone was either a close friend or a family member. The food and the cake were great as well.

Closer to the end one of the bus-boys dropped a huge pile of plates on the floor smashing all of them. At first he looked shocked. Then when all the guests realized what has happened, they started cheering, yelling and applauding. The bus-boy looked even more shocked at that point. What he didn’t know was the fact that it’s considered a good luck in Russia for something like this to happen. teeth Some staff including the manager ran in to see what happened, and were quite puzzled too. The next day, the manager told me that instead of punishing the bus-boy, everyone was making fun and teasing him now. )

Well, there is so much more to be said, but I guess nobody is going to read so much, so I’m going to stop. I’m just extremely happy and grateful to our guests to making this day as awesome as it was!
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Our Wedding: Alena’s Version

Us and Our RingsAt last we are officially married!!I enjoyed our wedding so much! It was just a perfect one – even better then I imagined.

Vika and AlenaI woke up at 5 a.m. in the morning and was tossing and turning in the huge king size bed till 8 a.m. – time, when I planned to get up and to start getting ready. Danya and Eldar escorted me and Vicky to the beauty salon. They also dropped my dress at the wedding chapel. In the salon a nice Russian lady Svetlana arranged my hair and some other girl took care of my face. Vicky and I had a nice chat, which helped me to relax. After that we went to a bride’s room in the chapel where Vicky and Danya’s mom helped me to get dressed for the occasion. )

Papa, Mama and UsOksana was so worried and was breathing in a special nervous way. She is a very sensitive, kind, thoughtful, loving, smart person. Boris is one of the most interesting and open-minded people I’ve ever met in my life. Ha!! I have the best parents-in-law!!

MinisterDanya’s dad walked me down the chapel to soon-to-be husband. When the door opened and I heard “Here comes the bride”, I was so overwhelmed with emotions, that I could hardly hold myself from tears. The minister was great – he seemed sincere and said a lot of good words. We’ve got a DVD of the ceremony and to tell you the truth I was crying both times I watched it. )

Welcome to Las VegasAfter the ceremony a professional photographer took some pictures and we left the chapel. All of us then drank some champagne in a local food court and around 3 p.m. a black limo picked up Danya, me and 4 other guests for a 1 hour tour around the city. Eldar, Lina, Vicky and Sergey went with us. We took some pictures by the Las Vegas sign and by the oldest chapel in the city. Then we met the rest of our guests by the Venetian hotel and casino, took some more pictures and just decided to walk to the Luxor, where the reception dinner was booked for 6 p.m.

Near Caesar's PalaceI felt so beautiful! People were looking at us, smiling, some were even taking pictures. Many congratulated us and wished us good luck. ) We got very lucky with the weather. Through our stay in Vegas it was beautiful and sunny and warm.

Cutting The CakeI am very happy with the Luxor stake house. The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the private room rocked!! We overstayed our time limit by 1 hour and nobody said a single word to us. One more funny thing is that at the end of the dinner a bus boy dropped some teacups and saucers and broke a couple of them. Everybody in the room got really excited and started cheering and clapping. The bus boy got scared, as well as our waiters and a manager, who harried into the room to find out what happened. They were laughing so hard, when we explained to them that Russia is one of those countries, where broken dishes considered a good luck.

We had a total of 15 guests. I was happy to see every single one of them, and celebrating our wedding with them felt like a warm family event. A lot of kind words were said, and I really appreciate the gesture of coming to Vegas to share our happiness.

The rest of the mini-vacation was wonderful and we didn’t want it to end. Now I’m sitting in the living room and reflecting on our wedding day, my beloved husband is still sleeping, the bags are waiting to be unpacked, the pictures are almost ready to be uploaded, the day is fantastic and the life goes on.
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

To Vegas

LuxorThe trip that we’ve been waiting for, for such a long time, has finally started! Yesterday we’ve arrived to Las Vegas and tomorrow we’re getting married!

Yesterday and most of today flew by very quickly. We got to our hotel at about 2pm Vegas time. When we were checking in I mentioned that it was our wedding and that it’d be great if they could upgrade our room and give us a highest possible floor, to the receptionist. She didn’t say a single word to me, gave us 2 sets of keys (for us and for my parents) and said that these are nice rooms. When we got up we saw that my parents were on the opposite side of the hall way from us, and our room had a really awesome view of the F*CKING roof!!! evil

I got really mad by such service, went downstairs again, and wouldn’t leave until they let me talk to a manager. I explained to the manager that I picked this hotel out of all the hotels in the world as the place where I would like to get married. I have a lot of guests staying here as well and our ceremony is going to be performed in a sister hotel owner by the same company.

Luxor SuiteTo make long story short, he changed our rooms, gave Alena and me a very nice and big suite with windows overlooking the Strip, and gave my parents a room across the hall from us, on the same, 8th floor. Nice to know that people do care about the reputation of the business after all.

After that we met up with Eldar and went directly to the Marriage License Bureau. The whole procedure of obtaining a license took at most 10 minutes. No hassles, no problems.

Later on we met up with Maruks, and hang out with everyone for the rest of the day at Fusia restaurant and at rumJungle bar/lounge.

Luxor PoolsToday we did some pool swimming in the morning, checked out the chapel, meet with our wedding coordinator, checked out the hair salon that Alena is going to go tomorrow and gambled for a short while. I lost about $40 on the craps table and Alena put $1 into a $1 slot machine and won $50 back on that same spin. teeth Also we ate our lunch at Wolfgang Puck restaurant which was pretty nice.

For the rest of the day we’re planning to go to some club and drink alcohol (what else?). We do not want to stay out for too long as tomorrow is the big day!
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