The Blog

You may have read last month, my Blog post about travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg over Christmas and the New Year with my family. Well the second leg of the trip, was in Uzbekistan, and it was magical!

Travel Diaries: Travel to Uzbekistan

To be honest with you, it was my Dad that had always dreamt of going to Uzbekistan, along the Silk Road to Bukhara and Samarkand. I had barely heard of these places until he mentioned that we were going there (I know, shame on me…). So, as a good little Globetrotter, I started reading up about this country that is lodged in the middle of Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East. By the time we arrived to Bukhara from St Petersburg, I was overly excited to discover this country that I had barely studied at school and that was such a melting pot of cultures.

Travel Diaries: Travel to Uzbekistan

Like many of you, I wasn’t sure what to expect in a –stan country, and I can assure you that I was so impressed by the open-mindedness, the kindness and generosity of the Uzbeks, that I now can’t wait to go back there and discover all the other countries in that area! Anyway, before I can visit all of those countries, let’s get back to Uzbekistan itself.

Travel Diaries: Travel to Uzbekistan

We arrived in Bukhara and started to explore this small city that was once the capital of one of the local tribes. A key stop for the Silk Road, the ancient architecture seemed to be frozen in time. Its massive turquoise domes towering over modern day life seemed to guard the locals and remind them constantly of the rich history of the city. Caravan courts (which are where the travelling caravans of camels charged with goods would stop to sell, exchange and rest) have been transformed into modern day mini shopping centres, still preserving their original look and feel. And the mosques are a testament to beauty, art and love of culture. Uzbeks are proud of their heritage and work daily to preserve it to share with future generations. This was also visible in the next city that we visited: Samarkand.

Travel Diaries: Travel to Uzbekistan

Samarkand was the capital of Timor the Great. He was, and to this day, still considered a unifying leader of the Uzbek people. Not only was he a skilled warrior but also a fair and just man. His capital, Samarkand was one of the most beautiful cities in the world in the 13th Century and he knew it! With some of the tallest buildings in the world for that time (mainly mosques), we were left flabbergasted by what we saw. The blue and turquoise domes were endless, the mosaic work was masterful and flawless. Oh, and the food! Kebabs, Samosas, Chiken Tikkah, all of these that you think are Indian or Turkish, well think again, they are all Uzbek originally! We were just as surprised as you to learn that a lot of cultural elements that we believed to stem from neighbouring countries are actually original to Uzbekistan. This is mainly because of the huge amount of travel that took place throughout Uzbekistan, making it and influencer for certain elements, just as much as an influencee.

Travel Diaries: Travel to Uzbekistan

Our time in Uzbekistan was short and sweet, 4 days spent wandering around some of the wonders of this world, but we all want to go back. It is an newly independent open-minded country where some socialist values still persist, mixed in with loving muslim ideas, and an incredible historical heritage. The country blends tradition and modernity in a way to protect what they have yet move forward not forgetting who they are. This is a country that took in orphans from eastern European countries in the thousands during WWII, and strives on diversity, and has done for centuries. I’m sure that we could learn a lesson or two from the Uzbeks.

You may have seen that one of my earlier posts was about my recent trip to Russia, where I was in St Petersburg and Moscow over the Christmas and New Year period. Inspired by the parties there, the love of drink and food, and the never-ending winter that we are going through in London, I thought that a Dasvidaniya Winter mood board would be perfect!

Dasvidaniya Winter literally means goodbye winter! Because, as much as we love Winter to cosy up in front of the fire, I’ve had enough of having a constant sniffle, not knowing what to wear and not being able to walk around outside.

Our ancestors used to celebrate the ending of a solstice, and welcome the new one during festivals that would sometimes last for days on end, so I thought that to celebrate the official end of winter (March 21st) would be nice nod to our traditions long gone.

If you want to throw a Russian themed end of winter party or dinner, make sure that you bring together two crucial elements of a Russian evening: cosy warm ambiance (because it’s freezing there!) mixed in with the bright colours of their culture and art! Offer a mix of canapes and food, hot and cold, drawing inspiration directly from Russian cuisine. But also put a European twist on it: have some lovely cakes and cookies, and decorate them inspired by a Russian Winter, for example this naked tiered cake with an Orthodox church above it, covered in iced sugar, is magical!

Do not forget the drink – specifically the Vodka! This can either be served in gorgeous ornate bottles, magnums, or, a personal favourite of mine, mini individual sized bottles. These mini bottles served with a straw will warrant a lot more attention than their bigger, more normal, counterparts.

Basically, have fun, enjoy and celebrate that the days are getting longer and warmer!

Photo credits for mood board:
Pinterest
bezphoto.net
www.loveandoliveoil.com
www.themarionhousebook.com
camillestyles.com
www.landedhouses.co.uk
pictures-for-maria.mozello.co.uk
keltainentalorannalla.blogspot.co.uk
moodiereport.com
lemagnifiqueblog.com
blog.hwtm.com

It will soon be 11 years since I moved to London, and I can honestly say that this is my home.

La Fete Wedding Planner Blog Living in London

Although I was born and raised in picturesque Geneva in Switzerland, I always longed to live in a big bustling city. I moved here aged 18 ready to start university and must admit that I fondly look back at my first few months in London, between excitement of ultimate freedom and worries of being in a big city. I soon strived in London, discovering my English heritage (I am half British, half French), I adapted to the lifestyle and open-mindedness very quickly.

La Fete Wedding Planner Blog Living in London

Once I had finished my Bachelor, I moved briefly to Florence in Italy for my Masters, but soon after returned with professional prospects. Now, I was experiencing London as a young professional, aged 22, I had already lived, like many Londoners, in three different zones and four different flats. London seems to have that energy that constantly makes you move around the City until you find your neighbourhood that somehow pulled you in like a magnet, and then you end up from having steadily moved house every year, to staying put for 6 years (like I have now) or even forever.

La Fete Wedding Planner Blog Living in London

The neighbourhood that pulled me is Pimlico. If you know it, you probably already know why it’s so enchanting. If you don’t, make sure to take a stroll through its quiet residential streets in the spring. The Pimlico grid, as it is known amongst locals, is actually one of the smaller neighbourhoods of London. It’s Regency architecture and numerous garden squares were initially built as an extension of Belgravia, but Pimlico has quite a different feel. White Cubit houses line long straight streets that intersect each other, making the grid a maze with its notorious one-way system (no black Cab has ever confidently taken me home). The residents are what make this neighbourhood so unique, from young families to elderly couples with small dogs, Pimlico is the home to every culture and nationality under the sun, and that is what makes it so rich.

La Fete Wedding Planner Blog Living in London

For me, Pimlico reflects, at a much smaller scale what London is about; a home to anyone that wants to call it that. It is a place to put down your suitcase, your dreams, your ambitions and build a life, a home, a career. London is full of possibilities, and Londoners are some of the nicest, kindest and most attentive people I have ever met. With its architectural variety, London is a city made up of small villages and towns that have united as one. Each area cherishes its uniqueness but also values its variety.

La Fete Wedding Planner Blog Living in London

I am so proud to say that London is my home, and yes, I am a Londoner.

I recently got asked to give some advice in relation to this subject by Wedding Venues & Services Magazine, and thought that I wanted to share with all of you as well as this is a subject that affects a lot of my brides.

Let’s just start by saying, your wedding, your rules!

If this is what you want, then make it clear from the start and never make an exception. Exceptions can be made occasionally for flower girls or page boys, especially if they are your nephews or cousins. But if you just want them there for the ceremony and photos, it’s up to you to plan how to get them back home, or have a baby-sitter there in order to not disrupt their parents’ enjoyment of the day and evening.

In regards to small children that aren’t playing a role in your big day, just explain to any friends or family that may be trying to guilt you into making them the exception, that you want them to attend your day as carefree adults who can have a drink too many and dance the night away without worrying about their kids. A good idea is to offer a list of recommended babysitters for those who might have to travel with smaller kids to the event.

Always remember, that if you are imposing rules and that these may be tricky to abide by for some guests, offer a solution at the same time. That way you will be confronted with less resistance to the idea. If you present this well and early on, often your friends and family will be thrilled at the idea of having a night away, or even a weekend away, just as a couple!

So don’t be scared of standing up for your decision and make sure that you communicate it early on so that everyone can organise themselves accordingly.

On Christmas eve, my family and I (parents, sister and fiancé), all travelled from London to St Petersburg. We had been planning this trip for nearly a year and were so excited that it had finally come!

unspecified

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a snowy city, which truly seemed split between two eras: tall dark Soviet communal flat buildings and governmental buildings lined the large avenues from the airport into the city centre, and all of a sudden, after crossing a bridge the style all of sudden changed to brightly coloured Romanov-esque palaces with intricate details and never-ending facades. Between the snow, the cold and the Christmas decorations, I must admit that St Petrsburg was everything I had expected and more! A magical ambiance that transported you back to films was present in every street, church and palace. The harmony with which the Romanov and Soviet heritages had blended surprised but also enchanted me.

unspecified-3

As good tourists, we visited all the key spots: Catherine’s Palace, The Ermitage Museum, The Church on Spilled Blood (literally built on top of the spilt blood of one of the Tsars), the art galleries, so many churches, and of course the food and drink! Russian food is AMAZING! If you haven’t yet discovered it, find out quick where your nearest Russian Delicatessen is and order Pelmeni! A sort of mix between dumpling and ravioli, it’s filled with any sort of meat that you want and is insanely delicious! St Petersburg is steeped in history, throughout the city everything reminds you of a time long gone, even the frozen over river reminds you of this.

unspecified-2

After 4 days in St Petersburg, we left by high speed train to Moscow. A swift train ride through the Russian countryside, and we arrived in the capital. First impressions of Moscow: they have massive traffic jam problems! Moscow is very different to St Petersburg, a modern metropole, the buildings are huge and are either Soviet or ultra-modern. The Kremlin is more than just a simple building, it is the true heart of the city, a city within a city, it is magical and charged in grandeur thanks to the several museums and buildings that it houses, of which the diamond vaults, the armoury, the several cathedrals and churches and the beautiful views it has of the river.

unspecified-7

We also visited several art galleries, more churches of which St Basil (which is surprisingly small compared to what I had always imagined), did a fair bit of shopping (Russia is cheaper than London, but not by far), and were fortunate enough to go to the Moscow Circus and the Bolchoi to see the Nutcracker on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is a massive deal in Russia, due to not being able to practice religions under the Soviet regime; they turned this end of year festivity into the biggest of the country. And I must say, they know how to do Christmas decorations better than I have ever seen! Russian patterns light up the main squares, whilst all trees are dripping in multi-coloured lights, with small presents hanging from them; a Christmas fanatic’s dream!

unspecified-4

All in all, I would definitely recommend going to St Petersburg and Moscow, even in winter. And even though it’s colder (take thermals, a Canada goose, and don’t hesitate to buy a Shapka) its magical and resonates with the Russia from our imagination.

As the weather starts to freeze around us, I thought it would be appropriate to use the current mood to create a Winter Wonderland Party mood board.

Winter Wonderland Party - London Party Planner 001

Winter Wonderland Party | London Party Planner | La Fete

You don’t need to wait for it to get cold outside to throw a party with this theme. It can be just as effective at another time of the year, as it can have the ability to transport guests to another world, which is a part of event planning anyway. However, creating this atmosphere in a winter month means that your guests get to enjoy the positive aspects of winter, instead of just having to put up with the slush, rain and cold wind.

Winter Wonderland Party | London Party Planner | La Fete

So, if you are thinking of throwing a Winter Wonderland Party, the first thing you’ll need to do is decide what your vision of Winter is: Is it Scandi? Christmassy? Arctic? Or sparkly? I’ve gone for the Scandi chalet sort of inspiration for this one. Wanting to create a sort of apres-ski atmosphere where guests can eat, drink, chat and of course, dance away in front of a lovely warm fire! Always think of the details that create the main picture, as these are the elements that your guests will pick up on. These are the details that will transport your guests away from their everyday lives into a unique moment. Some of these details can be as simple as the lighting, the music and the smell.

Winter Wonderland Party | London Party Planner | La Fete

Winter Wonderland Party | London Party Planner | La Fete

Here’s my mood board for a Winter Wonderland Party. Enjoy it!

Winter Wonderland Party | London Party Planner | La Fete

Image Credits:
Original Travel // London Bride // This Is Glamorous // Anthropologie // Ome Piet // Sculptivate // Vibeke Design // Liz Marie Blog // You Mean The World To Me