I had a fantastic time in Sicily back in July as the One Man Ceilidh Band for a Scottish/Sicilian wedding. Sicily really impressed me. The people are really nice and the food is fantastic. I never once had a bad wine! The white in particular is fantastic.
Landing in Palermo for a few nights then to Trapani for the wedding. The traffic in Palermo is amazing. If you can drive there (and survive), you can drive anywhere!
Trapani is much quieter than Palermo and has a busy fishing port. Beautiful yellow sandstone buildings surrounded by stunning landscapes and blue sea. If you've ever seen 'Inspector Monatalbano' on the TV, you'll know what I mean.
I can't wait to go back.
The wedding in Trapani was a sight to be seen. The hotel had a swimming pool that was also used as a harbour for small boats. The wedding reception and meal was held in the evening at the hotel, round this 'harbour'. The meal ran late which was expected. I lost count on how many courses there were. I think we ate for 5 hours. Pastas, fish, seafood, caponata, all delicious. I wasn't able to indulge in the wine because I had to play after. I was expected to start around 10.30pm but it was 2.45am before we got started. The calling was interesting with a few overly lubricated Scottish people assuring me they were experts in ceilidh dancing only happy to offer their assistance over the microphone while I was already speaking. It was very funny! I'm sure there were more than a few sore heids the next day.
Made good friends with the piper and the DJ. The piper was from Palermo and loved the sound of the Scottish bagpipes so much he decided to take them up after hearing them on Italian radio. He was very good. Gianluigi Fanzone is his name in case you need a piper in Sicily. firstname.lastname@example.org
DJ Enzo Monreale kept everyone entertained till about 8am after the ceilidh. He is a natural DJ with a feel and passion for what he does. I'd highly recommend his services in Sicily. A true professional and a real gentleman.
After the wedding we traveled around a little in the area, Erice, Marsala Salt flats and went sea angling and had a trip to the Egadi Islands and Favignana. Stunning. We caught lots of small fish and went to head out for some Tuna or some big game fish. I did see a sword fish jump in the water not far from the boat but we had little luck. I did get something big at one point but it broke the line and got away. I'll have to get him next time.
It was difficult to find a charter for fishing in Sicily. I wanted to catch a big Swordfish or a Tuna or perhaps a Grouper. None of the tourist offices seemed to know that anyone did it, everything was geared up for dolphin spotting or island tours. This will save you the trouble of looking in case you pick this up on Google. This is Andrea's website....
This beach is down the end of a road to the North of Trapani. You need to walk a few K's to get there. It's well worth it though. It's part of a nature reserve next to an old Tonnara (Tuna) factory.
I am looking forward to going back.
We had a fantastic time in Germany. We went by airplane from Aberdeen via Amsterdam to Berlin and so managed a stay in Berlin on our way to Dresden. By the time we reached Berlin we were all pretty tired after having been up late the previous night (working) and being up early in the morning to get to the airport, packed, organised and ready for the journey we were pretty destroyed.
We were a three piece band for the gig, myself on the accordion, Tom on the banjo and as ever Fred on the bouzouki. We had a half hour to kill in Schiphol airport on the way there so managed a quick pint of Heineken and a sandwich while we watched anxiously from the terminal as they loaded the airplane with the Banjo and our cases. Luckily I had the accordion as hand baggage. It never travels well when it comes to baggage handlers. Luckily we all reached Berlin safely with our instruments intact.
After checking into the hotel in Berlin we followed the river Spree and took it's name to be a sign. After an hour of walking we stopped in the Hackescher Markt and had a fantastic well priced feed in the 'Restauration'. Naturally we took pictures of our food and shared it with the world on Facebook. As you do.
We then went on a walk to the the Brandenburg gate but we had headed off in the wrong direction. (faulty GPS Herr Wilkinson) and ended up in the wrong side of town. So we stopped in for a quick refreshment at a German Pub. We remained there for the rest of the evening and never made the Gate. We had a great time though and made some new friends.
We made the train on time next morning and got to Dresden in the afternoon. It is a very special place. We had no idea it was such a beautiful city. The centre is pedestrianised and so there is not much traffic to worry about. The architecture is stunning. Most of which was destroyed in world war 2 by the controversial bombing by the allies. Only in recent years did they have the money to rebuild many of the iconic Dresden buildings which have been restored almost exactly to the finest detail. There is a quiet pride in the people of Dresden who are very friendly, have amazing food and a smile for every foreigner. The city had recently been badly effected by the floods only the week before we arrived but already it had been quickly and efficiently cleaned up and there was little sign of any damage other than the debris on the river banks. Which we observed on an afternoon cruise down the Elbe whilst enjoying Weiss Beer, Pickled herrings in apple coleslaw and potato salad. Delicious.
Curiously the boat was named Dampfart. Or something like that but I honestly had no problems after eating.
We played at Janet and Lucas's wedding on the Saturday night in a University building. It was a very special occasion. We had a small problem with the language barrier as many Dresden people don't speak English as they do in the western part of Germany due to it's history. But we overcame this pretty quickly and had them jigging' away pretty soon despite being full of food and sweating with the heat. It was very warm. Luckily there was a free bar! We were very kindly treated and were fed and watered all through the night. We even joined them on the dance floor for the 80's disco on the dance floor later on. Thanks Janet, Lucas and all.
If you ever get a chance to go to Germany I would highly recommend Dresden. It's a really special place that I will never forget. One day I hope to go back there again and just do nothing except wander around aimlessly in and out of the various eateries and bars, soaking up the environment. Listening to the wonderful music played by the many talented buskers playing a very high standard of musicianship. From the virtuoso old lady on the Bayan and the Schone Grube aus St.Petersburg, a brass quartet that played beautifully and really moved me. Let us never forget the solo violin lady with the hat in the white see through dress. Aye Dresden has it all.
Today I'm running around like a madman. Suffering from hay fever in this hot but grey sticky day and trying to pack. We're all excited to be going to Germany tomorrow morning to play for Janet's wedding. We'll fly to Berlin and have a night there, then on Saturday we travel to Dresden to play at the wedding which we are very much looking forward to. We are to give the Germans a taste of Scottish Culture. I hope the recent flooding hasn't caused too much damage. Fred's Splashing White Sergeant might be our first dance. Maybe we can find a session in Berlin tomorrow night, anyone know of any? If not I'm sure we are in for a good time anyhow. Can't wait for some good German food and a massive glass of German beer. (I'll be bringing my bib and a spare pair of trousers Tom) Think I'll take a Kilt as well.
We had some great photos recently from gifted wedding photographer Janie Barclay. ( see her site www.janiebarclay.com ) They were just taken at weddings where we both working. I've put some up on our gallery page and will use them on the website and other projects.
It's been a busy week. We've had a lot of enquiries and have taken 6 more confirmed wedding bookings with some more in the pipeline. Last weekend saw us at Balmoral Castle again. For Gillian and Gary's wedding. What an evening it was. Good crack and it was nice to see so many kent faces fae Ballater. (Fit like Lisa!) It was a bit difficult to drag some folk away from the bar to begin with but in the end we couldn't get them to stop dancing. We had to knock back the request for the third encore after 1am because we thought Lizzie might come knocking.
We made it home safely at around 3am and headed off for a well earned sleep. I managed till about 7am when the kids got up.
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