When my friend Fahd called me to invite me to his wedding in Lahore I didn’t think about it twice. What an amazing opportunity to discover the culture and country of Pakistan. Against all travel advise of the foreign affairs departments from all countries ‘travel only in case of extreme need’, I talked to my brave (or crazy) enough friend Gloria to accompany me on this adventure and booked the trip. I coudn’t be happier about my choice. What I am going to show you is the most genuine trip I ever did in my life.
HOW TO GET HERE:
First of all, you will need a visa to enter the country (or to even board the plane), to get it you will need to go to your country’s embassy or consulate with an invitation letter from the person and the reason why you are invited to Pakistan, together with an up-to-date passport, and the vaccination requirements. This is important, you will need to go to an international vaccination center to get injections for tiphus and hepatitis 1 month prior to going there.
Flying to Lahore is actually quite easy and luxurious thanks to Emirates, I took a flight to Dubai and stayed some days there (I love Dubai so much I can’t just transit) and from there you take another Emirates flight for 3 h and land in Lahore. As the only two European girls in the flight, even the crew was surprised we were flying here, as they are not allowed to leave the plane when they land for security reasons, imagine!
WHERE TO STAY:
We need to understand this is not your average holiday destination. You need to move around with the locals and follow their advice. Our host Fahd put all of us international wedding guests at Pearl Continental hotel, one of the most luxurious in Lahore. At the beginning I was a bit shocked seeing the armed guards but you get used to it, actually makes you feel very protected. I found it quite funny to have an anti terrorist squad walking around the hotel. Only in movies you would say, but here all hotels have barriers with security and controls just like an airport.
WHAT TO DO:
We came for the wedding; I have to say this was the most wonderful magical wedding I have ever attended. Nothing can compare to a wedding in Pakistan. Four days of festivities, with every day with a bigger party, with more people (2000 guests), more flowers, a more beautiful location, more food, more fireworks and the most amazing dresses. As part of the wedding entertainment, there are lots of dancing shows that the guests offer as a gift to the bride and groom. The international friends, we also had to make a dance and our song was ‘welcome to Saint Tropez’ for all the summers we spent here together, we had one choreographer to coordinate the moves! I think we did quite well 😉
The Pakistani wedding outfits are on another level; they do not wear white, they wear colourful dresses with top fabrics, gorgeous textures and design, super beautiful. Also, you know all the jewelry you see exposed on the windows of the most exclusive shops in Geneva and wonder who wears this? Well, Pakistani women do! These weddings are a precious stone paradise. Really just like a Bollywood movie, a real prince and princess fairytale. If you ever get the chance to attend one of this weddings you MUST go! I am going to be forever thankful for this experience to my friends Fahd and Meezan <3 Everyone in Pakistan is so welcoming, they invited us to their homes and made us feel that no matter where we came from we always belonged with them, as if we were one more.
WHAT TO SHOP:
This is heaven for pashminas and the top quality wool, and almost impossible to find in the rest of the world shahtoosh shawls. You can mostly pay in dollars and the easiest way to buy them is by getting in contact with the local shawl sellers who will come directly to your hotel.
To get Pakistani dresses go to Khaadi (the Pakistani Dolce and Gabbana) super beautiful and you can later use back at home as beachwear. Remember ladies you need to dress a bit covered here, no need to cover the hair (only in public places such as Lahore Fort) but have common sense,do not wear cleavage, miniskirts etc.
WHAT TO EAT:
On my first night on arrival directly from the airport, my friends picked us up and we drove to the center of the city to a little empty street. Out of nowhere , the Pakistani people there started to take out chairs and tables and they set up a restaurant for us in the street. Illuminated by the lights of our cars and surrounded by our security guards armed with ak47s we had dinner! Quite a unique experience! They served us all the typical food and a delicious spicy chicken. I will remember this dinner forever ( see in one of my pics).
You must know that here at all times food is being served. Since Pakistan is an alcohol free country for religion purposes, what they do here is eat. So they gather together in their homes and there is always food on the table. If you love spicy food this place is amazing for their sauces, chicken, lamb mmmm just remembering makes hungry! I love the food here! One of my favourite plates is the cheese naan.
FYI In the international hotels you are allowed to drink alcohol in the bar!
This country has been life changing for me. A total different experience that I am blessed to have lived. Getting to know the most beautiful traditions and noble generous people that I just can’t do justice on this post because is something you must live and see on your own, so I encourage you to travel, get out of your comfort zone and go see what beauty is around us. Let’s all learn from each other and make the world a better place!
Thank you for reading and see you around!