Our Engagement Story

rachelle-and-michael-jan-3-2016-banff-springs-hotel-banff-malcolm-carmichael-alpine-peak-photography-5

This past week, Michael and I took a trip to Calgary to visit with his family over New Year’s. We had a wonderful time catching up with his parents and brother, celebrating a belated Christmas, eating some delicious meals, and perusing through old albums of Michael as a little munchkin. Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit beautiful Banff, just a short drive from Calgary.

The Banff Springs Hotel truly emulates its title as “A Castle in the Mountains”. The architecture is stunning, authentic, and being in an old castle surrounded by the Canadian snow-topped Rockies is nothing short of magical. Which is probably why Michael decided this would be the perfect location for a proposal.

The morning of the proposal, we had an amazing buffet breakfast in the Fairmont dining room. Michael didn’t give anything away as he was super calm and ‘going with the flow’. We even watched some Ellen DeGeneres in our hotel room and had a casual lunch. We were scheduled to meet a photographer for a mini photo session after lunch. It was then, while we were waiting for our lunch to arrive, that Michael went back up to the room to get his cell-phone (read: ring) so he could contact the photographer if we got lost in the huge castle.

We met up with the photographer and took some shots around the beautiful hotel, where we eventually came upon a mostly-quiet room with large windows and a fireplace. There, mid photo shoot, Michael got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I was so stunned for a few moments, but of course, I said “yes!” without hesitation.

Banff is a place I visited twice with my family as a teenager, so, along with its obvious beauty, it holds a special place in my heart for the fond memories I have of being there. And now, I am lucky enough to add another incredibly special memory by experiencing one of the biggest milestones of my life there, with the person I cannot wait to begin forever with.

rachelle-and-michael-jan-3-2016-banff-springs-hotel-banff-malcolm-carmichael-alpine-peak-photography-6

rachelle-and-michael-jan-3-2016-banff-springs-hotel-banff-malcolm-carmichael-alpine-peak-photography-2

rachelle-and-michael-jan-3-2016-banff-springs-hotel-banff-malcolm-carmichael-alpine-peak-photography-1

rachelle-and-michael-jan-3-2016-banff-springs-hotel-banff-malcolm-carmichael-alpine-peak-photography-3

rachelle-and-michael-jan-3-2016-banff-springs-hotel-banff-malcolm-carmichael-alpine-peak-photography-4

 

UK 2015: Newcastle Upon Tyne, England

 

(Days 2, 3, 4)

 

It’s reunion time! Or, reunitation time, as I like to call it. This is the true reason that brought us to this trip—Anita studying Medicine in Newcastle Upon-Tyne. Today is the day that we took the train to finally meet up with her in her “hometown” where she’s lived the past year. Nik, Lin, and I, met her at the train station, and, after we got settled in, Anita took us for a walk to the Quay Side where we saw the bridge “tilt” and the famous New Castle building. I actually have no idea what the building is, but a local did laugh at me for asking if she could “take a photo of us in front of the Peanut”.

Anita and I at Quay Side, NC

Anita and I at Quay Side, NC

 

Us, featuring the "Peanut" (building in the background)

Us, featuring the “Peanut” (building in the background)

 

Later that evening, we went to “The Botanist” for cocktails. It was gorgeous; a tree with Mason Jar lanterns right in the middle of the bar, and a beautiful domed window ceiling lined with tiny white lights.

~

The next day, our first full day in NC, we went to Tynnemouth to see a castle and go to the beach. The castle was right on the cost of the North Sea, on a cliff. We all took a few minutes to sit and just drink in the sea air and beauty. You just can’t put words to the sea.

Tynemouth Castle

Tynemouth Castle

The North Sea

The North Sea

 

You also can’t put words to ice cream, especially when it’s farm-fresh, which we ate at the castle before embarking on our long trek down the coast for some of the worlds best fish ‘n chips. The walk was absolutely worth every step, right along the sea. And if the view wasn’t already enough, those fish ‘n chips made two hours of walking so quickly forgotten. It really was better than anything I could have imagined for fish ‘n chips, and we ate it as a seaside picnic, while contemplating how the fish we were devouring were swimming around those waters just that morning (that part was a little bit strange).

Pantrini's Fish 'n Chips, seaside

Pantrini’s Fish ‘n Chips, seaside

~

On our second, and final, full day in NC, I woke the girls up by stretching and exclaiming “Spreeeeeeeeeee”, because we were heading to the store Primark to shop. It didn’t end up being a huge spree, but I did get a nice dress, and a couple goodies for some special people back home (shout-out to Mom, Dad, Nix and Ryan!). We shopped a little while, met up with Anita after her morning class, and headed to the storybook town of Durham. I would describe Durham as a cross between Quebec City, and an old, authentic version of Mt. Tremblant; lots of winding, “hilly”, cobble-stone roads, line with beautiful architecture and cute little shops. We went into “Whittard’s”, the English tea shop, and a nice man with a great accent helped me select some tea to bring home to my parents, whom I described as “kind of boring” (Sorry, Mom and Dad;).

At the top of our winding road, storybook adventure, we came to beautiful Durham Cathedral. We couldn’t take photos inside the cathedral, but the grand architecture was stunning.

After our day in Durham, we took the train back to NC, where we prepared a surprise belated birthday dinner for Anita, since we were finally all together to celebrate! Lin did a next-level job of stalling Anita in her room while Nik and I James-Bond-style snuck into her apartment and used the kitchen on her floor to cook up gnocchi with spinach and mushroom in a rose sauce, and garlic bread. Sidenote, Neets, now that we’re out of the city, it’s probably a good time to mention that, not only did we steal a spoonful of your peanut butter to snack on while cooking, but I also got some peanut butter contaminate in your Nutella, cause, ya know, you can’t have one without the other. I noticed there was already some PB in the Nutella though, so I know you do it too. 😉 I digress. We had a delicious dinner and then had Tiramisu for dessert. It was a great way to spend our last evening all together as four, before the three of us move on to Liverpool tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Anita! We are so blessed to have been able to celebrate over ten years of birthdays with you. :) Thank you for hosting us!

On to the next leg of our journey…

 

 

UK 2015: Glasgow, Scotland

(Day 1)

 

After an eventful day of travel, that, between the 3 of us, included: delayed flights, missed flights, a deactivated credit card due to fraud, pink eye, a search of three foreign pharmacies for meds, no sleep, lost baggage, and a very sad excuse of airplane banana bread, we arrived!

BUT, “My journey overseas went super smoothly”, said no person ever.

On our first full day in Glasgow, we started off the morning with a big breakfast consisting of your standard breakfast foods and a side of black pudding. Sensing our hesitation toward trying black pudding, the waitress refrained from enlightening us as to what ‘black pudding’ was, exactly. After all trying a bite, we were informed that it was indeed a blend of blood from assorted animals boiled into a pudding (that actually had a solid consistency). Yum?

We then began our exploration of Glasgow by heading to Bothwell Castle. The journey to the castle involved a short train ride followed by a beautiful walk through a countryside village. The castle was built in 1242, was torn apart by the Wars of Independence, survived siege after siege, and was rebuilt in the 1600s. There were very few visitors at Bothwell Castle, which made it feel very authentic, rather than like a tourist attraction. We lingered there for a couple hours, relaxing on the green space within the castle walls and drinking up its beauty.

DSC_1596

On the way back from the castle, we stopped in the city center of Glasgow for dinner, before returning to our hotel. An unwelcomed visitor—a huge Scottish spider—made his appearance in our room around midnight. Luckily, the selfie stick that Lin so excitedly purchased before the trip, doubled as a makeshift weapon. The good news is that the spider is no longer with us. The bad news is that neither is our dear friend Selfie Stick, and that I may have swallowed the spider’s brother in my sleep. At least I am now closer to the 8 spiders that I will, statistically speaking, swallow over my lifetime. Silver linings. 😀

DSC_1602