“El lugar perfecto es donde estás conmigo”
A Little Back Story
When I met Alex, I knew it was for the long haul. There are certain people you just click with. I became the person who wanted to share Facebook photos together, I wanted to travel and see new places with him. I knew the perfect place was by his side. I knew that when we got engaged I wanted it to be in a new city. I wanted someone to capture the moment. I wanted it to be perfect. No pressure, Alex.
Why did you head to London?
Alex worked at a White Water Rafting club in London for quite some time. This worked out great for me. I could read a book, catch up on Vogue, complete a level or two on Candy Crush. London was always our place. Every weekend, we’d pack the car and off we’d go. Perfect.
Just before my 22nd birthday, The 1975 announced they’d be touring. Let’s get something straight. I needed to go. When I saw they were playing at the O2, there was nothing to keep me quiet. I needed to be there. Tickets sold out ridiculously quick, and there was no hope. I wasn’t going. Or, so I thought. On my birthday, I opened up the paper, with a note telling me to pick any hotel in London. The perfect gift.
Finding a hotel
Easier than it sounds. Do you pick to go near the centre? Do you opt for the outskirts and commute? Do you go for budget? Do you splash out? It took me a long time to decide where to stay. I opted for DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London. We were going on an adventure! (Only 6 months to wait!)
Aren’t you guys in Venice?
A little while later, we found a great deal for return flights to Venice from London Luton with easyJet. You know, the orange ones? We decided to invite my family along and have a pre-Christmas getaway. The only thing left to do was download a countdown app on my phone and see the days get closer and closer.
This should probably say ‘Night One.’ We arrived at the DoubleTree at around 17:00 and it was stunning. Sometimes, you see a hotel online and it doesn’t really look like the pictures. Well, here they totally did. Alex told me he’d sent an email to tell them I was celebrating my birthday. I totally believed it. It turns out, that he had told them it was all part of our engagement. They wrote me a lovely letter telling me all of the best places to visit in London and also provided us with a bottle of Italian wine and some chocolates. Nice touch.
That night, we headed off to see The 1975. If you like bands. Go see them. Do it. It’s honestly, the best concert I have ever been to. It was the first concert where I truly didn’t really video anything. I was there.
This was our only day in London. We had crammed so much in. If you want to spend 15 hours in London and are willing to physically run to make sure you get everywhere then here’s your plan:
We stocked up on our breakfast from the hotel. English tea. Full English breakfast. Cakes. The full works. Then we headed straight to the hotel’s complimentary ferry which took us straight to Canary Wharf.
We were in Central London for 11:00. Just in time to make our morning ride on The London Eye. The views from The Eye were… awful. We could not have picked a foggier day. We paid to sit in a pod for 45 minutes, looking at fog. Wonderful.
Next, it was time for something I’d wanted to do for a long time. Ice-Skating at The National History Museum. This, although busy, did not feel crowded at all! We were able to get plenty of snaps with the camera plus we had plenty of room to skate. Slots book up really quickly here so if it’s something you’re thinking of doing, which you definitely should then make sure you get tickets here! The rink will re-open in October.
We then jumped straight onto the tube and headed for Notting Hill. Now, if I can watch a film three times in the same day, it’s doing something right. We walked around Portobello Market and I looked at all of the gorgeous houses in Notting Hill. But, no time to waste. We needed to be at Mayfair for afternoon tea for 14:00.
We used the tube again and crossed through Hyde Park. We had seen online that London Hilton on Park Lane did an afternoon tea complete with a variety of cakes and pastries. Great. Although, the service was awful. I have never walked into a hotel and been treated like I shouldn’t be there. I have never had a receptionist roll their eyes at me. I’ve never had the concierge tell me that I have made up that they allow you to enter their restaurant without staying as a guest. I have been to so many hotels and this just wasn’t great. After opening their own website and proving them wrong, they (reluctantly) led us to the restaurant. Lucky for them, the cake was lovely. The tea was fine. Not quite the afternoon tea I had hoped for, but it was something ticked off of my Bucket List. I may have had a small cry in the toilets though…
We then headed into Picadilly and straight to TGI’s for our meal reservations. It was then a dash to catch our flight on the Emirates Airline Cable Cars at 18:30. Things are getting hectic, right? After an almost run, we made it. The tickets are so reasonably priced and the view of the O2 and The Thames is great. Lucky for us, the fog had cleared up by then! Tickets start at just £3.50 for adults and £1.70 for children. Plus, with a cable car passing every 30 seconds, you’re not waiting long!
We had booked the day and night tour on The London Eye. The final trip is at 20:30. We were almost certain we weren’t going to make it. But, with a bit of luck and a lot of sprinting. We made it just as they were about the close the gates. This time, the views were more impressive. But, still not great as the fog was starting to draw in again so the visibility was limited. Just our luck.
Then, it was back to the hotel. Venice in the morning!
Or is this Day One, again? Who knows. I have always found London Luton to be great. It’s small, but it has all you need. A Starbucks, places to eat, some shops. It does its job. The staff are helpful, the flights are prompt, or they always have been for me!
We took off at 13:25 and the easyJet flight was good. We didn’t land in Venice until 16:40 and by the time we had been through customs and sorted our things, we weren’t boarding the water boat to Venice until the darkness had drawn in. The water boat from Marco Polo Airport to Venice Centre took around 45 minutes and cost us €7.50 per person.
We had booked The Junior Suite at Hotel All’Angelo. Check-in was quick and then we were led to our rooms by the concierge. The lifts were so quaint and Italian. I loved it. I hadn’t even seen our room yet!
The Junior Suite was a large open plan room with the highest ceiling I’ve ever seen in a hotel with beautiful patterns on it. There were a table and two chairs placed near the window so you could easily admire the view. I remember opening the curtains and standing at the window for around ten minutes. I was mesmerised. I was stood, in Venice, with a room overlooking the canal. The gondolas were gliding past, This is Venice.
The bathroom was amazing. So amazing, that I physically miss it. There was a separate bath and shower, both so spacious. There was also a window at the end of the room that you could open and see the canals again. It was like a bathroom paradise. Anything you could possibly need.
We headed out for something to eat and took a walk to Piazza San Marco. When I say this hotel is central, I’m talking you walk out of the main reception and you’re in the heart of Venice. You’re already there. It took us 3 minutes to walk to Piazza San Marco.
Alex actually did shots. I think they were to calm his nerves!
We were in no rush in Venice. We didn’t really know what we wanted to see, other than the canals, San Marco and Rialto Bridge.
They were easily all covered, very quickly. We walked around Venice and got our bearings. We didn’t follow a plan. We just walked until we saw something we liked.
For the first time in a city, I was chilled. (Metaphorically and literally). Not having a plan works for Venice. The more laid back you are, the more you see. It’s not about finding the landmarks, it’s the atmosphere there.
Engagement Day. I didn’t actually know what the majority of this day was going to bring. For all our planning, we decided together we were going to keep Venice chilled. Normally, I plan. We book things. We do excursions. I knew we were all taking a Gondola ride at 16:30 as a family. But not a lot else. I made sure I looked presentable. Today, I was riding a gondola. Plus, a new city always means Alex will take lots of photos of
Alex had seen the water boats heading to different islands and had said he wanted to take a trip to one. He checked the board and said the next boat that comes in goes to San Giorgio. So, that was where we would go.
The water boat took about 5 minutes. Then there we were on a tiny island. Circling the same church. There was nothing to do. I could see the hustle and bustle of Venice. I wanted to go back. Burano was only a short boat road, why couldn’t we go there? Or, why couldn’t we be back in San Marco!
The next boat came in and I’ve never wanted to get on one as much as I did right now. It was windy. I was cold. No coffee. No shops. What was I supposed to do here? But, Alex persisted. So we stayed.
We then walked to the edge of the Island. Where it perfectly overlooks San Marco. I asked a passer-by if they could take a photo. Now, I really was ready to go.
I turned around and Alex was on one knee with a beautiful ring from Tarratt. I would like to tell you that I burst into tears and screamed “yes”. This is me, however, instead, I took out my phone and took this photo. Romantic, huh?
I then heard cameras snapping. It wasn’t until then that I noticed a photographer, who I’d soon learn to be Alessandro Scarpa. Alex had organised for Alessandro to arrive on the next boat with his assistant and to take photos of the engagement. It’s the best thing being able to look back and have those moments captured so perfectly. I couldn’t believe that Alex had found a professional photographer, in Venice and had executed such a perfect plan.
We then had a photo shoot on San Giorgio island with the beautiful views of Venice in the background.
We headed back to San Marco and met up with my family. We had plenty of photos taken around the canals, the port and the square.
A gondola ride in Venice is everything you imagine and more. The views, the relaxing atmosphere. We were a group of six, including the photographer, so we were able to have the entire gondola to ourselves. Of course, you can’t move about but it’s nice to swap seats every so often!
No engagement is complete without taking copious amounts of photos with your ring, right? Well, don’t worry guys because I didn’t disappoint! I still wave my ring around under the light just to see the shiny. Does anybody else do this, or just me?
Thank you, Amy, for the pre-engagement nails!
You may wonder where we went for our engagement dinner? I would like to say we had a really nice, romantic meal. Hey, maybe we did. Do you count McDonalds Chicken Nugget Meal as romantic? I mean, sure why not! We did try and have dinner at Hells’ Kitchen, word of advice – don’t go. Unless microwaved food is your thing. McDonald’s did mean that my little brother was able to gift us an engagement gift pretty promptly though!
Hometime. It was time to say arrivederci and ciao to Venice. Not before taking some final photos outside of our hotel.
We took the water bus back to Venice Marco Polo and then off we flew as an engaged couple back to London Luton.
Life isn’t perfect. Even the perfect engagement had its glitches. Do we wish The London Eye had better views? Maybe, but it’s a good story to tell! Do I wish Park Lane would’ve been more welcoming instead of making us feel like we weren’t welcome? Maybe, but without that experience, we wouldn’t appreciate how accommodating Hotel All’Angelo made us feel. We were so happy we were able to share this with my family.
Behind every photo, there is a story. And this was ours.