Riva and George

How He Asked: In December 2014, George planned a surprise trip for Riva’s 26th birthday. He didn’t tell her where they were going, so Riva spent about 4 weeks playing the guessing game. In that time, she had no idea that:

1. She had already guessed where they were going and George just covered it up because he wanted it to be a surprise.

And that George spent the time:

2. Planning the trip, including horseback riding and a couples massage on Riva’s birthday.
3. Searching for the perfect engagement ring.
4. Praying that the weather would be good for the trip and especially for the proposal.

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It had been forecasting thunderstorms for their trip. It had also been snowing in the UK and flights had been cancelled / delayed with airport closures. So George had been very nervous. He told Riva about his worries to which she replied, “Don’t worry about it, it will clear or the weather will change once we get there.” George has luck on his side..and if the weather really was, terrible they could always do indoor things. To which George explained that almost everything to do there was outdoor activities! They wished for great weather and Riva found out 1 night before they travelled that they were off to Malta, staying in a 5* hotel!

The weather held up for them. They departed fine and arrived to sunshine, where they got into their rental car and drove to the capital,Valletta. They explored the sunny UNESCO World Heritage Site city in the afternoon, via ahorse and carriage and also tried local Maltese sausage and king prawns for lunch. Later they checked into their gorgeous hotel called The Palace, in a nearby town called Sliema. Where Riva got them upgraded to a sea view room looking over Valletta and some free wine and fruit too!

The next day was Riva’s birthday and it was on and off raining with bursts of sun. So they persevered with the plan: Blue Grotto, Horse Riding by sunset and couples massage in the evening. At their first stop, the Blue Grotto they discovered that it was closed – the boats to the Blue Grotto hadn’t been running for the past 2 weeks due to choppy waters and bad weather. This didn’t bode well for their aim to visit Comino and the Blue Lagoon where little did Riva know, George had planned to propose.The Island of Comino can only be reached by fisherman’s boat in the winter months. So George’s nerves increased when they discovered that boats weren’t sailing…

They stopped for lunch in Mellieha where they began to fall in love with the Northern Maltese landscape while trying escargots and local Maltese rabbit stew – yummy! Then they headed westwards to Horse Riding on Golden Bay, the famous beach where the movie ‘Troy’ was filmed. It was an interesting experience – they had to wear raincoats as there was thunder and lightning. It was also George’s first time on a horse in 10+ years – he’d arranged this especially for Riva’s birthday because he knows how much she loves horses! Even the horses were frightened of the weather.

Eventually though, the strong showers cleared and George’s luck held out: the happy couple watched the sun set over Golden Bay before heading back to Sliema for their massages – another first for George and again he picked it because he knows Riva loves massages… ahem who doesn’t?! “What a relaxing way to end my romantic birthday thanks to my amazing boyfriend” is what Riva was thinking. Poor George enjoyed it and felt relaxed afterwards but like most men, he was also slightly scarred by how far the masseuse’s hands travelled up his inner thighs!! Straight after, they checked the weather forecast and the following day was meant to be sunny, warm and no rain! Excited, they started trying to figure out how they were going to get to Comino if the boats weren’t sailing the next day… George seemed so on edge and Riva had no idea why he so desperately wanted to go to this island…

The next morning Riva was woken up at 8.30am!!! By a buzzing George. He opened the curtains to a beautiful new day and went out to get them breakfast while Riva lay in bed wondering why he’d slept so little and was so full of beans… George made tea and they ate a Maltese ftira and omelette on the balcony before his impatience kicked in and he started urging Riva to get ready so they could get out the door and get to Comino. Riva obliged and so they headed out to chance an adventure.

George and Riva managed the first leg of the journey without a hitch – they took a ferryover to the neighbouring larger island of Gozo, docking into the Port of Mgarr. From there, they parked the car and searched the isolated port and harbour for anyone that would be willing to take them to Comino. Riva stumbled on a little hole in the wall tourist office where a lady with a Maltese dog first told them no, there were no boats to Comino at the moment and no they couldn’t hire a boat. When she saw the disappointment on their faces, she crumbled and called a sea captain who forced his nephew off his sofa to take them to Comino…Success! Or Fate? Who knows…

They were dropped on Comino (more like abandoned!) for 3 hours to explore, all by themselves. So they did just that. George as usual jumped from cave to boulder, scaring the life out of Riva! They wandered for 2 hours just appreciating the stunning views, blue turquoise waters and beautifully shaped caves. It was paradise – they felt like we were the only 2 people in the world, blessed in their very own Eden. Heaven on earth.

With 1hour left, they came down to a tiny, secluded beach in front of the famous Blue Lagoon. Normally in the summer, there is no where to even sit on the island because it’s so busy. But on January 27th 2015, there wasn’t another soul in sight. They chilled, with George playing with his camera phone, taking pictures and Riva just gazing, enjoying the warmth and the feel of sand under her feet… It had been years since she’d been on a hot beach with crystal waters.

The sound of a flash woke Riva from her reflections, and she looked up as George walked over to her. She looked behind him and saw his camera phone was set up on a mini tripod. She said to him, “Baby, I think your phone is still taking pictures..” to which he replied with a shrug and half smile: “Nah, whatever, it’ll stop soon if it is…” then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a very old looking piece of paper that had been folded multiple times. Riva thought to herself, what junk/rubbish has he been carrying round in his pockets now? As he started to open it up, he said “I wrote you a poem.” Riva thought, wow this is sweet, for my birthday, how amazing. She tried to look over his shoulder to read it but he wouldn’t let her.

Instead George started reading it to her and halfway through, with the line “That’s why I brought her this special ring” it all clicked, she finally realised that he was proposing as he got down on one knee and pulled out the most stunning ring she had ever seen! Tears of happiness streamed down her face and she cried joy all the way to the end of the rhyming original poem when he asked, “Will you marry me?” She replied saying “Yes, of course!” and burst into happy tears again before kissing him and letting him put the ring on her finger.

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The rest of the day, the rest of trip was a blur of bliss. Shortly after the proposal, Riva realised that George had sneakily set up his camera phone on timer and it had taken pictures of the entire memory; because he knows she loves photos for memories – what a keeper. George later told Riva that he’d asked her mum for her hand in marriage. When he showed Riva what he wrote to her mum, she burst into tears all over again. After, they agreed not to tell anyone until they’d spoken to family first…

The boat returned to collect them and take them back to Gozo. They arrived just in time to jump into their car, drive to Xlendi Bay and then to the famous Azure Windowto see the sun set before having a romantic celebratory dinner in the port. They had the restaurant to themselves – candlelight, bubbly and Scorpionfish – the most poisonous fish of the sea! True to their promise, they didn’t announce anything to friends until after they told their families when they got back to the UK. Their final day in Malta was languorous and leisurely – mimosas for breakfast to celebrate again, then a dip in the pool, a sauna and a steam. A late lunch in a nearby cafe and eventually a lovely dinner at the #1 restaurant in Sliema: L’Artist, where they even got to meet the talented chef.

It seems like this couple had a guardian angel or cupid watching over them the entire journey. As they left the following morning for the airport to return to the UK,snow storms descended onto Leeds.They  managed to fly out but just as they were wanting to land in Leeds, the pilot announced that there was too much snow and ice on the runway to land. So they were being diverted to Liverpool because Manchester airport had been closed! But even that changed. 20mins of circling and they cleared the Leeds runaway enough so that the plane could land! It was the roughest, scariest landing Riva has been in and it could have gone so horribly wrong… but they made it in 1 piece, all the way back home,engaged and more in love than ever.