Real romance

by Greg West

This story is part of our 'Romantic Travel Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Photo Paige.


People treat the idea of romance as if you can just throw money at it. A luxury hotel, a box of chocolates, rose petals on pillows and sheets, perhaps even a His and Hers spa treatment. All of these are fine ideas. But true romance is about going out of the way to connect with your partner.

Maybe you've been having a rough time, or simply have a temporary job to pay the bills. Maybe it's your anniversary, or maybe it isn't. But imagine that one rough day at the office you get a text: "Forget the bus. I'm picking you up."

You walk out those glass doors and onto the sidewalk, and there - right there - parked illegally in front of your building, is the one you love. They lean across and crack open the door.

You dive into the passenger seat and it's like a thriller as they gun the pedal. You fly into traffic. Music blasts from the stereo and the only thing faster than the car is the pounding of your heart. You turn in your seat to check out their wry grin:

"What's going on?"

"Two words: Road Trip."

Fields of wheat fold into foothills before your eyes. Soon you hit evergreen trees and the thrust of the Rockies. There's coffee in a travel mug, sandwiches in wax paper, and a pit-stop or two along the way. You worry a little about clothes, your toothbrush, the lawn that you intended to mow, your already forlorn house-plants; but how can you be anything but bemused, when you've been so swept off of your feet?

Your first night you don't get that far. Yoho National Park, and the base of Takakkaw Falls. The trunk pops open to reveal your accommodation for the night—a beat up pop-up tent, thick foam rolls, and sleeping bags that zip together. Night is falling, so you put up the tent together by the light of your car. It's hard because of the stiff wind, and you laugh at each other when it starts to rain. Then it pours, and you are diving once again, this time in and out of the rain. You sleep that night locked together like zipper teeth.

The next morning the sun burns off all the clouds as you brush your teeth with filtered stream-water. You splash each other with glacial run-off. You hike up to the next set of falls, and there is no-one else around.

By mid-afternoon you're on the road again. Just the pair of you, together. In an hour or two, you hit Banff, a tiny resort-town. There are old-fashioned candy stores, and Victorian buildings, bric-a-brac shops and art galleries. You hit the shops and walk out, pockets stuffed with candy, dressed in t-shirts that are so kitsch they transcend themselves.

You check yourself into the nicest hotel you can afford, shower and gussy-up. Dinner at the five-star hotel down the street. The public hotsprings after - steam and stars, and then you talk. Talk endlessly.

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