Twenty-three days, four countries, and one adorable couple.
1. Brett Arnold, 30, and Amy Linville, 28, have been together eight years and love to travel. And when Arnold, a project manager, decided to propose to Linville, an instructional designer at a college, he went all out. Like ALL OUT, all out.
2. The day after his girlfriend graduated on Dec. 12, Arnold surprised her with a scavenger hunt around their Colorado neighborhood, Linville told BuzzFeed Life.
“My final clue on that day was to hike to the top of a mountain in our neighborhood; it happened to be a snowstorm with white-out conditions — perfect.”
3. “When I reached the top there was a bag with a clue inside that said, â€˜Pack your shit. You leave at 7 a.m.,'” she said.
4. Linville said she expected Arnold to jump out with a “Gotcha!” at any moment, but she arrived home to find her travel backpack waiting for her. In it was a one-way ticket to Tokyo, a Japan Rail Pass, and a map to a friend’s place for when she arrived.
Arnold told her she would be embarking on a world scavenger hunt for her graduation gift and Tokyo was the first stop.
“I STILL did not believe him,” Linville said. “No way…I had work, Christmas parties, plans…what about my plans?! Later I would find out that he contacted my boss months ago to arrange it and had let everyone know that I would not be making any appearances at Christmas parties.”
5. After arriving at their friend Mike’s apartment in Roppongi, Tokyo, Linville found her next clue on the fridge.
“There are no words to explain what I was thinking or feeling,” Linville said. “It was too surreal.”
6. Arnold had roped in another childhood friend of Linville’s, Kassie, who lives in Okinawa with her husband, to give Linville Clue no. 8. The two women hadn’t seen each other in years.
“I was in Japan for about seven days,” Linville said. “I traveled on the speed train, played with snow monkeys in Jigokudani, did a Santa pub crawl, sang karaoke with some German girls I met, ate lots of sushi, felt my first earthquake, and had an absolute blast.”
8. Next, Linville was off to Barcelona, where she had to grab Clue no. 9 at Casa Bar Pepe. When she got there, she realized the bar was closed for the whole week around Christmas.
“Brett was a little upset about this one; he had overnighted the clue to the bar owner, and the bar owner said he would definitely be open,” Linville said.
Arnold ended up emailing her the clue, which led her to San Sebastian.
10. “In San Sebastian, Brett put me up in the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen: Hotel Mercure Monte Igueldo. I was instructed that a clue would be delivered to my room on Christmas Day at 3 p.m.”
The clue arrived as promised, with instructions to hike up a peninsula across the bay from the hotel and find the overlook in this picture:
12. Linville said she was slow going that day, feeling a “little depressed” to be alone on Christmas.
“I know, I know…I should have been jumping for joy to be traveling around the world, and I was, but this day I was little sad,” she said. “I knew Brett was back home celebrating with family; he had been texting me and FaceTiming me so I thought there was no way he would be joining me.”
13. After hiking up the peninsula, Linville discovered about four overlooks that looked identical to the one in the photo.
“It was raining, cold, and starting to get dark. I was scouring park benches looking for my next clue and thought I should turn back and try again the next day, when I ran into a Spanish man who knew the spot where the photo was taken,” she recalled.
14. The man led her to a cliff and pointed her to the spot. As she hiked down the last few steps, she realized her boyfriend was there with her, hiking up at the same time.
“I was completely shocked,” she said. “He had really thrown me off that day! I asked him if there was still a clue or if he was my clue … He said, â€˜Actually, I have it right here…'”
15. That’s when Arnold pulled an engagement ring out of his pocket and proposed.
“He asked me if I was willing to go on another adventure with him…and I said, ‘Of course!’” Linville said.
16. Arnold had brought champagne but had forgotten to bring glasses, so the couple took turns swigging it from the bottle before hiking back down, hand in hand.
Linville told BuzzFeed Life that Arnold had actually been planning to propose in this way for about four years, but started booking everything about eight months before her graduation. The couple will be married in Fort Lauderdale this October.