Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Life in a Castle

It's time to tell you all the whole truth about myself, guys. Not sure whether you're ready to accept it and accept me for who I am. If you aren't, I won't blame you - the truth can be harsh. But, you know what they say. Three things cannot be hidden for long: the sun, the moon and the truth. And it waited for long enough, so embrace yourselves. Ah. All right, here it comes ... I live in a castle. Now the truth came out, it's out there, the harsh, naked, unavoidable truth.

The castle was built in 1892 by a successful businessman Charles Eisenbeis and his wife Kate. In 1878, Mr. Eisenbeis became the first mayor of Port Townsend, the newly incorporated city, in fact the first city in Jefferson County, Washington State. He wanted this mansion, the largest private residence ever built in town, to keep up with his status in the community. The castle had 30 rooms, and the fancy woodwork was completed by German craftsmen. The locals referred to the residence as Eisenbeis Castle as it was reminiscent of some Prussian castles where the owner was originally from.

After the owner's death, the castle stayed empty for 20 years until 1925 when it was bought as a nuns' retreat. But soon after that, in 1927, it became a Jesuits' college who occupied it for over 40 years. They added a new wing that had a chapel and sleeping rooms, and stuccoed the brick exterior, so the building would look more uniform. Thanks to the Jesuits, an elevator was added, and the residence was renamed into Manresa Hall, after the town in Spain where their order was founded.

Manresa Castle (the combination of the two previous names - Eisenbeis Castle and Manresa Hall) still cherishes the features of its previous owners - you can see the fancy staircase, some old furniture and early photographs of Port Townsend on the walls, and the rooms have Victorian pieces such as this iron bed and oak desk, as well as somewhat a monastic simplicity about them.

Now, if you knew Justin, you would completely understand why he couldn't resist purchasing this Victorian castle just in time for my birthday and in celebration of our anniversary. For a truly romantic soul, what possibly could be a better gift to surprise your sweetie? And what possibly could be a better location than Port Townsend, this gorgeous Victorian town (I've written about it before: One, Two). Justin and I enjoy strolling here. Below are the pictures of our strolls, in particular one of our favorite buildings with the most ornate facade, The Hastings, as viewed from streets and from down on the water.

Our first night in our new bedroom, oh, what a treat! The room was wonderfully quiet, and even with the window open and the light breeze that was playing with the curtains, it was so, so quiet - I don't even remember when I slept so well. The morning in the castle was relaxing, without any unwanted interruptions from our skilled staff, and by lunchtime we were ready for a walk in town. When we got hungry, we stopped to have brunch and a couple of drinks (a glass of chardonnay for me and Belgian beer for Justin which he, being partly Belgian, quite liked) at the popular Sirens Pub which is located in the building adjacent to the Hastings and overlooks Admiralty Inlet that connects the Strait of Juan de Fuca with our beloved Puget Sound.

Oh, I have to tell you about my dress! If you remember, I admired the Teresa for Eloquii collection earlier this Spring so much that I wanted to purchase pretty much all of it at once (I wrote about the collection HERE). Dreams do come true! Not every piece of the collection, and not all at once, of course, but I was fortunate enough to buy a few of my favorite pieces, and this dress is one of them.  Eloquii is an exclusively plus size online company that has only just recently opened a couple of brick-and-mortar stores (I believe on the East Coast in Washington DC, and in Chicago), so when I purchase from them, I have to wait patiently and hope that I got the sizing right. The wait was certainly worth it! I first got this dress in off-white, and let me tell you, when I received it, it was everything I hoped for and even more. The delicate breathable fabric and exquisite lace, the tailored details of the dress were simply irresistible. I haven't had many clothes that are comparable to this, only years ago, when I mainly ordered clothes from professional dress-makers, did I have this quality. It makes one wonder why not ALL fashion is made with such care and such inspiration, when it is literally wearable art... 

The long story short, I could not resist purchasing this dress in blue too, and I am glad I did, before it was gone. I wanted to style it with the colorful mix of whimsical accessories, sort of the way Teresa's collection was styled for the photo session. I got lucky and found a few adorable pieces just recently, like these cute hand-carved, hand-painted parrot earrings (for just a couple of bucks) at the jewelry show in the Lakewold Gardens (HERE), and a set of Chinese cloisonne jewelry at the Fusion boutique thrift shop in Federal Way, WA that benefits homeless families. I visit them from time to time to find one-of-a-kind treasures (HERE).

The few photos above are another treasure on our stroll in Port Townsend - The Writers' Workshoppe and Imprint Bookstore, that very well might be the cutest book store in the world, oh all right, maybe it is the cutest that I have seen, but nevertheless, it is seriously adorable, guys. And they don't just sell books and stuff, they also offer writing workshops on a regular basis, and do many other wonderful things - if you are interested, discover more on their website HERE.

On one of our walks, while enjoying the view of the Olympic Mountains, with boats and ferries coming and leaving town, we met this handsome young man in a Victorian outfit riding a Victorian bicycle. I stumbled on Gabriel and his wife Sarah Chrisman's website a couple of years ago when I was researching Port Townsend, and of course immediately recognized him. Gabriel and Sarah dedicate their life to historical research about the Victorian era, but what's unusual about this couple is that not only that they enjoy reading and writing about that era, they actually live a Victorian life (which is the name of both their website and Sarah's book - This Victorian Life), so they learn about it from their own personal experience. I heartily recommend that you to take a closer look at this unique couple. Read, for instance, A Typical Day in the Winter, Sara's blogpost where she shares her day literally minute-by-minute. I am always fascinated with such passionate people. Not only do I learn something new, but I also feel inspired by them to pursue my own interests and enjoy my life to the fullest.

Gabriel Chrisman, This Victorian Life

The last set of pictures are from Quench, a new to us restaurant in Port Townsend that totally won over our hearts. On photos, you can see the restaurant from the water (notice the colorful umbrellas on the sunny porch) and from the street. Justin and I go out for a bite quite often, but I have to say it is a rare occasion when a restaurant stands out in pretty much every aspect: 
Gorgeous view - check! 
Diverse menu - check! 
Friendly and caring service - check!
Fun atmosphere - check!
Delicious food - check, check, check! 
We loved the restaurant so much that we dined there two days in a row. 

Lamburger and Salmon Loco Moco - 5 stars each! 

To make our celebration even more festive, we took advantage of Sunday Champagne Brunch, well, I did by ordering what they call Endless Champagne: I drink, Quench tops it off, not a bad arrangement for only $10. 

Now let me think how many glasses did I have, then? Two? Three? Eek... eek... Three and a half? I'm pretty sure there was a half at some point. Did I tell you that the truth would come out in this post? And that I live in a castle? And that Justin bought it for me? Did I really? It's all a little fuzzy ... and fizzy ... What I probably meant to say was that I lived in a castle ... eek ... eek ... tricky English grammar ... and that Justin bought a room in a castle ... eek ...  for a weekend, that is ... eek ... eek ... Now, where is my waiter?

Photos of me by Justin, and of Justin by me, and of other things by Justin ... and by me ...

Manresa Castle, Port Townsend, WA

Dress and cardigan - Teresa for Eloquii Collection
Jewelry - vintage, more or less, thrifted
Canvas Oxford shoes - Toms (old)
Purse - thrifted (old)

Linking with Visible Monday

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  1. ahhh - that beautiful gold cardi!!!
    and of cause the dress! swooonnnn*****
    you´r very sweet when you´r drunk :-D this is such a fun post. totally love it! you both had a fab week in port T. - stylish hotel, gorgeous views, yummy food & drinks....
    have to check out the victorians!
    much love and huge hugs and many xxxxxx
    <3 <3 <3

  2. Wow what a wonderfull post. Great! I would like to read it again later with a great cup of coffee.
    See you later again, dear :)

  3. So much fun. Thanks for bringing me along

  4. What a delightful journey! champagne gives us wonderful thoughts, doesn't it? You and your castle look fabulous and thanks for sharing with us. xox


  5. I am back :)) Oh Natalia this post is soo amazing. I love all I see here. Your dress ist fabulous and this shop have wonderful clothes. Like my favourite shop Navabi.
    Great you meet Gabriel with his wonderfull bike :) Great picture. It sounds like a stunning trip. Prinzess Natalia I send you much love and a veeery big hug!

  6. Great post, Natalia! It made me smile in so many ways. What a delightful trip, and how wonderful to stay in a castle, with personnel to wait on you! That blue dress is utterly divine, and it's a great colour on you. Oh, and that amazing cardigan! How lovely to have run into the Victorian chap, I'll definitely check out their website. We have a man riding around on a similar bike here in Antwerp, but he's not dressed in the appropriate outfit, which is a shame, really. Oh, and of course Justin had to have a Belgian beer! What part of Belgium is his family from? xxx

    1. You know, it's a bit complicated, it's the part that was at one point Belgium, then Germany... it's a small town, I'm sorry I can't remember the name. <3

  7. A night in a castle sounds wonderful and the room looked fantastic and as for that cardi? Stunning!
    All this talk of booze is making me thirsty.
    The Victorian wannabes sound fascinating. Doesn't he look the part in his plus fours astride his Penny Farthing. xxx

    1. It was a very, very wonderful weekend indeed - glad you enjoyed the post! <3

  8. so much fun, and so lovely post!, glad that you enjoyed a night in a castle with your love, so romantic!, and so amazing place!, and all that victorian live!
    Lovely dress, details are gorgeous and the color is stunning, and you look fabulous in it!, love how you accessorized it!
    besos & congrats

  9. Ślicznie wyglądasz:)))sukienka bardzo ładna i fantastyczna koronkowa narzutka:)))fajne miejsca odwiedzasz:)))Pozdrawiam serdecznie:)))

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  11. Hahaha Natalia. You have me going there for a few minutes. You're wonderful. Many of my friends have visited Port Townsend and spoken very fondly of it (although none as dramatically or tantalizingly as you!). I on the other hand, have never been and I have an anniversary coming up too! Hmmmm......... thanks for the great laugh and the inspiration to get dressed up and go out on a drizzly Sunday afternoon approximately 200 (???) kilometers to the north. XO

    1. My dear Karen, thank YOU! You've made my day! :) It was a fun post to write - I postponed and postponed it, and then suddenly I got an idea - and the rest was easy! <3