FINDING LOVE ABROAD


Many dream of finding a flirtatious fling while abroad, or even falling madly, deeply in love. There is something so deliciously tempting about roaming the streets in a foreign city, devouring greasy noodles with cheap beer and dancing the night away until the sun rises, with someone who barely speaks a word of your language.

Sometimes, the hardest part about finding love is opening our hearts to its very possibility, and travel seems to have a special way of doing just that! Travel inspires passion; when we travel we seek with our eyes, hearts and souls unbarred, ready to connect with people from all around the globe.

So while many around the world celebrate St. Valentine today, we share two completely different stories of couples who met and fell in love when they least expected it.

Suvi & Diego

First up, from Belgium to Canada, find out how  a love for photography, travel and learning brought Suvi and Diego together.

Albanilla, Spain - Suvi & Diego

Tell us, how did you meet?  

Diego: We met in the United Kingdom, Wales where we both were enrolled in an International Photography Exchange Program. I was attending Lucas School of Arts when I recognized a need to challenge myself in my artistic practice and in life. Feeling chained to Brussels, I decided to apply to a university abroad. I wanted to meet new people in fresh environments and explore my photographic practice in another country.

Where the story of Suvi and I began for me was the day we had our breakfast for international students. It was definitely the initial attraction that glued my attention to this mesmerizing beauty. I first saw Suvi across the room and felt an instant familiar feeling of confidence. Nervous as heck, I made the first move casually sparking up a conversation over coffee at the international breakfast, which actually felt very natural, as if we were friends rekindling a past relationship. Just feeling her energy was such a wonderful thing. That same evening, all international students ended up at the local pub and again I was drawn towards her. I had to follow my gut feeling. We spoke for hours over drinks. I was captivated by her stories, jokes and her contagious laughter. But it was the first one-on one date, walking around Wales that we connected spiritually, allowing ourselves to open up honestly.   

Suvi: I always remember that night in the bar when he came over and pulled me in for a dance. I can’t remember the song, but it was the memory of being locked in, hand in hand, just the two of us slow dancing in a pub. And I fell hard for him. That and his French accent—something about the French language.

What brought you together? 

Suvi: The day that solidified it all, bonding us closer together than we had even planned occurred on October 28, 2013. A severe unfortunate car accident in Wales would change the course of our relationship in what now can be seen as a blessing. Our relationship began intensely after the accident and it changed both of our lives completely.

We had something special prior to this night, no one can deny, but this night flooded us with questions that still offer no exact reasons as to why we were both placed in that car together. And how after all of this could we depart and never speak again? 

After about two weeks in the hospital, Diego was persistent about our feelings towards each other and felt there was more for us to explore. I told myself, if I say no, I would always wonder... what if? We made it official November 10th on the same day I attempted to stand for the first time again with a broken hip, wrist and arm. In many ways, I was learning to walk all over again, being bathed like a child and coddled back to life—the medics say it was a miracle I survived that day. I believe that these powerful words remained like the scars engraved in Diego’s forehead and mine etched on my hip, and the physical reminder above my lip.

 

Laguna Salada de Torrevieja, Spain - Suvi & Diego

Is travelling a passion you share?

Suvi: Absolutely! We were in a committed long-term relationship, both trying to stay connected by spending months together in each other’s native land. For three years, we both would travel back and forth from Belgium to Canada every 4-6 months. We got to explore each other’s home, where we grew up. We felt blessed with the opportunity to meet new people, and explore new cultures while travelling around Europe and North America. It was the perfect time to go to places we both have never been, which makes traveling together more thrilling and adventurous.  

Finding romance on the road may be easy, but how did you find long-term romance?  

Suvi: Long distance is hard and never easy but I found long-term romance by connecting emotionally with Diego whether apart or while travelling together. When we talked to each other on the phone, we would engage in long intimate conversations about life. I still remember the first time I told him that I loved him. It was in a parking lot after my class had ended from University. I was sitting there and talking to him on the phone and finally said the three infamous words.  

We wrote letters to each other, which helped to keep the romance alive—something about receiving letters in the mail. The body of handwritten words, and the smell of paper from each other was what I cherished. Poems were met with grace and held tight, as it was a piece of him that I could physically hold. 

It was interesting every time we would meet again for the fist time after a few months in the airport. My throat was in my stomach and nerves were flowing through my whole body. But, every time I met him with my eyes I got to see and feel a different part of Diego each time. It’s what kept the romance fresh and exciting. The feelings were as I had when I first met him back in Wales. Pure bliss. 

Diego: At first it did feel as if she left me. Saying goodbye at London airport was heartbreaking, but we both didn't know what was going to happen after that. Face-timing everyday was our only option and so we did. It wasn't until she came back to Belgium in April later that year that I found the romance. There was a certain poetic experience in face timing each other everyday. I was in a relationship with her through my phone. When she was in Brussels for a month, I picked up my camera and started to photograph her. This resulted in a project, which was shown at the BredaPhoto Festival later that year. The project was a way for me to understand the romance and relationship we had. It was a process I had to go through in order for me to understand the situation. Seeing each other after a long period of time makes the relationship more intense. You want to do as much as you can in a short period of time. I think we needed the time separated from each other in order for us to have the relationship we have now. Trust, confidence, love and support are all factors needed in a long distance relationship.  

Suvi & Diego

What have you learned about your relationship through travel? 

Diego: They say that you get to know someone when you travel, at least in Belgium they do. Whenever Suvi and I travel, everything feels natural. Through all the travelling I feel I got to know Suvi better. I got to know her interests, who she is, etc. Nothing like having a morning espresso in Paris, sharing stories, or visit a museum, go for lunch, walk around, and go for dinner. Those are things I love to do and Suvi loves this too. That's what makes travelling easy for us. We both have the same mindset. We want to meet the local people, walk to places where tourists don't go.

What was your most memorable destination that you travelled together?  

Suvi: Portugal, Lisbon (Lisboa). It was such a majestic place full of life, culture and lust. The city is so ancient and we love to meet the locals and find the more rustic parts of a city. The more authentic parts are where we made our most memorable moments.  

Diego: We've travelled to a lot of places, but I would agree Lisbon has been thus far a favourite. It was for both of us a new city that we wanted to explore. The city was just mesmerizing—the people, the vibe, the ocean; it was all picture perfect. It felt as if we lived there in a past life. We got to meet a local guy and he toured us around the city, and not only the touristic places. I even took Suvi to her first soccer (football) game there. As I said before, whenever we travel we don't expect anything and go with the flow. Lisbon is a true beauty. 

Suvi & Diego

Where is your next dream destination to explore together?

Diego: For me it's Morocco. It's a country I've never been to and I just can't wait to explore it. I've lived in the Moroccan neighbourhood in Brussels for years, experiencing their culture. My neighbours shared stories about their home country and I just knew I needed to go one day. I've have always been interested in the Arabic culture. I would love to take my time there exploring the culture through my photography that might result into a new project. 

Mylène & Elliot

Next up, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Mylène and Elliot. Their story starts in South East Asia, and spans Australia, England and soon hopefully, Canada.

 

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia - Mylene & Elliot

Tell us, how did you meet?

Mylène: We were both backpacking through South East Asia, each with our own friends when we met. You meet so many interesting, amazing people while travelling, but still I didn’t really expect to meet someone like Elliot. We were at a random hostel bar (I can’t remember the name of it now) in Siem Reap, just three of us girls hanging out. A few of Elliot’s friends asked us to join them for an Angkor beer. We ended up going out that night, and partied until the sun rose. We barely ended up speaking to anyone else the rest of the night, and we just hit it off!  

What brought you together?

Mylène: After spending a couple days hanging out together, we quickly realized we had loads of common interests. There was never a dull or silent moment, the conversation (and beers) just flowed and everything felt super easy. We happened to be travelling on the same SEA route that many backpackers follow, so we kept bumping into each other. 

Elliot: At the end of our trip around SEA, we figured it was time to say goodbye. We ended up both going to Australia, though I was headed to Darwin to stay with my brother, and Mylene was on her way to Melbourne with her friend. Though we were both going to Australia, we felt like we could not have been farther apart if we tried. We ended up staying in touch, talking at least over text message every day. I eventually decided to bite the bullet, and take a chance in moving down to Melbourne to find work and be closer to her. From there, things progressed pretty quickly and I moved in with her after only 3-4 weeks.

 

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia - Mylene & Elliot

Is travelling a passion you share?

Mylène: Yes, 100%! There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t speak of our travelling experiences, or dream destinations for the future. I think we are both lucky that growing up, our parents loved to travel so we caught the travel bug super early on. Looking forward, I know that it will continue to be a big part of our life, and its something that we would love to share with our kids when the time comes.

Finding romance on the road may be easy, but how did you find long-term romance?

Elliot: Honestly, we didn’t really have any expectations. We just embraced and enjoyed the moments we had together, which in the end, probably helped us to build a stronger relationship. We both decided to move forward with the mentality that if it’s meant to be, it will all work out, but if it didn’t, well we had lots of great memories that we would never regret.

Mylène: Despite our commitment to focus on the moment, I think we both still found it challenging when we had to part ways at different points in our trip. It was extremely hard not knowing if we would ever see each other again. It was probably that fear of not seeing each other that made us realize that a long-term romance was possible, and in fact, that it was what we really wanted.

Halong Bay, Vietnam - Mylene & Elliot

What have you learned about your relationship through travel?

Elliot: Things can move quickly! I don’t think you realize it until you’ve gone through it firsthand, but travelling can really speed things up. When you meet someone at home, there is a natural process of events that you follow and it can normally take years to get to the place we got to in only a matter of months. You end up being together a lot, more often than you ever would at home.

Mylène: We really got to know each other quickly, like very quickly. Travelling is kind of like a crash course in relationship building, where you get to know the good and the bad in a fraction of the time it would normally take. The good news for us  is that we liked what we saw!

What was your most memorable destination that you travelled to together?

Elliot: I would definitely say Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. We spent a whole week together there, and we feel that this was the place where we really got to know each other. There was so much to do there, from relaxing on white, sandy beaches to world class scuba diving. You also can’t beat the cheap beer and awesome live music. There’s a major backpacker vibe, but it’s also kind of romantic too. The best of both worlds!

Mylene & Elliot

Where is your next dream destination to explore together?

Mylène: South America, for sure. We would love to eventually do another big trip, and travel for a few months (this time, together!). We really enjoyed the small stints of backpacking together and we feel that South America ticks every box in terms of culture and the things we like to explore. We can’t wait to see the Salt Flats in Bolivia, and to trek up Machu Picchu in Peru. We’ve also heard that the diving in the Galapagos Islands is some of the best in the world. South America really seems to have it all!

What do you think the secret is to making a relationship while travelling together? 

Elliot: If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think there is a secret. In fact, I think it is kind of the opposite. Travelling can either make or break a couple, and it will definitely confirm whether a relationship will work or not. But I do count myself lucky because I’ve had some of the best experiences while travelling, with the number one being that I’ve met the girl of my dreams.

Regardless of how or when you meet that special someone, it's always bound to be an adventure. We hope that you never stop exploring or challenging each other!

Happy Travels!